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What Does a Mechanical Engineer Do?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 30 March 2014
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The work of mechanical engineers spans a number of different fields and disciplines, with a great deal of the emphasis being on the creation, design, construction, and installation of many of the mechanical devices that make modern life so comfortable. A fully trained engineer can practice his or her vocation in a number of settings, and provide a wide range of services.

One of the more common roles of a mechanical engineer has to do with the design and construction of public buildings. Engineers address a number of aspects that affect the function of a building, such as the heating, cooling, and ventilation systems. They will ensure that the placement of equipment, the routing of ductwork, and the placing of vents throughout the space will ensure that the occupants of the building will enjoy a comfortable temperature at all times. In some cases, an engineer may design special systems that work in building designs that are different from the norm.

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Product development is also an area that requires the talents of this type of engineer. In some cases, he or she may be called on to refine an existing product, such as an automobile or household kitchen appliance. As part of this job, the engineer may seek to improve the product so that it — or the process used to make it — is more efficient, which might reduce the cost to the consumer. Engineering of this type has proven very profitable in the advance of communications methods and devices over the last several decades, resulting in a number of household products becoming more affordable.

Mechanical engineering also comes into play with product development that creates something new, such as new concepts for space exploration. Some of the most important technological innovations of the last century were directly attributed to people whose creativity and vision often helped to make the impossible become a reality within a short number of years.

As technology in a number of industries becomes more complicated, the talents of a competent mechanical engineer have also increased in demand. As a result, many colleges and universities offer comprehensive courses of study that are geared toward training engineers who will be able to meet the growing demand.

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Discuss this Article

anon264687
Post 7

I have an idea for electricity production without any hydrocarbon or water or air source of energy. I'd like to discuss this with any mechanical engineer.

cannuckinn
Post 4

@purdue2010: Although a mechanical engineer's salary is affected by many factors, such as industry they work in, area they live in and size of the company they work for, I can assure you that it is definitely a worthwhile investment. I did a quick search and found that the median entry-level salary for a mechanical engineer in West Lafayette (where Purdue is, correct?) makes $54,000 a year. Usually, if you can land a job with a salary that high right out of college, paying back your student loans is a little less stressful.

purdue2010
Post 3

Thanks @cubbyblue9. I think you're right about mechanical engineers being able to work in a wide variety of fields.

I'm also curious as to what a mechanical engineering entry-level salary looks like? I would assume that because mechanical engineers help make products safer and more efficient for the public, as the article mentions, they would make a decent amount of money? I only ask because tuition costs these days are so high. Is a mechanical engineering degree a good investment in your future?

cubbyblue9
Post 2

@purdue2010 - Mechanical engineers find careers in a variety of fields as the article suggests. Some other industries that I've seen friends work in after graduation include manufacturing, agriculture and energy efficiency. One of my best friends graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and now works as a Project Manager for a manufacturing company.

Engineering majors are extremely sought after in today's world and their degrees are often viewed by employers as very prestigious. I'd be comfortable saying that, depending on their talent, flexibility and motivation, people who have studied Mechanical Engineering at accredited colleges or universities could find career opportunities in almost any field.

purdue2010
Post 1

I agree with this article where it says that choosing to become a mechanical engineer is a sound choice. My fiancé is studying mechanical engineering at Purdue University right now and is currently exploring all of his options. He's very interested in automotive technology and two of his roommates that graduated last December went on to do research and development for a major automotive company. He has also expressed an interest in working for NASA because he is interested in space. That's awesome that this article has hit on his top two career choices.

He doesn't graduate until next year, so for now he's going to focus on finding mechanical engineering internships so that he can get a feel for which career path is truly the most interesting for him.

I'm curious whether anyone else knows of good career options for mechanical engineers besides the ones already covered in this article?

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