What Is Mechanical Engineering?
Mechanical engineers make a difference
That’s because mechanical engineering careers center on creating technologies to meet human needs. Virtually every product or service in modern life has probably been touched in some way by a mechanical engineer to help humankind.
This includes solving today’s problems and creating future solutions in health care, energy, transportation, world hunger, space exploration, climate change, and more.
Being ingrained in many challenges and innovations across many fields means a mechanical engineering education is versatile.
To meet this broad demand, mechanical engineers may design a component, a machine, a system, or a process.
This ranges from the macro to the micro, from the largest systems like cars and satellites to the smallest components like sensors and switches. Anything that needs to be manufactured—indeed, anything with moving parts—needs the expertise of a mechanical engineer.
What do mechanical engineers do?Mechanical engineering combines creativity, knowledge and analytical tools to complete the difficult task of shaping an idea into reality.
Disciplines within mechanical engineering include but are not limited to:
- Autonomous Systems
- Computer Aided Design (CAD)
- Control Systems
- Cyber security
- Human health
- Manufacturing and additive manufacturing
- Production planning
- Structural analysis
What careers are there in mechanical engineering?Society depends on mechanical engineering. The need for this expertise is great in so many fields, and as such, there is no real limit for the freshly minted mechanical engineer. Jobs are always in demand, particularly in the automotive, aerospace, electronics, biotechnology, and energy industries.
Here are a handful of mechanical engineering fields.
staticsIn statics, research focuses on how forces are transmitted to and throughout a structure. Once a system is in motion, mechanical engineers look at dynamics, or what velocities, accelerations and resulting forces come into play. Kinematics then examines how a mechanism behaves as it moves through its range of motion.
Materials scienceDelves into determining the best materials for different applications. A part of that is materials strength—testing support loads, stiffness, brittleness and other properties—which is essential for many construction, automobile, and medical materials.How energy gets converted into useful power is the heart of thermodynamics, as well as determining what energy is lost in the process. One specific kind of energy, heat transfer, is crucial in many applications and requires gathering and analyzing temperature data and distributions.Fluid mechanics which also has a variety of applications, looks at many properties including pressure drops from fluid flow and aerodynamic drag forces.Manufacturing is an important step in mechanical engineering. Within the field, researchers investigate the best processes to make manufacturing more efficient. Laboratory methods focus on improving how to measure both thermal and mechanical engineering products and processes. Likewise,machine design develops equipment-scale processes while Electrical engineering Focuses on circuitry. All this equipment produces vibrations, another field of mechanical engineering, in which researchers study how to predict and control vibrations.Engineering economics makes mechanical designs relevant and usable in the real world by estimating manufacturing and life cycle costs of materials, designs, and other engineered products.
What skills do mechanical engineers need?The essence of engineering is problem solving. With this at its core, mechanical engineering also requires applied creativity—a hands on understanding of the work involved—along with strong interpersonal skills like networking, leadership, and conflict management. Creating a product is only part of the equation; knowing how to work with people, ideas, data, and economics fully makes a mechanical engineer.
What tasks do mechanical engineers do?
- Conceptual design
- Presentations and report writing
- Multidisciplinary teamwork
- Concurrent engineering
- Benchmarking the competition
- Project management
- Data Interpretation
- Developmental design
- Analysis (FEA and CFD)
- Working with suppliers
- Customer service
How much do mechanical engineers salary?
Like careers in many other engineering fields, mechanical engineers are well paid. Compared to other fields, mechanical engineers earn well above average throughout each stage of their careers. According to the United States Department of Labor, the mean salary for a mechanical engineer is $89,800, with the top ten percent earning close to $131,350.
|Mechanical Engineering Salaries||Median Entry-Level Salary 1||Mean Annual Salary 2||Top 10 Percent 3|
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The future of mechanical engineering
Our Bachelor of Science Degree
The bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at Michigan Tech offers undergraduate students many unique, hands-on learning opportunities.
Undergraduate Research Opportunities
Undergraduate research opportunities are plentiful. Our department offers undergraduate students numerous opportunities in research, hands-on experience, and real-world client work. Research projects often require help from students for running simulations, taking data, analyzing results, etc. These opportunities may even be paid, depending on the availability of funds on the particular project. Take advantage of over 50,000 square feet of labs and computer centers, in the 13-story R. L. Smith Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics Building.
Get ready to contribute on the job from day one. Our students benefit from hands-on experiences ranging from our senior capstone design program to our enterprise teams to internships/co-ops. As a mechanical engineer, you can make a difference in the world by using the latest technologies to help solve today’s grand challenges.
Our undergraduate mechanical engineering program is ABET Accredited. ABET accreditation is a significant achievement. We have worked hard to ensure that our program meets the quality standards set by the profession. And, because it requires comprehensive, periodic evaluations, ABET accreditation demonstrates our continuing commitment to the quality of our program—both now and in the future.
Prepare for Graduate Study
Our undergraduate program in mechanical engineering prepares you for advanced study in the field. Earn your MS and/or PhD degrees in mechanical engineering, engineer mechanics, or a related field either at Michigan Tech or at another university.