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Importance of mechanical engineering

I heard that mechanical engineering is the basis for the other engineering professions. Is this true?

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icon-country-tagsunited-states-of-america

icon-country-tagsunited-states-of-america

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Nine answers:

Although mechanical engineering is very important, I wouldn't necessarily call it the basis for other engineering professions. Instead, I think of it as more of a great discipline, which studies many of the core elements that are incorporated into other engineering fields. Take for example bio-engineering. In many cases it is the combination of topics covered in mechanical engineering with those of biology, chemistry, materials science, and many others.

At MIT, I took a few mechanical engineering classes before I switched into Materials Science and Engineering, and although we covered some of the same topics (mechanical stress and strain for example), the focus was on different applications. While mechanical engineering was more focused on large objects (cantilevered beams for example), materials science was much more focused on atomic interactions.

So if you are interested in working in an engineering field but unsure of what you want to study, mechanical engineering is a great place to start, as it is fairly easy to transition into other engineering fields. However, each engineering field has its own specialities that will need to be mastered.


Five comments

In the beginning, it was Civil… We celebrate National Engineers Week in the U.S. during the week of Washington’s Birthday annually. The concept and tradition both started in 1951. President George Washington is widely viewed as the first American Engineer. Though he had no formal education, we now consider his work in surveying and building to be Civil Engineering.

Then came Mechanical Engineering....
One of the oldest disciplines, Mechanical Engineering, focuses on energy use, processing of materials, control and automation of manufacturing systems, and design and development of machines. The world’s first mechanical engineer was likely Archimedes of Syracuse, He created many different types of machines, including efficient screws and levers. Mechanical Engineering sub-disciplines: Air & Power, Structures & Dynamics, Fuel, Actuation, Wheels & Brakes, Materials, Reliability, Safety, Mechanical Design, and many more. The first US degree program was in 1817 at the US Military Academy.

Learning to fly… Once flight became reality, Mechanical Engineering spawned a sub-discipline focusing on airborne vehicles. Aerospace engineers design aircraft and spacecraft; essentially, Aerospace Engineering is Mechanical Engineering applied to aircraft and spacecraft. Although ancient Greece’s Daedalus recorded one of the first attempts at human flight, we acknowledge Leonardo da Vinci as the first aerospace engineer.

A shocking development… Like its mechanical cousin, Electrical Engineering also came to prominence in the nineteenth century. Earlier eras were aware of, and used, shocks from animals such as eels and rays, but mostly for medicinal purposes. England’s William Gilbert, a sixteenth-century astronomer who worked in the fields of magnetism and electricity, is known as the world’s first electrical engineer. He even coined the word ‘electricity’. Electrical Engineering really began to grow upon the invention of the electric telegraph and telephone. Today there are many sub-specialties, including microelectronics, communications, signal processing and controls.

Putting it all together …. Computer Engineering integrates the Mechanical and Electrical. Computer Engineers train in a combination of electrical engineering, software design, and hardware/software integration. Integration is the key feature of this discipline, which is relatively recent--Case Western Reserve University awarded the first degree in 1972.

Today, many more types of engineering exist. Current disciplines include Aerospace, Agricultural, Biomedical, Chemical, Civil, Industrial, Manufacturing, Mechanical, Mining, Nuclear, Petroleum, Sanitary, Software and Traffic. Of these, the most common ones practiced are Aerospace, Computer, Electrical, Mechanical and Software.


Two comments

List of Engineering degrees you can find online and their relevance to Mechanical Engg -

Acoustic Engineering - Somewhat related;

Aerospace Engineering - Relevant;

Agricultural Engineering- Somewhat related;

Applied Engineering- Relevant;

Architectural Engineering- Relevant;

Audio Engineering- Somewhat related;

Automotive Engineering- Relevant;

Biomedical Engineering- Relevant;

Chemical Engineering- Somewhat related;

Civil Engineering- Relevant;

Computer Engineering- Relevant (Builds logic required for programming);

Electrical Engineering - Unrelated;

Environmental Engineering- Relevant;

Industrial Engineering- Relevant;

Marine Engineering- Relevant;

Materials Science Engineering- Relevant;

Mechanical Engineering- Relevant;

Mechatronic Engineering- Relevant;

Mining and Geological Engineering- Somewhat related;

Molecular Engineering- -Unrelated;

Nanoengineering- Unrelated;

Nuclear Engineering- Relevant;

Petroleum Engineering- Somewhat related;

Software Engineering- Relevant (Logic development);

Structural Engineering- Relevant;

Telecommunications Engineering -Unrelated;

Thermal Engineering- Relevant;

Transport Engineering- Relevant;

Vehicle Engineering- Relevant;

So from list above you see that Mechanical Engg. is relevant to many (if not all) fields.


