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What does a mechanical engineer do?

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Carl’s Answer

Amulya, one last thought. While most engineering schools don't offer a co-op option I think it would benefit you to look for a summer job as an engineering assistant or intern. The experience would afford you the opportunity to see just how a project develops and what all is involved in bringing a design to completion. You would also get to understand the various disciplines and processes involved as well as possibly developing a network of associates for a potential job after you graduate. I wish the best for you in your chosen career.
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John’s Answer

Mechanical engineers research, design, develop, build, and test mechanical and thermal sensors and devices, including tools, engines, and machines. With experience they also manage teams of engineers and entire programs.

Mechanical engineers typically do the following:

- Analyze problems to see how mechanical and thermal and computer devices might help solve a particular problem
- Design or redesign mechanical and thermal devices or subsystems, using analysis and computer-aided design
- Investigate equipment failures or difficulties to diagnose faulty operation and to recommend remedies
- Develop and test prototypes of devices they design or devices others have designed
- Analyze the test results and change the design or system as needed
- Oversee the manufacturing and quality process for the device

Mechanical engineering is one of the broadest engineering fields. Mechanical engineers design and oversee the manufacture of many products ranging from medical devices to new batteries.

Mechanical engineers design power-producing machines, such as electric generators, internal combustion engines, and steam and gas turbines, as well as power-using machines, such as refrigeration and air-conditioning systems.

Mechanical engineers design other machines inside buildings, such as elevators and escalators. They also design material-handling systems, such as conveyor systems and automated transfer stations.

Like other engineers, mechanical engineers use computers extensively. Mechanical engineers are routinely responsible for the integration of sensors, controllers, and machinery. Computer technology helps mechanical engineers create and analyze designs, run simulations and test how a machine is likely to work, interact with connected systems, and generate specifications for parts.

The following are examples of types of mechanical engineers:

Auto research engineers seek to improve the performance of cars. These engineers work to improve traditional features of cars such as suspension, and they also work on aerodynamics and new possible fuels.

Heating and cooling systems engineers work to create and maintain environmental systems wherever temperatures and humidity must be kept within certain limits. They develop such systems for airplanes, trains, cars, schools, and even computer rooms.

Robotic engineers plan, build, and maintain robots. These engineers plan how robots will use sensors for detecting things based on light or smell, and they design how these sensors will fit into the designs of the robots.

Aerospace engineers and the list goes on. Mechanical Engineers are in pretty much every field you can think of.

How to Become a Mechanical Engineer

Mechanical engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering or mechanical engineering technology. Mechanical engineers who sell services publicly must be licensed in all states and the District of Columbia.

Mechanical engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering or mechanical engineering technology. Mechanical engineering programs usually include courses in mathematics and life and physical sciences, as well as engineering and design. Mechanical engineering technology programs focus less on theory and more on the practical application of engineering principles. They may emphasize internships and co-ops to prepare students for work in industry.

Some colleges and universities offer 5-year programs that allow students to obtain both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. Some 5-year or even 6-year cooperative plans combine classroom study with practical work, enabling students to gain valuable experience and earn money to finance part of their education.

Important Qualities
- Creativity. Mechanical engineers design and build complex pieces of equipment and machinery. A creative mind is essential for this kind of work.

- Listening skills. Mechanical engineers often work on projects with others, such as architects and computer scientists. They must listen to and analyze different approaches made by other experts to complete the task at hand.

- Math skills. Mechanical engineers use the principles of calculus, statistics, and other advanced subjects in math for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.

- Mechanical skills. Mechanical skills allow engineers to apply basic engineering concepts and mechanical processes to the design of new devices and systems.

- Problem-solving skills. Mechanical engineers need good problem-solving skills to take scientific principles and discoveries and use them to design and build useful products.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Licensure is not required for entry-level positions as a mechanical engineer or for most positions. . A Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows for higher levels of leadership and independence, can be acquired later in one’s career. Licensed engineers are called professional engineers (PEs). A PE can oversee the work of other engineers, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public. State licensure generally requires. For most companies, a PE license is not a requirement.

A degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
Relevant work experience typically at least 4 years
A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam.
The initial FE exam can be taken after one earns a bachelor’s degree. Engineers who pass this exam are commonly called engineers in training (EITs) or engineer interns (EIs). After meeting work experience requirements, EITs and EIs can take the second exam, called the Principles and Practice of Engineering.

Several states require engineers to take continuing education to renew their licenses every year. Most states recognize licensure from other states, as long as the other state’s licensing requirements meet or exceed their own licensing requirements.

Several professional organizations offer a variety of certification programs for engineers to demonstrate competency in specific fields of mechanical engineering.

Other Experience
During high school students can attend engineering summer camps to see what these and other engineers do. Attending these camps can help students plan their coursework for the remainder of their time in high school.

A Ph.D. is essential for engineering faculty positions in higher education, as well as for some research and development programs. Mechanical engineers may earn graduate degrees in engineering or business administration to learn new technology, broaden their education, and enhance their project management skills. Mechanical engineers may become administrators or managers after gaining work experience.

This is extremely informative and extensive! Thank you so much! Amulya T.

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Carl’s Answer

This is a broad field and one I found interesting for over 35 years. Basically, a mechanical engineer enters the workforce at a job where he is given a problem to solve that requires staying within certain limits of space, cost, weight and time while creating a design that is manufacturable and satisfies the customer. Based on specific interests Mechanical engineers, for example, can have jobs that focus on Computer Designing, Stress Analysis or Manufacturing & Tooling. Good qualities to have are the ability to visualize, sketch out concepts, do computer modeling, question how an item will be used, manufactured, inspected and maintained. Based on your experience and interests a ME can move up in a company by a management route or as a specialist in a particular field of interest. My experience also involved dealing with supplier problems in the manufacture of our design, customer problems in the field from use of our design, efforts to improve the design to reduce the weight or cost and also to work with customers prior to design initiation to agree on space and interface requirements. I was fortunate that as my career unfolded there were opportunities to travel across the USA and around the globe. It is most important that over the years that you develop a comfort level in speaking skills and giving presentation to further your advancement.

Thank you so much!! Amulya T.

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Carl’s Answer

Amulya, I think John covered a lot of what I was going to add today, but I do want to summarize a few of my thoughts. A Mechanical Engineering profession can be combined with other interests in your life either right out of college or after some time in a starting position. A Mechanical Engineer can utilize his/her training in Robotics, Medicine (Biomechanical), Military Service, Architecture, Aerospace, Aircraft, Automotive, Construction and numerous other fields in addition to the phases of engineering like I mentioned before - Design, Stress, Quality Control, Manufacturing / Tooling, Project Leader, Customer Service, Field Specialist and Manager. One could say a lot of the same things about Electrical, Civil, Fluid Dynamic, Industrial and Aero Engineering. So take the engineering leap as you definitely sound interested and adjust major and job search as your specific interest develop. It is a career with never ending challenges, but you will always look forward to what a new day will bring and you will never be bored.