In war, equipment is an essential part of victory. From tents and rifles to bases and vehicles, no army can fight on manpower alone. They need technology, and people to maintain it and move it forward. The average soldier actually does not have full knowledge of how his equipment works, let alone have the knowledge or time to maintain said equipment. Bigger and badder pieces of equipment require even more know-how and maintenance. There are also myriad obstacles and situations which a soldier will not be equipped to handle, like obstacles that impede troop movement, difficult to traverse terrain, and the elements themselves falling on their heads.
So, behind the glamorous officers and the rough-and-tumble enlisted soldiers, there's one man who will always be there to give them a technologically empowered hand: The Engineer.
The Engineer is the go-to guy for anything technological in this man's army. Just as The Medic takes care of the soldiers' lives, the Engineer takes care of their equipment to make sure that the Medic is not needed. He's also the one that constructs shelter and support machines like turrets and gun emplacements to give the infantry cover and a little extra oomph. Perhaps most importantly, the Engineer is usually the main mechanic, handling upkeep of vehicles.
The Engineer is practically never one of the protagonists, since the more glamorous frontline soldiers are the ones that usually get the spotlight. However, if the Engineer is in a story, he will always be an essential character, and you can expect his skills to be crucial for victory at some moment in the story. Engineer characters also usually tend to be older, more experienced soldiers who are a father figure to younger soldiers, be they frontline soldiers or younger engineers. They can also have elements of the drill sergeant, demanding constant effort and discipline from his crew, although this is not surprising considering the frontline soldiers depend on the equipment they service to survive. Younger engineers can have a tendency to be very passionate about their work, and have the gift of creativity and tenacity on their side. Expect young Engineers to come up with new technologies and strategies using existing technology that will give their allies a new edge in combat. Sometimes, an Engineer will actually get the spotlight on him and remain a major character.
If an Engineer actually decides or is forced to fight, expect it to be awesome. As it turns out, knowing how to build and fix machines and put structures together also gives you a wealth of knowledge in how to break them. Engineers are also the guys to call when terrain needs to be modified. From building roads to blasting obstacles, Engineers will clear the way. Combat Engineers and Sappers (explosives-oriented engineers) are a thing to behold: with their capacity to utterly destroy enemy equipment and fortifications and their specialized equipment, they can cause massive panic amongst enemy forces.
Engineers can also be... a little eccentric. Sometimes, they can show more caring for a piece of equipment than a human being. If they're particularly skilled with explosives, they may also be a bit too quick at suggesting them as a solution to any problem. They can also have, in more fantastic settings, a little bit of mad scientist tendencies, inventing and testing new technologies that may or may not make a difference.
Note that this trope is about The Engineer as a particular type of character, not as a profession, so it would not actually comprise ALL that army engineers do. An engineer who deals with sanitation and construction of things like storehouses and office/administrative buildings would not be very interesting after all. This trope applies to Engineers as a palpable force in combat, be it as support or actually participating in battle.
There are various types of Engineers which feature heavily in media:
The Combat Engineer: This is the Engineer that's right in the middle of it just like any other soldier. However, unlike his fellows who rely on more conventional weapons, the Engineer will utilize lots of specialized equipment not available to the average soldier, like demolition explosives, flamethrowers, and gun emplacements, sometimes automated. He will also assist in the maintenance of his fellow soldier's equipment(a duty that is never neglected, no matter what type of Engineer it is).
The Support Engineer: This is the Engineer that remains on stand-by for when he is needed, working on equipment maintenance and ready at a moment's notice to jump into the field to help his fellows. Support Engineers don't see as much combat as their other brethren, but they fulfill essential duties in preparation for major offensives, like constructing shelter and destroying obstacles that impede troop movement. This is the most true to life interpretation of what an army engineer is.
The Mechanic: DO NOT piss off The Mechanic. No other type of Engineer is as essential for the maintenance of troops' ability to attack and move, and no other type of Engineer has a shorter fuse. The Mechanic is the king of the motor pool, every vehicle is one of his babies. Bring a vehicle in a sorry state and prepare for a massive butt chewing at best and a wrench on the side of the head at worst. They have a tendency to spout Techno Babble at a moment's notice.
The Chief Engineer: The naval version. A mix of support engineer and mechanic, as he is responsible for ensuring the ship is running smoothly. Don't expect to see him above decks too often, except for staff meetings, or talk too much. When he's at his post, though, expect him to miraculously push the engines beyond their limits.
Useless trivia: Combat engineers are also called sappers or pioneers.
The faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaabulous Leeron of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. For the first half of the series, he practically takes care of all the Gunmen, the Gurren Lagann AND the massive Dai-Gurren all by himself! And post-timeskip, he's even MORE talented.
