BSME

What Is Mechanical Engineering?

Technically, mechanical engineering is the application of the principles and problem-solving techniques of engineering from design to manufacturing to the marketplace for any object. Mechanical engineers analyze their work using the principles of motion, energy, and force — ensuring that designs function safely, efficiently, and reliably, all at a competitive cost.

Mechanical engineers make a difference. That’s because mechanical engineering careers center on creating technologies to meet human needs. Virtually every product or service in modern life has probably been touched in some way by a mechanical engineer to help humankind. 

This includes solving today’s problems and creating future solutions in health care, energy, transportation, world hunger, space exploration, climate change, and more.

Being ingrained in many challenges and innovations across many fields means a mechanical engineering education is versatile. To meet this broad demand, mechanical engineers may design a component, a machine, a system, or a process.  This ranges from the macro to the micro, from the largest systems like cars and satellites to the smallest components like sensors and switches. Anything that needs to be manufactured — indeed, anything with moving parts — needs the expertise of a mechanical engineer.  

Parts drawing and gear

What do mechanical engineers do?

Mechanical engineering combines creativity, knowledge and analytical tools to complete the difficult task of shaping an idea into reality.

Mechanical engineers have an enormous range of opportunity and their education mirrors this breadth of subjects. Students concentrate on one area while strengthening analytical and problem-solving skills applicable to any engineering situation. 

Disciplines within mechanical engineering include but are not limited to:

  • Acoustics
  • Aerospace
  • Automation
  • Automotive
  • Autonomous Systems
  • Biotechnology
  • Composites
  • Computer Aided Design (CAD)
  • Control Systems
  • Cyber security
  • Design
  • Energy
  • Ergonomics
  • Human health
  • Manufacturing and additive manufacturing
  • Mechanics
  • Nanotechnology
  • Production planning
  • Robotics
  • Structural analysis

Technology itself has also shaped how mechanical engineers work and the suite of tools has grown quite powerful in recent decades. Computer-aided engineering (CAE) is an umbrella term that covers everything from typical CAD techniques to computer-aided manufacturing to computer-aided engineering, involving finite element analysis (FEA) and computational fluid dynamics (CFD). These tools and others have further broadened the horizons of mechanical engineering.

 

What skills do mechanical engineers need?

The essence of engineering is problem solving. With this at its core, mechanical engineering also requires applied creativity — a hands on understanding of the work involved — along with strong interpersonal skills like networking, leadership, and conflict management. Creating a product is only part of the equation; knowing how to work with people, ideas, data, and economics fully makes a mechanical engineer.

What tasks do mechanical engineers do?

Careers in mechanical engineering call for a variety of tasks.

  • Conceptual design
  • Analysis
  • Presentations and report writing
  • Multidisciplinary teamwork
  • Concurrent engineering
  • Benchmarking the competition
  • Project management
  • Prototyping
  • Testing
  • Measurements
  • Data Interpretation
  • Developmental design
  • Research
  • Analysis (FEA and CFD)
  • Working with suppliers
  • Sales
  • Consulting
  • Customer service