Mechanical Engineering - A Broad Field

Posted by Chris.   [PICTURE: SAME | NEW | HELP]

Coach on team #308, Walled Lake Monster, from Walled Lake Schools and TRW Automotive Electronics.

Posted on 10/12/2000 7:36 AM MST

Mechanical engineering is a very broad field with a lot of career possibilities. Just look at me. I’m a mechanical engineer working with control systems and signal processing. Some of my major job duties involve writing software.

Anyway, here are some of the disciplines of mechanical engineering and the careers in those fields (help me out if I forget some):

  1. Thermo-fluid sciences: internal combustion engines, heating and cooling systems, piping, irrigation, pumps, accoustics, etc.

  2. Statics / Structure: frames for autos, bike, motorcycles, moving structural members for suspension, almost anything, really.

  3. Dynamics: vehicle dynamics (big now with SUV vehicle stabiliy and anti-rollover), aircraft and spaceship dynamics, kinematics (trajectory planning for spacecraft), etc.

  4. Dynamic systems / vibration: accoustics, suspension systems, vibration reduction and control, multi-energy domain systems (ie, electrical systems coupled to mechanical systems coupled to a hydraulic system ex: an electric motor turning a shaft on a pump that pumps fluid), steering, etc.

  5. Controls: cruise control, ABS, traction control, thermal system control, aircraft stability, sensing systems, vibration control, etc.

One interesting thing about mechanical engineering is that one end of the spectrum is very different from the other. But this really illustrates how different disciplines of engineerig overlap. Much of the thermal-fluid sciences are also very important in chemical engineering and aerospace engineering. Controls theory is studied in basically all engineering disciplines. Dynamics is big in aerospace eng. and dynamic systems is important in aero as well as EE. Structure and vibration are important in civil engineering.

In general, all engineering disciplines overlap. You can surely study many different things in ME, but the same is also true in the other disciplines. When you get to the middle of you junior year, you’ll probably have had enough classes to decide upon a discipline to concentrate on. Until then, don’t worry about it too much. Just make some notes in the back of your head as to which classes you enjoy and which ones you don’t.

Posted by Jason Iannuzzi.

Engineer on team #11, Marauders, from Mt. Olive HS. and BASF, Rame Hart, CCM.

Posted on 10/13/2000 7:41 AM MST

In Reply to: Mechanical Engineering - A Broad Field posted by Chris on 10/12/2000 7:36 AM MST:

I’d consider myself a General Practitioner of Mechanical Engineering, at least in my current position.

Some of the tasks I do during the day:

Systems Integration - A few services we sell involve many different mechanical and electrical systems that must be coordinated.

Product Design - We develop new product lines all the time. I may be doing sheet metal, plastics, machined parts, conceptuals, etc., whatever it takes to get it done.

Manufacturing Engineering - We’re a small firm, and we don’t staff a Manu. Eng., so when questions arise from our Production Dept., we have to answer them ourselves.

Technology Evaluations - Our products are very high tech, and we constantly receive new technology prototypes. We have to decide if they would make a good basis for a new product.

Test Engineer - We frequently benchmark our production units against competitors and ourselves to make sure we maintain a level of quality.

Just thought the view from a different perspective might be nice. I work in a small company, and we have to wear many, many hats.