The maintenance crew in Godannar. Also a major source of comedy and UST.
Gai from Getter Robo, in all his incarnations, is the main engineer in charge of maintaining the Getter Machines. He also becomes an Ascended Fanboy when he ends up in the pilot seat of Go/Neo Getter-3 and Shin Getter-3.
Franky from One Piece is the crews shipwright, responsible for the upkeep of the Thousand Sunny (which he designed and built, of course). He's a Combat Engineer by virtue of turning himself into a cyborg.
Heihachi in Seven Samurai who lacks martial experience, but fights with engineering tech instead.
Gundam series often have at least one engineer to take care of the mecha. Pilots may or may not carry out some maintenance.
Seiya Uribatake of Martian Successor Nadesico is the person in charge of maintaining the ship's mecha and gets very angry when one of them gets banged up.
Code Geass features Rakshata on the side of the Black Knights, and Lloyd Asplund for Suzaku.
Q from the James Bond movies. Seriously, where would 007 be without him?
Averted in Battle of the Bulge when the Combat Engineers are summarily slaughtered by the SS infiltrators before they can do anything.
There is an extended sequence in The Longest Day when the American troops are trapped on the beach by German barbed wire and concrete walls. Naturally, they bring in the engineers, who destroy the obstacles with a combination of satchel charges, Bangalore torpedoes and Heroic Sacrifice, allowing the Americans to break out of the beach into the countryside.
An engineer also briefly appears in the Saving Private Ryan beach sequence clearing a tank obstacle.
Capt. Miller: All the amour is foundering in the Channel!
Engineer: Orders, sir! You go somewhere else! I'm clearing this one.
The Cross Time Engineer is about how a single 20th century engineer thrown back to 13th century Poland manages to introduce heavy industry.
The Engineer Trilogy by KJ Parker features an engineer as the central character. Set in an alternate Middle Ages, engineering pervades the story: design, manufacture the application of machines (particularly war machines) are all tightly interwoven into the plot. Ziani Vaatzes, the titular engineer is a subtly terrifying genius who applies his deep understanding of mechanics to manipulate everything from people to empires to achieve his own ends.
While there are no major Engineer characters in John Ringo's Legacy of the Aldenata — at least after the first significant Earth landing — the Posleen nonetheless quickly learn to fear the sigil of the US Army Corps of Engineers thanks to their other specialty, explosive devices.
Jules Verne's books are an ode to the Engineers. Expect every major character to be one.
Malakai Makaison from the Gotrek & Felix novels is a Dwarven engineer Slayer who hauls around such exotic weapons as a gatling gun, grenades, and a rocket launcher. He also built an airship that plays a major role in several novels.
Harry Harrison's "The Ethical Engineer" - of course a double entendre regarding 1) the behavior of the protagonist, and 2) the things he was engineering.
Leo Graf in Lois McMaster Bujold's Falling Free: At first he wonders what he can do, as just an engineer, to save the Quaddies from their plight, but then he realizes that it is an engineering problem, and that he's just the engineer to solve it.
In Starship Troopers, Johnnie is enthusiastic upon learning he may be interacting the engineering corps on a mission. He states the unit's mottos ("Can do!" and "First we dig 'em, then we die in 'em.") to be literal truth, even calling out their bravery under fire. High praise indeed, from an MI.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has Miles O'Brien as the station's Chief of Operations, which is the equivalent of a Chief Engineer. Miles has an almost intuitive knack for machines which is brought out best by difficult circumstances. He even states that the perfect condition of the Enterprise bored him, and that he much prefers the many troubles and challenges that the station poses.
There's also Rom, the dim-witted Ferengi who's something of a savant when it comes to machines. His son Nog seems to have inherited some of his mechanical aptitude here, seeing as he was made a Starfleet Engineer.
Indeed, in Deep Space Nine, the engineers have attained a Worthy Adversary status amongst the Dominion Vorta officers, one of whom claims that Starfleet Engineers can turn "Rocks into Replicators".
Star Trek: Voyager had three. B'Elanna Torres was a half Klingon, former Maquis Engineer who was a genius at working with limited resources and coming up with creative shortcuts. Then there was Ensign Harry Kim, fresh out of Starfleet Academy, who was nonetheless quite a gifted Engineer with particular talents for designing technical specifications and holo-technology. Finally there was Seven of Nine, who, while more of a scientist, was still relied upon to perform mechanical tasks an many occasions.
Tom Paris was also rather skilled at Engineering, at least when it came to propulsion and other flight related issues.
Admiral Adama: In your opinion, off the record, what was Garner's flaw?
Major Lee Adama: He was used to working with machines. Command is about people.
