Posted By: Brightwood Engineering Education
Updated: August 18, 2017
Many engineering fields are creative in nature: Engineers are presented a problem and are tasked with finding ways to solve it. Often, those solutions are unique; other times they involve taking an existing idea and improving on it. A mechanical engineer specifically develops new equipment and products to optimize production or improve work processes.
Mechanical engineers design power-producing machines, including electric generators, internal combustion engines, and steam and gas turbines. In addition, they design power-using machines, such as refrigeration and air-conditioning systems. Mechanical engineers also design machines that function inside buildings, such as elevators and escalators. Virtually every company has a need for a mechanical engineer. Companies as diverse as aircraft manufacturer Boeing, software giant Microsoft, and the US Department of Energy, all employ mechanical engineers. Automotive, aerospace, and electronics are just a few examples of industries frequently hiring mechanical engineers.
With Tesla, GM, Toyota, and Nissan all offering electric vehicles, there are many opportunities to work in futuristic technology. The world's transportation is gradually seeing an increase in the use of electric or hybrid cars. In addition, car part suppliers are often tasked with designing the most innovative systems within an automobile—the manufacturer itself is often more concerned with integrating the technology. For example, a company that applies industrial coatings to auto parts also designs and builds the robots that apply the coating.
Mechanical engineers design, test, and manufacture within the aerospace industry. Design of structure includes fuselage, wing, empennage, power plant, and landing gear. The design of systems is more centered on the integration of parts. For instance, a mechanical engineer could work on one or more of the components required to create a Rolls-Royce aero engine. A typical course of study includes machine design, mechanics, internal combustion engines, and fluid mechanics, which are all critical principles of the aerospace industry.
The great outdoors is also home to many mechanical engineers, particularly in the chemical segment, which includes the oil industry. Oil companies need mechanical engineers to ensure the rigs are always producing optimally. When equipment breaks, the engineers provide failure analysis and redesigns. Mechanical engineers working for companies that do exploration and production would perform integrity engineering on pipelines, while those at service companies doing field work would design different tools or methods to optimize and secure the manufacturing process.
Mechanical engineers are sought after because their skills are generally adaptable to most disciplines. In addition, employers like to see creativity, because engineering is a field based on innovation. In addition, strong communication skills are necessary to ensure the needs of clients and other stakeholders are being met. Finally, problem-solving skills are crucial...no matter the field of discipline. In combination with math skills and analytical abilities, problem-solving is a passport to success as a mechanical engineer.
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