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What do mechanical engineers learn in college?

What is the course work in mechanical engineering school? How is it different from other engineering programs? engineering mechanical-engineering engineer mechanical mechanical-engineer

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Augustine’s Answer

Hey Darren. So I graduated in 2018 with a Mechanical Engineering concentration in Aerospace Eng. A lot of programs out there have a concentration. Mechanical is very broad you kind of need to know what you want to do come time junior year because that's when you start taking courses for your specific major. First two years is your basic general education you are required to take and then your calc/physics but you start to take classes about materials, you might even have to take an electrical course. For the most part, you and your classmates will need to take the same classes the first two years but after that you can start to pick and choose the classes you find interesting. I found aerospace interesting and took classes for that field. Some classmates of mine went with the energy route and took classes in nuclear, etc. Great field to be in but get ready to put the work in for that degree because it is no slouch. But very rewarding, hope this helps, let me know if you have any other questions. Good luck!
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Dennis’s Answer

Hello Darren, I'm glad to see that you are interested in Mechanical Engineering as a field of study or career. You can look at any engineering college web page and get an idea about what courses they offer. Typically, engineering education starts with some 'core' courses that you need, regardless of what field you ultimately pursue. Math is important, because most engineering concepts are taught and learned as mathematical models of the physical world. Along with Math, you need Physics and Chemistry. As another person responding said - you will learn to keep track of forces. Understanding the physical world is also important, so there are subjects like Thermodynamics, Heat Transfer, Fluid Mechanics, Control Systems, Electricity and ELectronics, Materials Engineering, and many more...... so it isn't just about forces. Engineering is sort of like accounting, except that in accounting, you keep track of Money. In Engineering, you keep track of forces, pressures, temperatures, stress, strain, position, velocity, acceleration, voltage and current, and so on, depending on what kind of system you are dealing with.

The most important thing you need to learn, although it is not a course of study per se, is to solve problems. And that means, first, to take a complicated problem and break it down into smaller problems that you can deal with using the various disciplines that you have studied. Your undergraduate courses tend to do the opposite: you start by analyzing a narrowly-defined system and lear Darrenn how to solve problems in that context using free-body diagrams and equations that describe the physical phenomena of interest. After you do that a few times, you can look at cases that are less narrowly defined and learn even better methods to study and analyze them. At some point, you may decide that certain subject areas interest you more than others. And that's ok. Later in your education (as a Junior or Senior), you may get to choose Electives, and that's how you can become more specialized in a specific discipline. Good luck to you as you continue your education, Darren!
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Lisa’s Answer

Hi Darren,
My daughter is currently a sophomore in college and majoring in Mechanical Engineering. I asked her your questions and this is her answer:
The general classes are just chemistry, physics and a lot of math classes like calc and differential equations. We then learn about statics and dynamics, so things in motion versus things not in motion. Material science is about the properties of different materials. We also learn about circuits , computer aided design (CAD) and Machine shop.
Other classes in the program for her 3rd and 4th years include: Solid Mechanics, Thermodynamics, Fluid Mechanics, Machine Elements, Heat Transfer, Engineer Probability and Statistics, Design of Thermal Systems, Ethics and Sustainability, Dynamics and Vibrations, Simulation and Control, Management and Negotiation.

Hope this helps. She really likes this major since it is pretty broad and you can branch off to other engineering fields like biotech, civil or structural, or material engineering etc...


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Tyler’s Answer

You will learn about specific areas (CAD, thermals, fluids, dynamics, statics, physics, math, math, math, machine design, etc.), but most importantly you will learn problem solving. It's not about learning how to get the answers in the back of a textbook, but rather to take what you learned on problem A and problem B and then be able to figure out how to solve a problem that you have never seen before (problem C).
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Kelly’s Answer

All engineers get a great education in problem solving - thinking about issues and their influencing factors and then modeling them and solving the challenge. For a mechanical engineer, mechanics usually refers to forces and how they affect things. Gravitational pull and friction are 2 forces that act against objects and affect their movement. Mechanical engineers learn how to lessen friction through use of materials or lubricants or how much force is needed to overcome gravitational pull. This can be put to use in any robotics, automotive, or machinery situation. Thermodynamics was a big topic for my friends who studied mechanical engineering. Understanding how temperatures affect things, especially when those temperatures are dynamically changing during a process, such as a car engine heating up after it is started. It's fun to learn how to understand these forces, model them, and effectively design with these real-world influences in mind.
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