Chief Galen Tyrol also exemplifies this, particularly "The Mechanic". He spends most of his appearances fixing one thing or another (usually vipers), is very possessive of the vipers, and has an entire crop of newbies to mentor. The few times he does go into combat mode, its like watching Gordon Freeman.
In Helix, the CDC's army liaison, Major Sergio Balleseros, is from USAMRIID and a member of the Army Corps of Engineers. He identifies himself as a systems engineer, who's job it is to analyze building infrastructure to discern structural methods of viral transmission, balancing out the CDC's team of biologically-oriented scientists. He explains to one of the CDC's team that his skillset means he doesn't see a lot of combat.
The neogician class from Noob basically combines this trope with The Gunslinger, whith a little Bio-Augmentation extra for those that play in the technologically advanced faction.
Warhammer 40,000's background features the Adeptus Mechanicus, a pseudo-scientific/religious order that placates the "machine spirits" of tanks and devices with a mixture of prayer and consecrated engine oil. Representatives of the trope in general and that group in particular can be found in the army lists.
Techmarines are Space Marines with a dual loyalty to both their chapter and the Adeptus Mechanicus, and are charged with maintaining their battle-brothers' equipment. On the tabletop they can repair damaged vehicles and bolster the defences of ruined structures, or since they're just as tough and lethal as their comrades, blast apart the foe with ancient conversion beamers or quad-barreled field artillery.
The Salamanders, however, ascribe to the Promethean Cult and its principles of self-reliance, emulating their primarch's background as a blacksmith. Since all battle-brothers maintain their own equipment, this leaves the chapters' Techmarines free to make technological wonders for the Salamanders' armory.
The Imperial Guard has Enginseers, Tech-Priests attached to the unit specifically to maintain their equipment. Like Techmarines they can perform battlefield repairs, though they aren't quite as effective in combat as power-armoredsuper soldiers
Subverted in Paranoia: each Troubleshooter team generally has a designated Equipment Guy (among other Mandatory Bonus Duties), but it doesn't mean he's any good (especially when The Computer assigns roles based on who needs the most practice).
Experts in Stars Without Number start out well-equipped to be this, especially if they pick the background packages that tie into engineering stuff like "Technician". Of course, they can also be statted into heavily social traders, but given SWN's heavy use of space travel it's rare to find a group where the first Expert is anything other than the navigation/engineering/tech support guy.
Quite obviously, The Engineer, Dell Conagher (and both his father and grandfather, likely to be a family tradition, considering a few images seemed to imply that his father is the engineer from Team Fortress Classic) from Team Fortress and Team Fortress 2. He specifically is an example of a Combat Engineer, supplying ammo and equipment to fellow soldiers and constructing turrets and teleporters.
The Engineer is better at defense than offense, though he can be played as a "Battle Engie" with the right load-out (specifically, the Gunslinger and the Frontier Justice).
The Demoman is also an engineer of sorts, as the resident explosives expert. He's certainly the class best suited for dislodging a well dug-in Engie.
Any Engineer unit in any squad-based game, quite common in FPS games.
The Engineers in Valkyria Chronicles. Isara, Kreis, Zaka and Leon are the biggest examples, storywise. Isara, Kreis and Zaka in particular also participate in battle as tank drivers, and have important roles in the main story. But other than them, there's also Engineers who are actual footsoldiers in the battlefield. They are essential units for their capacity to repair tanks, disarm mines, construct shelter and resupply soldiers with ammo. Engineers also have bigger Ragnaid capsules than the other units, so they're also the designated medics. In Valkyria Chronicles II, Engineers can actually specialize into Medics.
Practically every RTS ever has at least one unit to build your base/defences or repair things. They may also double as the workers for its Command And Conquer Economy.
This is especially true to Earth 2150. The ED Gruz and the UCS Mammoth can both carry out tasks like digging trenches and tunnels, building bridges and walls, etc.
The custom-map-only Engineer unit in Empire Earth can repair buildings as well as construct bunkers and (pathetically weak) barbed wire fences.
The Gnomes and Goblins in the Warcraft universe are known for being experts in engineering. Engineering is also an optional job you can train in. You can make fantasy motorcycles that way.
Roland the Soldier in Borderlands dabbles into this trope, as his action skill is summoning an automated turret to fire for a bit. The turret can be upgraded to be more effective, provide supply drops or also fire missles from his skill tree while the character's potential abilities in general can directly provide more to a group than any other.
The Crimson Lance Engineer enemy summons a turret to help them out similar to Roland. It's stated in the Official Guide that Roland was a former Crimson Lance Engineer.
Borderlands 2 has Axton, who is much more combat focused than Roland. His turret also provides much heavier firepower, including being able to fire bullets that debuff enemies.
