Are you in search of a major with practical applications? Do you want to help people improve their quality of life? Are you looking for a course of study that will push you to the intellectual brink and allow you to make new discoveries? If you’ve answered in the affirmative, you should think about exploring mechanical engineering.
As a mechanical engineering student, you’ll study the application of mechanical and thermal sciences. In layman’s terms, this means you will focus on the design and mechanics behind all types of machines, from toasters to helicopters and everything in between. Requirements are often broken down into subsections such as design and dynamic systems, energy-thermo fluids, solid mechanics and manufacturing/industrial. Moreover, classes will be balanced with laboratory work. Be forewarned, though a thrilling major, mechanical engineering carries a rigorous and heavy workload. You must be prepared to hit the books and hit them hard!
As is the case with virtually all engineering disciplines, quantitative skills are of primary importance for mechanical engineering. Beyond mathematical ability, it’s essential to be a strong problem solver who can effectively communicate complex solutions. Finally, you also might find yourself at an advantage if you enjoy dismantling things!
Nuts and Bolts
As a mechanical engineering student, you’ll have the privilege of taking such fascinating (and challenging) courses as: Dynamics, Engineering Graphics, Mechanics of Materials, Thermodynamics I, Machine Dynamics, Metallurgy Laboratory, Corrosion Principles, Power Plant Systems, Introduction to Computer-Aided Design, Stress Analysis, Manufacturing Sciences, Mechanical Dissection, Introduction to Polymer Processing, Numerical Control, Design Problems in Elasticity and Elementary Heat Transfer.
Mechanical engineering undergrads are typically drawn to the sciences and are likely to also consider studying physics, electrical engineering, chemical engineering, civil engineering, astrophysics, chemistry, biomedical engineering, robotics, computer science, industrial engineering, aerospace engineering, aviation, nuclear engineering and mathematics.
Fortunately for mechanical engineering students, this branch of engineering has a wide range of applications. Indeed, you can find mechanical engineers in any number of industries, from automotive and aerospace to pharmaceuticals and consulting. And within those fields, there are multiple avenues to pursue such as product design, research and development, manufacturing, marketing, systems management and energy. More specifically, you might work on designing more efficient car engines, new and improved artificial organs, innovative prosthetics or heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems. You might also work on determining the need and the market for a new product. Finally, it should be noted that although you can certainly find employment with an engineering degree, you will not be a full-fledged, licensed engineer. Indeed, you will have to pass the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam (known as the FE) administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. Upon successful completion of the FE exam, you will acquire an apprenticeship to qualify for the Professional Engineer exam (known as the PE). Once you pass the PE exam, you will become a fully-certified engineer!