Mechanical Engineering

General Overview

Mechanical engineering is one of the oldest and most fundamental fields of engineering. It involves analysing, designing, maintaining and manufacturing mechanical systems based on fundamental methodologies of engineering, physics and material science.

 

The main areas of focus in mechanical engineering are solid mechanics, dynamics, material science, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics and structural analysis. These areas and the philosophies that make up these subjects are then applied to Computer Aided Design (CAD), Computer Aided Engineering (CAE), manufacturing, production and maintenance. These applications can be within many industries where mechanical engineers can focus and specialise on. These industries include automotive, aerospace, manufacturing, robotics and medical devices. Mechanical engineers are responsible for product quality from initial concept design through to manufacturing. They often need to communicate ideas to colleagues and customers meaning they must have good communication skills and be able to present and explain theories and design methodologies. Other responsibilities also include project managers in which the engineer must interact with cross-functional teams to achieve the desired output and work towards a common goal.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

From top left to right: A typical product that involves a variety of mechanical engineering processes. A road bicycle designed in CAD (Catia V5), structurally analysed in CAE (ANSYS), manufactured using carbon-fibre reinforced plastic and the finished product on show. Sources: www.bikeforums.net; www.youtube.com; www.feltracing.com; www.compositesworld.com

The mechanical engineering field grew as a result of the Industrial Revolution which saw the emergence of textile machinery, machine tools and steam power. Scientists such as Isaac Newton are also responsible for its development by defining fundamental principles including calculus and the laws of motion which are taught to engineering students today and applied throughout the mechanical engineering field.

Required Knowledge

Skills and Expertise

  • Problem solving

  • Mathematics and Physics from first principles

  • IT skills

  • Project management

  • Applied component, manufacturing and machine understanding.

 

Software Understanding

  • CAD packages (E.g. CATIA, Solidworks, Autocad, Inventor, PTC Creo)

  • Finite Element Analysis (FEA) Software (E.g. Ansys, Abaqus, Nastran, HyperWorks)

  • Word processing, spreadsheets and presentations (E.g. MS Word, MS Excel, MS Powerpoint; Google Docs, Sheets and Slides)

Example Jobs
  • Mechanical Design Engineer

  • Research and Development Engineer

  • Machine Test Engineers

  • Material Science Engineer

  • Project Engineer

  • Manufacturing Engineer

  • Geometry Engineer

  • Quality Engineer

Institutions

UK: Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET)

USA: Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)

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