Gaige from the second game fits even more appropriately, especially as she built her Deathtrap robot from scratch, along with her robotic arm (the previous one was getting in the way, considering it was bleeding from that deep sheet metal cut and all).
Storyline-wise, Scooter plays the role of The Mechanic for the Crimson Raiders. Aside from constructing the Catch-A-Ride stations and maintaining all the Raiders' vehicles on Pandora, he's singlehandedly responsible for the maintenance of Sanctuary once it gets airborne.
The worker units in Starcraft fulfill the role of engineers, but it is the Terran SC Vs that follow the trope most closely, being piloted units dedicated to construction, mining, terrain-forming, and unit repair. Science Vessels and their succeeding equivalent in the sequel are worth mentioning too, as their detection capabilities are invaluable, and their abilities are no less useful in harassing the enemy or supporting allied troops.
In Alpha Protocol, there is an Engineer class which can focus on miscellaneous benefits, including increase in hacking speed, better grenade usage, more ammo/health that can be taken from dead enemies, etc. It may not seem like much, but it adds up.
Basically all of Cid's incarnations in Final Fantasy, except for I, VIII, XIII, and the spinoffs. IV, V, VI, and XII are probably closest to the trope as written:
In IV, Cid Pollendina is the inventor and head maintenance guy for Baron's airship fleet and makes various upgrades to the party's airships. Fittingly, his Weapon of Choice during his stint as a party member is a hammer. He's also a bit of a Parental Substitute for Cecil and Rosa.
In V, Cid Previa is the inventor of the crystal amplifiers (something he is not proud of) and refurbishes several vehicles, including an ancient airship, for the party.
Cid del Norte Marquez of VI is distinctly darker, as he's the creator of Magitek—something which relies on draining the life-force of sentient magical beings. Like Cid Previa, he repents of this.
Cid Bunansa of XII is head of Draklor Laboratory, The Empire's airship/weaponry/nethicite research facility. He is firmly on the antagonist side and has a propensity for pulling oversized war machines out of his pocket to fight the party.
It's heavily implied in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood that he deliberately put flaws in his sketches after being forced by the Borgias to build them advanced weapons.
In the Command & Conquer titles, engineers are used to either sabotage/capture enemy structures or instantly repair one's own.
In Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun, the engineer in fact became the lynchpin of the cheapest tactic in the game. In what essentially becomes a great all-or-nothing game of chicken, if one puts 100% of their resources into making engineers and storms the other base before they have enough time to prepare defenses it is possible to convert the entire enemy base to your own, thus winning instantly and within minutes of starting. Conventional attacks in this early-game phase do not work at all due to buildings having sufficient hitpoints. On the flip side, this can be countered by pouring all your resources into defense, which leaves a deficiency in technology...
In Command & Conquer: Renegade's multiplayer, Engineers are indispensable: they can help defend and maintain the base, repair vehicles, and are an essential component in any APC raid on an enemy base. Just try playing a game without making use of them at all.
The Aftermath expansion to the original Command & Conquer: Red Alert added Mechanics. While not essential to the maintainance of vehicles — since one of the prerequisite buildings to train mechanics had the purpose of repairing vehicles — they could be useful by both being able to repair units on the front and not draining money while doing so. Given the advantage the Soviet tanks had over Allied units, every little bit helped.
In Dawn of War 2, the unit type you start with in multiplayer can repair. That is it for going into the trope for them, as they are otherwise just supposed to fight; aside from the Eldar Guardians and Imperial Guardsmen who can build cover. The Space Marine Techmarine and Ork Mekboy commanders are definite Combat Engineers though, being capable of getting some impressive ranged weapons, creating turrets and some interesting tech abilities.
Imperial Guard Enginseers in the expansions to the first game are the toughest builders available. Other factions tended to use various types of slaves or drones or other squishy units.
The Worker in Fat Princess. Not only are they absolutely essential for harvesting resources and upgrading structures, general consensus actually has them as the game's best combat unit. A team composed of upgraded Workers and Priests supporting them is pretty much an unstoppable juggernaut.
Lucca from Chrono Trigger. She invents a teleporting machine and a device to control time portals, she built a prototype battle robot, and she can repair more advanced robots from over a thousand years in the future - all despite coming from a kingdom that's still using steam-powered ships.
Eddie Riggs, in an unusual example of The Engineer being the protagonist. Sure, he can fight, drive, lead armies and turn into an ass-kicking demon, but the main reason he's so valuable to the Ironheade army is his knowledge of mechanics and capacity for building stuff. He's a perfect example of how Engineers help turn the tide of battle through usage of technology. Later in the game, Mangus and Jack(the Headbanger with the hydraulic car jack of death) are examples as well.
