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what are some outside/ extra activities that available for people wanting to go into mechanical engineering

is there any functions or places to do networking or workshops that would benefit an individual in becoming a mechanical engineer #mechanical-engineer #mechanical-engineering

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John’s Answer

Hello Aaron-

Thank you for your question. I will first make the assumption that you are aware of the course criteria for mechanical engineers and that career paths are quite diverse once you receive your degree. That said, you may find it useful to look into a few general career paths that interest you prior to selecting groups and activities to join. For instance, I identified product development as a path I wanted to pursue. This led me to exploring model rockets, engaging in engineering electives prior to college, and finding an early internship that had me using CAD. I believe now I would use one of the free CAD tools out there, my preference being AutoCAD Fusion 360 for the time being, and engaging in competitions for 3D printed designs. There are usually development groups at student levels that are catered to specific areas of interest. Lastly, industry leaders, especially in automotive, typically host competitions that students in high school and college can get involved in to experience a challenge and practice problem solving and development.

Those are some examples that would be specific to that career track. There are also foundational skills that are extremely helpful for mechanical engineers. Hackathons to learn more about coding. Math groups that help develop more advanced problem solving and computational methods. Even just joining a team activity where communication is critical (team sports, community volunteering, etc) will help build skills that will set you up for success as a mechanical engineer.

I hope that helps guide you in your pursuit to become a mechanical engineer. Again, thank you for the question.

-John
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rene’s Answer

I design mechanical components like gearboxes and transmissions. I found that universities are good at teaching theoretical knowledge like stress analysis, advanced math, simulations, and coding languages. Universities are not so good at teaching the practical aspects of design. Examples of bad designs not taught in school:
1. Using a fancy CAD software to draw up a part that's not manufacturable.
2. Not understanding tolerance and over/under specifying
3. Designing a transmission/gearbox that's impossible to assemble or very difficult to assemble
4. Creating installations that are difficult. For example, in newer cars, there are many blind installations, or to get to a simple part like a headlight, you have to remove 5 other parts to get to a headlight to replace it.
I believe the way to overcome these is by doing these types activities/jobs that are typically not taught in school:
- If you work in a machine shop or actually cut part as a hobby, you can go from a drawing and see how you will cut chips from a block to achieve that design
- If you work on car maintenance, you can see how parts are easy/difficult to remove. If you take apart some components and reassemble them, you can see how they come together and come apart.

In summary, I think schools can teach you engineering theory pretty well. You want to supplement that with practical knowledge of how parts are actually manufactured, assembled, and installed.
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Jordan’s Answer

I suggest signing up for classes, either through Linked In or if your school/job has some internal classes to take. There are also many informative discussions and training online -- YouTube is a great source to learn new tricks and technologies in the ME world. This could be 3D Cad, dimension and tolerancing, learning soft tools, etc. Mechanical Engineering is one of the most broad types of Engineering focuses out there, so really it shouldn't stop where you evolve and hone your technical skills. Good luck!
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Ms. Ray’s Answer

Hi Aaron!

I am not sure what level of student you are as its not noted in your profile, but if you are in college, there may be student chapters of the professional organizations at your school. For mechanical engineers this includes things like American Society for Mechanical Enginers (ASME), Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and Society of Maintenance and Reliability Professionals (SMRP) to name a few. These are a great place to network with others both students and professionals. If you are still in high school you can still research the various otganizations and join them just not have a group you can regularly meet with as easily. Many also have scholarship programs as well which you can apply for. The student branches at colleges often competed in various national competitions which also allow for hands on experiance.

Ms. Ray recommends the following next steps:

Research professional organizations for engineers
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