About Mechanical Engineering
|"He was an engineer...he grew up admiring competence. The incompetent stood and cursed the problem and kicked it and caused more problems. The engineer studied the problem, devised a solution, and when it failed he made intelligent revisions."|
|– Garrison Keillor|
Engineers are the people who apply science for the benefit of humankind, and mechanical engineers are the ones who deal with moving parts, flow and heat. They identify problems and needs - openings where technology can help people - and develop solutions that work. Virtually everything you buy or use has had an mechanical engineer involved in its design and production. They design and develop everything that qualifies as a device or machine, from an item as simple as a can opener to a modern jet aircraft.
The list includes:
- Home appliances (refrigerator, central heating, dishwasher)
- Engines and vehicles (cars, farm machinery, trains, boats and aircraft)
- Personal electronics (from the casing of a drop-proof mp3 player to the equipment that manufactures CPUs)
- Energy conversion equipment (wind turbines and the steam and gas turbines used in modern electric power plants).
Mechanical engineers don't design quite everything, but they do design the tools and processes that make every tangible product. Robots that weld car bodies, automatic vehicles that feed materials through a factory, and the methods used to melt and shape metals and plastics are all the result of mechanical engineering design and development.
Mechanical engineers are at the centre of the energy industry. They are creating the innovations that will let us the technology that will let us access energy from renewable sources, as well as developing technologies to ensure that we use established energy sources efficiently and responsibly. Mechanical engineers are creating high-performance materials for larger, more economical, recyclable wind turbine blades and developing wave energy systems that can survive an Atlantic storm.
The challenge facing mechanical engineers is the constant demand for newer, better, faster, more affordable, more reliable, more versatile, longer lasting and more sustainable products and processes. They use a mix of science and mathematics along with engineering techniques to design, test and create. They know how to integrate their mechanical designs with electrical and electronic systems, and use specialised computation as a tool to support their work. This technical competence must be complemented by managerial and personal skills required to interact with engineering teams, customers and employers. It's no coincidence that many mechanical engineers go on to own or run a business.