Mechanical engineers design and develop everything from door locks to space shuttles. In fact, think of anything that moves and you will find mechanical engineering in its design.
What is mechanical engineering?
Mechanical engineering is about the efficient use of energy for the design and function of all types of mechanisms - from the simplest to the most complex. It builds on physics, chemistry, materials, mathematics and biology to achieve this goal.
Mechanical engineering is also concerned with the behaviour of solids, liquids and gases when they are heated and cooled and when forces are applied.
What do mechanical engineers do?
A mechanical engineer may:
- design materials and structures to meet the demands of supersonic and hypersonic space travel
- design electrical power plants with reactors, heat exchangers and other specialised components for the provision of nuclear energy
- design robots and automatic control systems
- work alongside medical professionals to design aids and instruments for medicine
- work with trainers, coaches and athletes to design advanced sporting equipment
- research mechanical and thermal design for modern computers and other electronic equipment.
Careers in mechanical engineering
Mechanical engineers work on power plants, renewable energy systems, electrical generators, robots, propulsion systems, computer systems, climate control systems, engine cooling, respiratory and air conditioning systems, aircraft engines and cars.
New areas of investigation include prosthetic limb and joint design, noise and vibration restriction, high performance composite materials development, flexible manufacturing, mechanical design automation and industrial pollution control.
As a mechanical engineer you might pursue one or more of these specialist areas:
- Research and development
- Product and process design
- Technical sales and support
- Field and test engineering
- Project management
- Systems design
- Power plant operations and quality control.
- Industries employing mechanical engineers include:
Other growth industries include communications, banking, public utilities, consulting and entertainment.