What does a Mechanical Engineer do?

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What is a Mechanical Engineer?

A mechanical engineer is someone who designs, develops, builds, and tests mechanical devices, including tools, engines and machines. They work mostly in research and development, manufacturing industries, and the federal government.

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What does a Mechanical Engineer do?

Mechanical engineers typically do the following:

  • Analyze problems to see how a mechanical device might help solve the problem
  • Design or redesign mechanical devices, creating blueprints so the device can be built
  • Develop a prototype of the device and test the prototype
  • Analyze the test results and change the design as needed
  • Oversee the manufacturing process

Mechanical engineers use many types of tools, engines, and machines. Examples include the following:

  • Power-producing machines such as electric generators, internal combustion engines, and steam and gas turbines
  • Power-using machines, such as refrigeration and air-conditioning
  • Industrial production equipment, including robots used in manufacturing
  • Other machines inside buildings, such as elevators and escalators
  • Machine tools and tools for other engineers
  • Material-handling systems, such as conveyor systems and automated transfer stations.

Like other engineers, mechanical engineers use computers extensively. Computers help mechanical engineers to produce and analyze designs, simulate and test how a machine is likely to work, generate specifications for parts, monitor the quality of products, and control manufacturing and production.

How to become a Mechanical Engineer

Nearly all entry-level mechanical engineering jobs require a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. Mechanical engineering degree programs usually include courses in mathematics and life and physical sciences, as well as engineering and design courses. The programs typically last four years, but many students take between four and five years to earn their degree. A mechanical engineering degree program may emphasize internships and co-ops to prepare students for work in the industry.

Theory is often another main focus in order to prepare students for graduate-level work. A few engineering schools allow students to spend three years in a liberal arts college studying pre-engineering subjects and two years in an engineering school studying core subjects to receive a bachelor's degree from each school. Some colleges and universities offer five-year programs that allow students to obtain both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. Some five, or even six year cooperative plans, combine classroom study with practical work, enabling students to gain valuable experience and earn money to finance part of their education.

Graduate training is essential for engineering faculty positions in higher education, as well as for some research-and-development programs. Many experienced mechanical engineers get graduate degrees in engineering or business administration to learn new technology and broaden their education. Many become administrators or managers after obtaining a graduate degree.

Most jurisdictions require licensure for engineers who offer their services directly to the public. Licensed mechanical engineers are designated as professional engineers (PEs). The PE license generally requires a degree from an accredited engineering program, four years of relevant work experience, and passing a standardized exam.

  • Education Requirements For A Mechanical Engineer work.chron.com

    An education in mechanical engineering opens up a number of career possibilities. Duties typically include designing tools and machines such as generators, turbines, refrigeration equipment, engines, industrial gear, elevators and robots.

What is the workplace of a Mechanical Engineer like?

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.

External Reading

  • Working As A Mechanical Engineer www.me.utexas.edu

    Mechanical engineering is an incredibly broad field, and provides the engineer a number of different areas in which to work. Following is summary of the areas included in mechanical engineering.

  • ASK AN ENGINEER! – What Do Engineers Do Day-To-Day? www.wastedtalent.ca

    MOST of what engineers do can fall into four categories: Analysis, Problem Solving, Planning, and Communicating. Every engineer's day will consist of a different mix of these functions, depending on their role, level, industry, and interest... So I asked our panel: what is YOUR role, and what do YOU do in your day-to-day?

  • Day In The Life - Mechanical Engineer www.careercornerstone.org

    There is no typical day for most mechanical engineers. Engineering projects are multi-disciplinary organizational efforts often involving scores of people inside and outside the company.

  • What Is Mechanical Engineering? me.columbia.edu

    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.

  • What Are Three Personal Characteristics Of A Mechanical Engineer? work.chron.com

    A mechanical engineer uses computer software programs to design or redesign various types of mechanical devices, such as engines, machines and robots. While technical abilities and math skills are vital to success, top mechanical engineers also possess certain personal qualities, including creativity and strong communication and problem-solving skills.