Lock's Quest, being from a tower defense genre, also has an Engineer protagonist, along with Engineers being a core part of society. Also unlike the present examples, Lock starts out as a freshman to Engineering, over the course of the game developing bigger and better guns, walls, and traps. Though mostly working as a Support Engineer, Lock is also expected to help out in the frontlines, to collect Source used to build more towers, pre-engage Mecha-Mooks, and stop BossMooks from reaching your defenses and the source wells/pathways you are guarding.
In fact, nearly any protagonist of a tower-defense game could be considered an Engineer of sorts.
Kate Wilson from Hydrophobia is a protagonist engineer. She has to scavenge her only weapon, but she brings her Mavi - a device that allows her to hack cameras, doors, computers, and virtually every other kind of automated system.
Isaac Clarke of Dead Space is another protagonist engineer. His partly-armoured spacesuit is designed to allow him to work in extremely hazardous environments. As it turns out, said armour also helps protect him against undead monsters. What's more, some of his tools prove more useful against the creatures than 'actual' weapons. Take his trusty Plasma Cutter - designed to cut through Starship hulls, it makes short work of mere fleshy, albeit mutated and monstrous, limbs.
After being mostly an Informed Ability in the first game, Isaac gets to show off his engineering chops fully in the second game, fashioning a plasma cutter and stasis module out of jury-rigged surgical tools salvaged from a hospital, as well as hacking various machinery during his travel through The Sprawl.
In Dead Space 3, Isaac uses his technical know-how to create his own customised weapons from salvaged materials.
A protagonist engineer appears in Doom 3's expansion pack
In Knights of the Old Republic, T3-M4, as well as Bao-dur in the sequel. Bao-Dur in the second Knights of the Old Republic is a Tech Specialist (a class unique to him). His hit points aren't great, but he gets insane bonuses to his technical stats, making him very useful for slicing, droid repair, and most anything that isn't brawling or bluff.
Bao-Dur's most obvious indication of his skill is his artificial arm, which he fashioned himself and which connects his hand to his upper-arm using a constant stream of energy. His technical genius is also a major plot-point, as he served under the Jedi Exile ("The General") during the Mandalorian Wars where much to his regret, he designed the super-weapon which ravaged Malachor V, ending the war once and for all.
Makai Kingdom has Mechanics as a class of Player Mooks. They're the ones who patch up your vehicles between battles, though you'll need Professors to improve them. Oh, and they can do field repairs with giant wrenches.
Bentley of the Sly Cooper series. In the first game he is mainly much needed Support, but in the second and particularly the third he outfits himself with some sleep darts and explosives and heads out into the field, proving himself to be truly badass in Combat as well. In the third game, the Panda King and Penelope are brought on as the Demolitions Expert and as a specialist with RC vehicles.
Party member Tali is acknowledged to be a mechanical and programming/hacking genius, even landing the job of Chief Engineer on the ship in the second game. Shepard's class can also be engineer, giving you numerous technical skills, though you still mostly use them to blow stuff up. There are 2 main indicators which show just how brilliant Tali is at her job:
1. The first, Tali is one of the best engineers from her species. Her race, the quarians, are considered the most expert of all the species in the game at engineering. It's their biggest hat, which they need it to cover the baldness of their rickety, jury-rigged antique space vessels and complete reliance on environmental suits to compensate for their atrophiedatypical immune systems. 2. In the endgame, the player has to select a party member to infiltrate through a series of tubes to hack into a huge door blocking the team's progress. The three "good" choices are Tali; Legion, a brilliant Data-style robot; and Kasumi, the galaxy's best thief, assuming you have her downloadable-content mission.
The main point of Tali and Engineer!Shepard is to hack enemy robots' IFF targeting systems and make them go on a berserk rampage through their own lines. As well as remotely rigging enemy weapons to explode when they try to fire them.
As well, there are a number of minor examples who are engineers for the Normandy. Gabby and Kenny in particular within 2 serve as Those Two Guys (well, That Guy and Girl.) with humorous conversations.
In the Omega DLC, Engineer!Shepard gets the only ever class-specific Interrupt, allowing them to stop General Petrovsky in the middle of his Hannibal Lecture and shut down the overloading reactor in a matter of seconds.
Engineer!Shepard: *Reactor shuts down* Maybe if I was a stupid grunt...
The Thing: The Game where it is one of the three classes of NPC helpers, and they are essential for opening doors. As Spoony put it: "There are three kinds of guys: The Engineers, who you need to keep alive, Medics, the guys you really wanna keep alive, and back in there, there are Soldiers..."
