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What is Mechanical Engineering?

Robots designed by a mechanical engineer.
Automotive engineers are often tasked with making adjustments, such as changing a radiator system, between different model years of the same auto production line.
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  • Written By: Daniel Liden
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 11 September 2014
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Mechanical engineering is a very broad field of engineering that involves the use of physics and chemistry for the design, construction, use, and maintenance of various mechanical systems. Mechanical engineers must be familiar with a wide range of scientific topics, such as mechanics, kinematics, fluid mechanics, energy, and pneumatics. Generally speaking, they must also have considerable knowledge of mathematics, as many projects involving mechanical engineering are deeply rooted in mathematics.

Many different professions and fields benefit from mechanical engineering. Mechanical engineers are involved in the design of everything from automobile manufacturing equipment to robots and weapons. Despite the fact that it is among the oldest engineering disciplines, mechanical engineers are still researching new methods and materials to improve their field. One particular area of interest to mechanical engineers is nanotechnology, a discipline which attempts to apply microscopic particles to practical tasks. Another area of interest is mechatronics, which attempts to combine mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and software engineering into one cohesive field.

Colleges and universities around the world offer bachelor's degrees in mechanical engineering. In most cases, it takes a student four to five years to complete the coursework necessary to get the degree. Coursework usually involves rigorous work in statics, dynamics, thermodynamics, drafting, instrumentation, and many other studies in the areas of science and design. Students are usually required to complete many engineering projects during their time in college. Some students go on to pursue master's degrees in mechanical engineering or in related fields.

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Modern mechanical engineers make use of many different tools to complete their designs. Computer-aided engineering (CAE) programs and computer-aided design (CAD) programs allow engineers to design and even test many of their ideas on computers, saving much time and effort. Computer use has greatly cut down the cost of design for most engineering companies and has allowed engineers to complete their work much more effectively. The learning and use of CAE programs has become a central part of the field of mechanical engineering.

Mechanical engineering is not a single, well-defined field; it is a collection of many different subdisciplines that combine to allow engineers many different tools to solve engineering problems. Disciplines such as mechanics, kinematics, and drafting are all essential parts of the field. Mechanics is the study of forces and their effects on matter. Kinematics is a discipline that focuses on the motion of bodies and systems while ignoring the causes of the motion. Drafting is a field specialized in the creation of instructions for the manufacture of parts.

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anon244015
Post 3

Please search the working area of mechanical engineering.

GRADlanguage
Post 2

@wasper: Mechanical Engineering course work can often be tailored to a student's particular career goals. For example, if your boyfriend wants to study Mechanical Engineering but is more interested in automotive technology rather than say, robots or weapons, many programs at universities will allow him to concentrate his major on automotive technology. Although his major will still be Mechanical Engineering when he graduates, he will have become an expert in his concentration of automotive technology and will be able to bring that to his career.

He should look in to the different programs that different colleges and universities have to offer. Not every college is going to have an automotive technology concentration, so he should make sure before choosing a school that their program will benefit his career path.

wasper
Post 1

Are there different types of mechanical engineering degrees available for students? My boyfriend has an Associate's Degree in High Performance Automotive Technology and is currently researching colleges and universities in order to find a Mechanical Engineering program that is a good fit with his interests. He likes the Mechanical Engineering major because of its prestige after graduation and he is confident that this degree could improve his luck in the job market. Plus, Mechanical Engineering definitely involves the automotive industry.

Since the field of mechanical engineering is so broad, are there certain degrees that only focus on one aspect of mechanical engineering? For example, could he find a mechanical engineering program that solely focused on automotive technology or would he be better looking for a program outside of mechanical engineering to better fit his academic interests?

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