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A professional mechanical engineer designs and builds different types of machines that are used in manufacturing plants, buildings, and homes. He or she often specializes in a certain field, such as aeronautics, automobiles, industrial equipment, robotics, or consumer electronics. Engineers frequently create computer models and blueprints of their designs, analyze theoretical machines, and construct physical prototypes. They are often involved in building, testing, patenting, and marketing their new machines.
Designing a new product or machine usually requires a professional mechanical engineer to conduct extensive research and go through several drafts of blueprints. Engineers employ many different principles of physics in their research, including elements of electricity, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and kinematics. Their expert knowledge helps them to design the most efficient, cost-effective machines and devices. Professionals usually generate blueprints with the aid of computer programs, which allow them to make changes to designs and put their ideas through simulated tests.
When a professional mechanical engineer is confident in his or her design, the physical building process can begin. The engineer usually works with a team of other experts to create and test a prototype of the machine. He or she makes fine adjustments when necessary to ensure proper functioning. A successful design is usually patented and marketed to manufacturing companies so that the machine can be mass produced.
Many different industries employ engineers to create new and better products. Experts may work in specialized research and development laboratories at plants that produce industrial machinery, such as machinist tools and power generators. Many professionals make improvements to consumer electronics, appliances, and heating and cooling systems. A highly skilled professional mechanical engineer might work for the military or a government institution, designing complex surveillance equipment and defense systems.
To become a professional mechanical engineer, a person must typically hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. An individual may choose to obtain a master's or doctoral degree to work in advanced positions in research laboratories or universities. A new engineer usually begins his or her career as an assistant, acquiring firsthand knowledge of various tools, techniques, and responsibilities from experienced professionals. After gaining experience as an assistant, a new engineer is often required to take a licensing or certification exam before working independently.
Mechanical engineers are in high demand in most job settings. New technological advances in research and design require engineers to have a strong understanding of computers, robotics, and sophisticated electronic equipment. Individuals with proficiency in computer programming and the applications of information technology usually enjoy the best career opportunities as professional mechanical engineers.