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What do Mechanical Engineers do in their job and how does the planning process go to create something ?

How long do Mechanical Engineers take to create a plan to create an object or etc. ?

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Sam’s Answer

Hello Ashton,

If you do a Google search for product development process, this is one of the websites that will be displayed, and it's "6 Steps" are pretty good.

https://asana.com/resources/product-development-process

In my experience, the product development process takes between 6 months and 2 years, depending on how complex the product is.
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Matthew’s Answer

Mechanical Engineers can play a range of roles in the design and creation process for products and components, from making detailed mechanical drawings for individual parts to leading every aspect of a project. Some tasks you could expect to do during your day: gather customer requirements of mechanical aspects of a product, help develop concepts, make parts and drawings in 3D and 2D CAD, help machinists understand drawings and build to print, work with vendors to purchase components, do hands-on testing, do hand calculations and computer analysis (e.g. Finite Element Analysis (FEA)), provide budget and schedule estimates, assemble mechanical components, work with manufacturing to produce the equipment at larger scales. You may be responsible for 1 or many of these tasks depending on the company and how you fit into it.

In order to create something, it really depends on the scope of the project to determine the process.

For large projects, it is a complicated process and could look something like this: You would be a team member. Customer or internal discussions would guide the general scope of the project and then, if it is agreed to go forward, you develop a team. The team would be multi-disciplinary and would include a project and/or commercial managers, many types of engineers, manufacturing support, technicians, and others depending on what the specifics are of the project. Then you would start brainstorming concepts as a group including going to a whiteboard to sketch out ideas. As concepts come together, budgets and scheduling can be estimated. Then, the real work starts!: The mechanical engineer(s) will go off and work on their own concepts of how all the mechanical components need to work and look, and may do more concept drawings with other mechanical or other engineers. They may at that point start modeling components in CAD or go test concepts in a lab. Mechanical engineers will share designs and testing progress with the team regularly to get feedback and the process continues until you have either a prototype or final design. Drawings will most likely need to be made of individual components at either phase to manufacture components; you may do this yourself if there is not a mechanical drafter available. You work with vendors and machinists to manufacture or purchase the components. Then the product would be assembled and tested at the prototype phase, and then go to the customer if it is in the final released product phase. The product can then be transferred to manufacturing so that many products can be made by manufacturing engineers, technicians, or manufacturing staff. The process can take weeks, to months, to years.

Small projects that are mainly mechanical can be much simpler and could be only the Mechanical Engineer doing everything, but follows a similar path: A customer (internal or external to the company) comes to the engineer asking them to make something new. The engineer draws up concepts and presents the ideas to the customer. Customer provides feedback and changes to the concept are made, if necessary. The engineer then designs the product, typically in CAD, makes detailed drawings, then has parts made. The engineer may even machine parts themselves. Then the product is assembled and presented to the customer. This process can take days to weeks.

With additive manufacturing, e.g. 3D printing, the smallest projects can go even faster. I have gone from request to concept to design to holding an object in hand in less than a day, sometimes less than an hour!

After receiving a Mechanical Engineering degree, it will take some time to learn all the tools of the trade, and tool specific to a company, to be a useful team member. It may take some time to be well versed enough with the tools to create your own parts, so you may depend on more senior engineers help guide your designs at first. But then, you will be able to understand requirements, develop concepts, and make things come to life!

Hope this helps and good luck!

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