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Yes, Civil Engineering comes to mind get your PE lic, if needed. Practising Engineer. Each state has that PE designation, but the rules may be different for each on also. Good luck


One comment

I wouldn't say it is the basis of other types of engineering so you don't need to study mechanical engineering if you want to be an electrical engineer or other types. In college, there are typically some more basic engineering / math courses you'll take in your first year that apply to multiple types of engineering.


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Mechanical Engineering has been around for a very long time. It has grown tremendously over the years and has been an integral part in shaping our world today. According to http://www.greatachievements.org/and The University of Louisville’s Mechanical Engineering Department out of the 20 greatest engineering achievements of all time eight of them were the primary responsibility of Mechanical Engineers, and Mechanical Engineering. These technologies were: the Automobile, Airplane, Agricultural Mechanization, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration, Spacecraft, Household Appliances, Nuclear Technologies, High-performance Materials. As you can see, many of these are an integral part of our lives each day.Without these advances, our lives would be nowhere near as luxurious as they are today. Of those 20 engineering achievements, five others involve many contributions from Mechanical Engineers. These are: Electrification, Water Supply and Distribution, Highways, Imaging, Health Technologies, Petroleum and Petrochemical Technologies. Obviously the first two are two of the most important achievements in history, without electricity you would not be reading this wonderful masterpiece. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers also compiled a list of technologies and achievements, inventions, and processes primarily fueled by Mechanical Engineers and their direct work. Some of these are: Agricultural Mechanization, Bio engineering, food processing, and plastic manufacturing. These are just as important as the others I had mentioned earlier, because these are also very important aspects of our daily lives. Without cars or airplanes we would not be able to travel so easily to our destinations. Without agricultural mechanization, we would not be able to harvest crops as well, causing many crops to be harvested incorrectly, causing a shortage in our food supply, not just in years past, but even now, in other countries. Refrigeration plays a key role in our lives as well, because if we did not have refrigeration, our food would rot and decay faster than we could eat it, causing many more food shortages. These are just a few of the ways Mechanical Engineers have shaped our world for the better. Our world revolves around the use of processes developed and revolutionized by Mechanical Engineers. One thing is for sure, the world would look very different if it wasn’t for us.


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Professional opportunities for mechanical engineering graduates are too numerous to list. Mechanical engineers are typically involved with the generation, distribution, and use of energy; the processing of materials; the control and automation of manufacturing systems; the design and development of machines. Everyday conveniences such as refrigeration, microwave cooking, high-fidelity sound reproduction, transportation, communication, and copying are affordable largely because mechanical and other engineers worked together to make it happen.


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As you now know, Mechanical Engineering has been around for a very long time. It has grown tremendously over the years and has been an integral part in shaping our world today. According to http://www.greatachievements.org/and The University of Louisville’s Mechanical Engineering Department out of the 20 greatest engineering achievements of all time eight of them were the primary responsibility of Mechanical Engineers, and Mechanical Engineering. These technologies were: the Automobile, Airplane, Agricultural Mechanization, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration, Spacecraft, Household Appliances, Nuclear Technologies, High-performance Materials. As you can see, many of these are an integral part of our lives each day.Without these advances, our lives would be nowhere near as luxurious as they are today. Of those 20 engineering achievements, five others involve many contributions from Mechanical Engineers. These are: Electrification, Water Supply and Distribution, Highways, Imaging, Health Technologies, Petroleum and Petrochemical Technologies. Obviously the first two are two of the most important achievements in history, without electricity you would not be reading this wonderful masterpiece. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers also compiled a list of technologies and achievements, inventions, and processes primarily fueled by Mechanical Engineers and their direct work. Some of these are: Agricultural Mechanization, Bio engineering, food processing, and plastic manufacturing. These are just as important as the others I had mentioned earlier, because these are also very important aspects of our daily lives. Without cars or airplanes we would not be able to travel so easily to our destinations. Without agricultural mechanization, we would not be able to harvest crops as well, causing many crops to be harvested incorrectly, causing a shortage in our food supply, not just in years past, but even now, in other countries. Refrigeration plays a key role in our lives as well, because if we did not have refrigeration, our food would rot and decay faster than we could eat it, causing many more food shortages. These are just a few of the ways Mechanical Engineers have shaped our world for the better. Our world revolves around the use of processes developed and revolutionized by Mechanical Engineers. One thing is for sure, the world would look very different if it wasn’t for us.


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Mechanical engineering is one of the broadest and oldest branches of engineering. Mechanical engineers are involved with the design, analysis, testing, manufacturing, control, operation, and maintenance of mechanical systems - that is, any system that has a moving part! Mechanical systems can vary greatly in complexity and magnitude from the valve in an artificial heart to a car engine to a mammoth nuclear power plant. It deals with all aspects of the conversion of thermal energy into useful work and the machines that make this possible.


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