In Return to Castle Wolfenstein, the Engineer is the most important class in multiplayer, since they are the only class that can plant and defuse dynamite, which is the only weapon that can destroy objectives. They gain more support roles in the Enemy Territory expansion, where they can lay mines, build support structures, and repair damaged equipment.
The Mechanic from Dungeon Fighter Online is an example. He has the basic attack skills of the original Gunner, with the added bonus of several robots that he can send out to fight for him, such as a turret emplacement, a small exploding 'bot, and a floating gun that follows him and shoots blue energy orbs.
Touhou kappa show signs of every sort of Engineering, depending on the story in question, from building all the technology for the youkai of the mountain after Subterranean Animism to Nitori's Gadgeteer Genius use of tools like extending arms and Optical Camoflauage. Kappa are the standard Hand Wave explanation for how anything gets built in fanon.
A good canon example of this in the realm of Magitek comes from Patchouli Knowledge in Silent Sinner In Blue, who created a working spaceship out of essentially plywood, duct tape, a whole lot of magic charms, and a miko channeling the power of Gods of Voyage for an energy source, as well as a backup thruster in the form of Marisa and her Master Spark.
In the PC-98 exclusive games, there were six human characters other than Reimu and Marisa. Of these, four use technology instead of magic, in the land where science is heresy. Rika in Story of Eastern Wonderland builds youkai-powered tanks for battle, and not only manages to destroy the Hakurei Shrine in stage one, she comes back later as the EX Boss. In Phantasmagoria of Dim. Dream, Rikako is a wannabe Mad Scientist who builds a working jetpack, while Chiyuri and Yumemi are visitors from a world without magic and are here to study it... and rebuild their own technology to imitate it so they can battle the heroines (and Chiyuri is also not above simply pulling a gun on them).
Regular American Engineers and Wehrmacht Pioneers constitute each side's starting units in Company of Heroes, and while they aren't very impressive as-is, they can get a big firepower boost once upgraded with flamethrowers. Not to mention, their repair abilities make them absolutely vital to any armored campaign. The British and the Panzer Elite in the expansion pack play with the trope a little: every jack-of-all-trades Panzergrenadier is an engineer as well as an experienced soldier. The Brits split the difference - their basic infantry build basic defences while the dedicated Sappers don't arrive for a while but build really good defences and repair stuff faster than their opponents.
In Civilization, the Engineer is a vital upgrade to the Settler class, able to build roads, railways, irrigation canals, mines, and cities twice as fast.
The Formers in Sid Meierís Alpha Centauri have the ability to raise and lower terrain. With this simple tool, they can change rainfall patterns, create new land for themselves, destroy their enemy's lands, and even destroy enemy cities not protected by Pressure Domes.
Needless to say, Engineers are one of the 3 player classes in Star Trek Online. Most of their abilities on the ground have to do with creating machines and coaxing other machines into overpowered glory. In space, most of the abilities involve reworking the ship's power systems into short bursts to increase defenses and otherwise help keep the ship in one piece. It's a mostly defense oriented class, but not quite up to the traditional title of "tank".
The Robotics class from Global Agenda can be pretty much any type listed at the top of the page. They can carry multiple types of turrets, semi-automated killer drones, stations that provide health and energy to their team, force fields and giant mobile suits. They can buff and repair anything mechanical with ease, and are the best or only choice for using a vast array of field gear in a particular gameplay type. The only things limiting them are a limited number of stat points, forcing them to choose a specialty, and being able to only carry three devices at any given time. Like many classes in this game, the Robotics class can best be described as the Team Fortress 2 engineer in space. Well, "in space".
Engineers in Civil War Generals 2 build and remove obstructions, fortifications, and bridges, but are poor fighters.
Guild Wars 2 features the Engineer as a playable class. They have a wide range of gadgets and weapons, ranging from pistols to rifles to grenades, bombs, and a flamethrower, plus the ability to deploy turret guns, smack people with wrenches, and more. They're also accomplished alchemists in this game, with a variety of elixirs and an elixir gun that can be used to heal and buff allies, or damage and debuff enemies. Of the player races, Chaar and Asura are best suited to the Engineer class, Chaar being a warrior race with a love of firearms and explosives and Asura being a technologically advanced race that loves machines and chemistry.
In Dwarf Fortress, having to manage nearly all aspects of running a fortress means you have to account for every element of logistics, from making/buying the equipment to building a defensible fortress, resulting in several support dwarves serving this role. And following the historical usage of the word engineer, you can have siege engineers setting up catapults and balistae.
