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.
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Colleges and universities around the world offer bachelor's degrees in 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.
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.
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.