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What Do Mechanical Engineers Do? Unlocking the Mysteries of the Profession

Editorial Team
Editorial Team

The world we live in today has a lot of moving parts. From cars to medical equipment to robots on the assembly line, ensuring that systems work correctly and safely is more important than ever. That’s where mechanical engineers come in. Mechanical engineers are professionals that use the principles of engineering, physics, and materials science to design, analyze, manufacture, and maintain mechanical systems.

They're some of the most sought-after talents in the world, as they have a broad range of skills that allow them to work in many industries. This article will explain what mechanical engineers do and the different types of work they perform.

What Is Mechanical Engineering?

Simply put, mechanical engineering is the study of parts, systems, and objects in motion. It combines the principles of physics and mathematics to understand how things work together to ultimately perform cohesive functions. Mechanical engineering is considered one of the broadest disciplines in engineering, focusing on everything from system conception and design to manufacturing, maintenance, and evaluation. The field often works with other areas of its field, like chemical, electronic, electrical, and civil engineering, to develop complex products. From medical devices to space shuttles, mechanical engineering is responsible for the realization of numerous pieces of technology and tools that make modern life possible.

Industries that rely heavily on the science of mechanical engineering include the following:

  • Manufacturing
  • Construction
  • Renewable Energy
  • Aerospace
  • Automotive
  • Material Handling
  • Oil and Gas
  • Petrochemicals
  • Gas Separation
  • Nanotechnology
  • Robotics and Mechatronics
  • Utility Systems
  • Thermal Power Plants
  • Biomechanics

What Types of Mechanical Engineers Are There?

Before going any further, it's worth noting that there are many types of mechanical engineers. Some may specialize in some areas more than others and therefore have different job duties. Generally speaking, the work of a mechanical engineer is divided into three main categories:

Design Engineers: Mechanical engineers are responsible for designing and developing mechanical systems, components, and machines.

Manufacturing Engineers: Manufacturing engineers are responsible for the design and optimization of manufacturing processes.

Maintenance Engineers: Maintenance engineers handle the maintenance, repair, and troubleshooting of mechanical systems.

Most professionals will choose one of these subsets and focus on it. However, some mechanical engineers may have a combination of skills and be able to work on all three.

What Do Mechanical Engineers Do?

Now that you know the different types of mechanical engineers, let’s take a look at some examples of what they do.

Product Design and Development

Mechanical engineers play a key role in the development of efficient, reliable, and safe products. They design parts and systems for various products, from cars and aircraft to medical devices and military equipment. They consider factors like weight, strength, cost, materials, and production processes when coming up with the most viable and cost-effective design.

Machine Design and Simulation

Mechanical engineers use computer simulations to test out their designs and modify them as needed. They create virtual simulations of machines, examine how tension, strain, and vibration will affect the machine’s performance, and make adjustments accordingly. A mechanical engineer may also design machines for specific purposes, like robots for assembling products in a factory or turbines for power plants.

Manufacturing and Quality Control

Mechanical engineers are a critical part of the manufacturing process. They oversee production processes to make sure that quality standards are met and machinery is properly maintained. They also help to troubleshoot production issues, optimize processes for efficiency and cost savings, and develop safety protocols.

Maintenance and Repair

The work of a mechanical engineer doesn’t end with the design and production of a product. They also manage its maintenance and repairs, making sure that all systems are running smoothly and efficiently. Mechanical engineers may also be involved in the evaluation of existing products to determine their safety, effectiveness, and cost-efficiency.

What Does It Take to Become a Mechanical Engineer?

Becoming a mechanical engineer requires strong technical and problem-solving skills, as well as an understanding of complex systems. A solid foundation in mathematics, physics, and engineering principles is also essential.

As for hard qualifications, mechanical engineers usually need at least a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, although some positions may require a master’s or even a doctorate. A Professional Engineer (PE) license also helps demonstrate mastery of the field and can open up new doors in terms of job opportunities.

Most mechanical engineering graduates usually undergo at least one year of on-the-job training before they can work independently. This period allows them to gain experience, acquire new skills, and become familiar with the specific systems they are working with. Additionally, many mechanical engineers also receive additional training throughout their careers to stay up-to-date on the latest developments in the industry.

If you want to become a mechanical engineer, it is highly recommended that you get extra help and guidance from a math tutor. With the assistance of a math tutor, mechanical engineers can gain the necessary numerical skills, better understand complex equations, and hone their problem-solving skills.

Final Thoughts

Mechanical engineers play an important role in creating and maintaining the machines, components, and systems that make our world work. They have a wide range of responsibilities, from designing and simulating products to overseeing their production and maintenance. It's both a challenging and rewarding job, not to mention one in high demand across a variety of industries. 

If you have the necessary technical and problem-solving skills, as well as a good knowledge of mathematics and engineering principles, then a career as a mechanical engineer is definitely worth considering.

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