Diablo III has the Demon Hunter class, which, while mostly focused on archery and shadow magic skills, also has several abilities that give it an Engineer vibe. For instance, they can drop an automatic sentry ballista, hurl grenades of various kinds, and set complex traps to slow and damage foes. One of their passive abilities, which improves their Sentry and traps, is even called "Custom Engineering."
Anachronox has Dr Rho Bowman, who employs weaponized scientific principles in battle and is your go-to girl for any advanced devices that needs to be messed with.
City of Heroes had the much-hated Malta Engineers, who can summon a durable gun turret unless beaten immediately. The Sky Raiders' Engineers summoned an equally-annoying force-field generator.
Panzar has Sappers, Dwarves with great technical expertise. They sneak behind enemy lines to sabotage their foes rather than helping their allies on the front. They have a variety of machines, structures, and traps they can put to use, including land mines, walls that block enemies, totems that empower allies, and steamhammers that interrupt enemy magic. Their ultimate ability allows them to build a freaking mortar.
Complimenting Sappers are Gunners, Dwarf combat engineers who deploy and man huge cannons. They have access to a couple of traps, but their game basically revolves around building, upgrading, and naturally using those cannons. They can also build golems to help build and repair allied structures.
Similar to Panzar, Forge's Tinker class is a fairly rare fantasy-setting example. Her abilities are all about building traps or barricades, and naturally she also has a turret she can deploy to distract enemies or support allies.
The Vietcong series has a combat engineer, who in this case refills your ammo. Doubles as the Demolitions Expert. In the second game's multiplayer mode, he's The Team Benefactor, providing ammo and repairs. His C4 doesn't count because the Commando class has his own.
Super Monday Night Combat has the various Defender classes (the Support, the Combatgirl, and Leo), who each combine elements of this style of gameplay with The Medic. The Support can call in airstrikes and deploy a powerful turret that can be upgraded to heal allies and overclocked to shoot faster. The Combatgirl can deploy up to four weaker and more fragile (but faster-firing) "Combat Kitty" turrets, which can stick to walls and ceilings. She can also fortify deployed Combat Kitties to keep them from being destroyed while on the defensive. Leo has a slow-firing homing rocket turret, but his gameplay focuses more on him as a Robot Master, able to buff allied bots and turn enemy bots into allies. Each of them has a primary weapon that can hurt enemies and heal allies, with Leo being a notable Combat Medic because his Mona Laser's healing pulse is charged by doing damage.
Tails from Sonic the Hedgehog, moreso as the series has gone on. Even though the Tornado plane is actually owned by Sonic, it's essentially Tails' plane thanks to all the modifications and upgrades he has been able to give it over the years. Besides that, he packs quite a bit of other technology such as his "Miles Electric" tablet and remote-controlled assist vehicles.
Combat engineers in the Steel Panthers series of tactical wargames are better at clearing minefields and other obstructions than standard infantry. They also tend to have absolutely brutal short-range weapons like submachine guns, sabot rounds, and flamethrowers, making them useful in assaults on entrenched positions.
In 2013 the Toy Soldiers added an Engineer regiment to the existing Soldier, Nurse and Toy Scout regiments.
Every major character in Girl Genius. Even the mad social scientist has a built in pulse cannon, so presumably has at least some practical engineering skills since sparks tend not to be keen on allowing other sparks to operate on them.
Certainly the vast majority of the cast of Girl Genius qualify, but the biggest and best example is Moloch von Zinzer, your average guy without the Spark who acts as the Only Sane Man in a lot of cases. He's regularly horrified at what Agatha & co. do, he's terrified of the effects of the Spark, and he is very, very good at his job. Even the Castle likes him - and that's saying a lot.
Sev'vil of Juathuur... but not for juathuurs, who don't use any form of technology.
Both Kevyn Anderson and Para Ventura of Schlock Mercenary are terrifyingly competent engineers. Kevyn especially, having built, amongst other things, a distributed telescope array from stocks of torpedoes; thereafter known as the Very Dangerous Array.
Obviously Truth in Television. No major military operation since the dawn of time has advanced without the help of engineers, even if the term didn't even exist at that time. Any operation where terrain needs to be modified, fortifications built or machines and equipment used, engineers have made their mark.
In fact, until relatively recently, all engineers were military engineers. The term "civil engineer" was coined in the late 18th century and originally referred to any engineer who wasn't associated with the military.
For a long time Engineers and artillery were the distinctively intellectual types of warfare. Cavalry and Infantry officers thought of themselves as warriors rather then technicians.
As a matter of fact, the earliest heavy artillery, ie: Catapults and Trebuchets and the like, were referred to as Siege Engines. Engineers were the guys who set up and ran them. Thus, the earliest artillerymen WERE Engineers.
To this day, the British, Canadian, and Australian engineer and artillery corps all share a common motto: Ubique.
