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How often is mathematics used in Mechanical Engineering?

  1. May 4, 2012 #1

    What kinds of mathematics are used in Mechanical Engineering? How often is math used? Is it used almost every step of the way? I'm a physics and mathematics fanatic and I am trying to find a career with a lot of mathematics, physics, and mechanical kind of stuff.

  2. jcsd
  3. May 4, 2012 #2
    i dig trig.

    I think you can find as much as you want. there is always room for improving the equations used.
  4. May 4, 2012 #3
    Depends on the field you get into, the work you are doing, and the company.

    You can do tons of math as an ME, or you can do very little. You can do lots of easy calcs and estimations, or you can do large complex analyses (though, keep in mind these are not generally done by hand).

    Engineering in practice isn't exactly a "theory" field. It's application, it's being practical. No one wants to pay you for 8 hours solving a complex differential equation for a beam analysis so that you can get the result accurate to within 1/10000000 when you are just going to throw on a 30+% Factor of Safety. (And usually more than that for most non-specialized items)
  5. May 4, 2012 #4
    Definitely. in the heavy equipment field, safety factors are rather large.
  6. May 5, 2012 #5
    Many non-ME’s seem to think that there is a job description written somewhere that says, “Mechanical Engineer.” No such job exists. What there are is thousands of different jobs, each requiring a different skill set. Some are very math intensive, and others are not. But mostly these days we find a computer application to do the math for us.

    The product my company specializes in requires more analysis than any other mechanical system I’ve ever worked on since graduating in 1979. (Gas turbines and jet engines.) Part of the reason for this is that very hot and rapidly rotating precision mechanisms cannot be designed with large safety factors. Every airplane flying is operating critical components at yield or above on every flight.

    I’m a mechanical design engineer. I’m expected to do quick hand calculations to get me into the ball park. In other jobs, I’d just throw a standard safety factor on top of that and whip out a drawing. But in this job, I’ll then generate a quick design and build an ANSYS model to help me optimize it. The design then goes to our analysis group where it gets a very detailed analysis on much larger computers than the designers have access to. Several engineers may spend weeks doing that analysis. They recommend changes to optimize the design, and we then begin several iterations of that.

    Before I ever got the design parameters, another analysis group evaluated the customer’s requirements and gave me my design objectives.

    From what you say in your postings, I have a hunch that you might enjoy a job in one of these analysis groups.
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