"Mechanical Engineering Overview"
Prepared as part of the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center (www.careercornerstone.org)
Mechanical Engineering Overview
The Field - Preparation - Day in the Life - Earnings - Employment -
Development - Career Path Forecast - Professional Organizations
Mechanical engineering is one of the largest, broadest, and oldest
engineering disciplines. Mechanical engineers use the principles of
energy, materials, and mechanics to design and manufacture
machines and devices of all types. They create the processes and
systems that drive technology and industry.
The key characteristics of the profession are its breadth, flexibility,
and individuality. The career paths of mechanical engineers are
largely determined by individual choices, a decided advantage in a
Mechanics, energy and heat, mathematics, engineering sciences,
design and manufacturing form the foundation of mechanical
engineering. Mechanics includes fluids, ranging from still water to hypersonic gases flowing
around a space vehicle; it involves the motion of anything from a particle to a machine or
Mechanical engineers research, design, develop, manufacture,
and test tools, engines, machines, and other mechanical
devices. Mechanical engineering is one of the broadest
engineering disciplines. Engineers in this discipline work on
power-producing machines such as electric generators,
internal combustion engines, and steam and gas turbines.
They also work on power-using machines such as refrigeration
and air-conditioning equipment, machine tools, material
handling systems, elevators and escalators, industrial
production equipment, and robots used in manufacturing.
Mechanical engineers also design tools that other engineers
need for their work. In addition, mechanical engineers work in
manufacturing or agriculture production, maintenance, or
technical sales; many become administrators or managers.
Analysis, design, and synthesis are the key functions of mechanical engineers. The question is
often how devices and processes actually work. The first step is to visualize what is happening
and clearly state the problem. A mechanical engineer will then use computer-based modeling,
simulation, and visualization techniques to test different solutions.