Zhuge Liang, strategist extraordinaire for the Kingdom of Shu, was also known as a gifted inventor. He is recognized as the inventor of Mantou buns, a staple of Chinese cuisine, as well as a rudimentary landmine and the Kongming lantern. Many of his inventions were used as strategic staples in many battles. Keep in mind, this was between the first and second centuries CE.
In his Memoirs, retired Lieutenant General (and former President of the United States) Ulysses S. Grant gives the lion's share of the credit for America's victory in the Mexican War to the Combat Engineers.
Grant himself was technically a Combat Engineer. West Point was the first Engineering School to open in the United States, and most officers retired to work as engineers for rail road companies.
Grant was Infantry, Lee was an engineer. Only the top of the class got posted to the Corps of Engineers. But the Engineers have traditionally been the elite of the US Army: From Bull Run to the Battle of the Bulge, the last ditch has always been defended by the engineers who dug it.
U.S. Navy Construction Battalions (Seabees) during WWII earned 33 Silver Stars and 5 Navy Crosses for heroism in the Pacific Theater, and were active throughout the globe.
The Seabees were arguable the single most important element of the Allied "island-hopping" strategy in the Pacific Theater, as without them, the transformation of small Pacific islands into "unsinkable aircraft carriers" in record time would simply have not been possible.
One of the things that gave Rome an edge was its war engineering. One of Caesar's less heard about claims to fame is his decision to ford the Rhine into Germania... by building a brand new bridge across it. Romans could also get a fully functioning fortification up and running by nightfall, though admittedly this is more akin to more modern "digging in" than a permanent fortification. In fact, the adage "all roads lead to Rome" was literal at one point in history: Caesar, when invading another country, would just have his engineers build roads from Rome to the invaded country and just drive his army there.
Sorta, Roman Legions were the engineers of the empire. Their military road construction relied heavily on the fact that after six thousand (or more) men have marched, lock step with iron studded boots, along the exact same route there will be a road there, regardless of what was there before. Then after whatever battle they were marching to was won, the legionnaires would go to the local quarry, mine as much stone as they could carry (in carts and by hand) and put them along the exact path they took to get there on their way back. In modern times we use steamrollers, the Romans used fancy footwork.
Many have commented that the Roman Legion's greatest weapon was the shovel.
The greatest feat of engineering of the legions was during the siege of Masada. The fortress was placed on top of an isolated rock plateau and impossible to reach without using a very narrow and easily defended road, so it was considered impossible to take through military strength alone. Having to conquer it from the Sicarii to put an end to the Great Jewish Revolt and the Sicarii's raids against civilians (including Jews), the Romans built a wall around the plateau to prevent escapes and their own mountain to reach the fortress in strength and with their siege engines. Upon realizing what the Romans had just done, the Sicarii killed themselves before the Romans started breaching the wall.
The ramp the Romans built to breach Masada is still there to this day, and is by far the easiest way to climb onto the plateau.
The EOD aspects of this trope are currently being automated in the form of the Pack Bot, of iRobot (creators of the Roomba) fame. The robots save so many soldiers' lives that they're treated as squadmates and have been on occasion mourned by their squad when destroyed by bombs. Apparently, there's nothing so terribly heartbreaking as seeing a hulking soldier crying over shreds of a robot, asking if it can be repaired.
The "Trường Sơn trail", also known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail, was considered one of the deciding factors of the Vietnam War. This supply trail, largely located in Laos was maintained by a literal army of North Vietnamese combat engineers, supplying North Vietnamese forces throughout both North and South Vietnam. They kept the supply line in operation despite it being located in some of the most remote and inhospitable territory in the world and getting nearly constantly air-attacked and assaulted by U.S Special Forces. Many—including the American NSA—consider it the greatest feat of combat engineering of the 20th century.
The most famous artists and scientists of the Italian Renaissance were almost all military engineers including Michelangelo and Da Vinci.
The tradition remains alive to this day, as shown by the many intervention of the Italian Army whenever a natural disaster hit. And in the past they've done things worth of the Romans: for example, in World War I the Royal Italian Army built a number of hiking trail for the express purpose to bring artillery on the top of mountains supposed to be too high for that. The crowning achievement is the Road of 52 Tunnels, an hiking trail made of 52 tunnels and connecting path dug in the massif Pasubio because the one they had just completed was exposed to enemy artillery (and let's not speak of the many galleries Italians and Austro-Hungarians dug in the attempt to blow up the enemy-held mountains under their feet...).
In the Finnish Army, almost all conscripts who are selected to become engineers do have some extent of engineering or mechanic background already in the civilian life. Almost all of those who are trained to become reserve officers, are engineering university or college students.