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Mechanical Engineers: How much writing do you do?

  1. Apr 7, 2012 #1
    Hi! Right now I'm in my 2nd year of Mechanical Engineering. The only three ME classes I'm taking are Fluids/Thermo I, Mechanisms, and ME Lab I. I don't particularly like the first two, but I'm doing fairly well in them and they give me something to do. However, the lab is killing me. Every two weeks we write a 10-20 page technical report. Talking to older MEs, it looks like in the next two years they'll all be 30+. Not to mention in my senior classes, I'll be writing reports upwards of 120 pages! I currently spend more time working on those papers than I do on all of my other homework combined (and I have 5 other classes). Is this what mechanical engineering looks like after college? When my dad was in school he never had to do this much writing. If this is what engineering is now then I don't want to have anything to do with it. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 7, 2012 #2
    Engineering is about the design, fabrication and testing of processes and devices. To repeatably do this, you must be able to write documentation in a logical and consistent manner. This is for your own memory and for that of others. A more obvious reason is legal. A single error in your documentation in a life critical application may be the difference between you being in jail or not.

    Writing is very important and it is good to see your school train you early to write rigorously.
  4. Apr 8, 2012 #3
    While chill_factor is right about in principle I can tell you that my job of 2.5 yrs as a mechanical design engineer has had very little technical writing. Now being able to communicate well will always be important and in that way your school is doing you a favor by being so rigorous but don't worry, there's plenty of ME jobs out there that require minimal technical writing.

    It all depends on what type of job you get, my job focuses on generating 3-D models and drafting them, so I do a huge amount of drawing and a lot of emailing back in forth about various design/manufacturing issues. The closes I'll get to technical writing like that of my school labs would be making power point presentations for design reviews.

    Now if I were a stress engineer at my company I would be writing some more technical papers since I'd be doing certification tests on company products, so they'd want a lab like report for each test. Even then though the methods used in each test would be similar, so unlike school where every experiment is unlike the last I'd eventually get acquainted with how my company wants there reports written and the process would become less tedious.

    So in short, no you aren't doomed to a life of technical writing if you stick with your ME degree (at least if you're not goin for a Ph.D lol), but all that experience your getting in school will definitely help you throughout your career. Managers will often judge you on how professional you can write.
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