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What is the process that Mechanical Engineers do in order to complete a project?

I am a senior in high school who is very interested in pursuing the career of Mechanical Engineering. I love math and science, and believe that the career of Mechanical Engineering would full fill my interests. I already know which colleges would prepare me best for having a career in Mechanical Engineering. I am interested in knowing what are the projects that are assigned to a Mechanical Engineer and the process that a Mechanical Engineer would take to complete their task. Obtaining information about this subject will allow for me to be better prepared for what a career in Mechanical Engineering would be like. #science #engineer #math #physics #mechanical-engineer #mechanics

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Michael’s Answer

This is a good one. I will not answer the question of "what assignments would I get [in college]" because you have at least four years of school with a minimum of 35 different classes so you should be Google searching "typical college curriculum for mechanical engineer".

In regards to actually being a mechanical engineer in oil and gas, you can pretty much focus on rotating stuff and stationary stuff. If you choose rotating then you would be a machinery engineer. These engineers specialize in the turbines, compressors, pumps, fans, and anything else with a motor. When you consider that a turbine can take three years to build from ordering and costs more than five million, it's a pretty cool job. You focus on how the motor works, thrust, combustion, compression, impeller strengths, etc. If you are a stationary mechanical engineer, you focus your energy on solving issues with pipes and vessels. Most of these issues revolve around thermal growth of large piping and the stresses that growth introduces, failures of piping due to metal crystal structure stress failure, weld and repair quality. These types of engineers play one of the largest roles in the design of a new plant. All the piping needs to be analysed for stresses and thermal growth.

Thank you, this detailed information about specific engineering jobs certainly helps me get an idea of the variety of jobs a mechanical engineer can do. Joshua C.

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Brad’s Answer

Hi Joshua,

I just wanted to affirm how great of a decision it is to be a mechanical engineer. As a mechanical engineering student you will have many problems that you are assigned through various courses. Most of the time you will have to use math within the science and engineering course to solve these problems. This is why it is essential to get ahead and be strong in your math classes. Your math skills must be top notch to tackle the more difficult science and engineering course work.

In any engineering problem you need to ask yourself exactly what you are looking for a.k.a your unknowns. Then ask yourself what do you know now a.k.a the "given". There is usually an order to how you solve a solution so you will have follow that process to find our unknowns. Only some times you will have many unknowns and you will have to make some assumptions just to get started. The key to engineering is to be efficient in how you think, calculate, and design. The optimal answer to a problem is usually the one that requires the least time and resources while reaching the needed result. When you become more senior in school and as a professional you notice that sometimes the best idea or solution is not ideal for timing or cost. As you move forward you will have to balance performance with cost or time-frame.

The engineering mind is a great thing to have however you have to balance the theory with practicality.

Good Luck

Thank you. I truly value the insight into how engineers solve problems. Joshua C.

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Ken’s Answer

Hi Joshua!

This web site will tell you what a mechanical engineer does and how to become one.

How did you become interested in this area?

The most important thing for you to do is to get to know more about yourself and then look at appropriate careers. A good place to start is to take an interest and aptitude test to see which careers might be appropriate for you.

Another thing that you can do is to talk to your science and math teachers to see how they would see you following that career path. Perhaps they know some engineers whom you could visit at their place of employment to learn what they do and where they do it. This will help you answer your question personally.

Good luck! Keep me posted. I would like to help you further if I can.

Also, send thank you notes to people who help you. Ken Simmons

Thank you for the advice. Joshua C.

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Vernon’s Answer

Good for you. The project identity will be determined by who or what is presenting the task. In college, you will get a wide variety of assignments involving various technologies. That is critical to your future.

The process begins with analyzing the task and listing both the variables and the expected outcomes. Set up a time line or sequence of the steps necessary to complete the task...including your own. Then, design the plan and/or items that seem best suited for the task. Include all your background education, like strength-of-materials, to supplement your plan.

Re-visit the plan and timeline to see if it is still applicable after your initial design. Then, show your plan to a colleague or your boss. Note suggestions and changes. Incorporate the usable ones into your project. Contact those other departments needed to implement the project. If you are a small operator, you will have to learn to deal with vendors and contractors to implement your plan.

Most importantly, do NOT let your ego drive your projects. Nothing destroys businesses faster than the NIH (Not Invented Here) attitude. Stay humble. Stay creative. Stay flexible.