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Mechanical engineering is a diverse subject that derives its breadth from the need to design and manufacture everything from small individual parts and devices to large systems. The role of a mechanical engineer is to take a product from an idea to the marketplace. In order to accomplish this, a broad range of skills are needed. The mechanical engineer needs to acquire particular skills and knowledge. He/she needs to understand the forces and the thermal environment that a product, its parts, or its subsystems will encounter; to design them for functionality, aesthetics, and the ability to withstand the forces and the thermal environment they will be subjected to; and to determine the best way to manufacture them and ensure they will operate without failure. Perhaps the one skill that is the mechanical engineer’s exclusive domain is the ability to analyze and design objects and systems with motion.
Students in the Iowa State University College of Engineering explain what Mechanical Engineering means to them.
The Different Fields of Mechanical Engineering:
Aerospace and Astronautical Engineering.
Agricultural Engineering and Bioengineering.
Architectural Drafting Technologies.
Ceramic Engineering and Technology.
Civil Construction Engineering.
Mechanical engineers are typically involved with the generation, distribution, and use of energy; the processing of materials; the control and automation of manufacturing systems; the design and development of machines; and the solutions to environmental problems.
Research, testing manufacturing, operations, marketing, and administration are some other key activities associated with practicing Mechanical Engineers.
Mechanical engineers are characterized by personal creativity, breadth of knowledge, and versatility. They are also valuable and reliable multidisciplinary team members.
The technical subject areas that form the main basis for their work include mechanics, energy transfer and conversion, design and manufacturing, and the engineering sciences. Through clever use of analysis, modeling, design, and synthesis, they solve important problems to improve quality of life.
Mechanical engineers work on teams responsible for developing a wide range of products and systems including, for example, space shuttle vehicles, aircraft of all sizes and shapes, automobiles, turbines, pumps, power plants, and factories.
Virtually any machine or process you can think of has benefited from the influence of a mechanical engineer.
Everyday conveniences such as refrigeration, microwave cooking, high-fidelity sound reproduction, transportation, communication, and copying are affordable largely because mechanical and other engineers worked together to make it happen.
Mechanical engineers are in demand now, and projections for the future suggest a long-term need for professionals in this specialty. About 20% of the nearly 3 million engineers in the United States are mechanical engineers.
A good mechanical engineer is an innovator at heart, and truly enjoys complex problem solving. They have excellent communication skills (both oral and written) and enjoy working with others as a team player. They are excited to be on the edge of technology, learning how to make things work more efficiently. They feel a sense of accomplishment when turning their ideas into reality and solving problems that better society. Mechanical engineers are naturally curious, innovative, creative, and practical, and have a desire to help people and the world around them.
Mechanical engineers are the second largest engineering occupation. They work mostly in engineering services, research and development, manufacturing industries, and the federal government. The rest are employed in general-purpose machinery manufacturing, automotive parts manufacturing, management of other companies, and testing laboratories.
Mechanical engineers generally work in professional office settings. They may occasionally visit work sites where a problem or piece of equipment needs their personal attention. Most mechanical engineers work full time, with some working as many as 60 hours or more per week.