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Questions on the responsibilities of a mechanical engineer.

  1. Mar 25, 2012 #1
    Hello, my name is Thomas and I am very interested in becoming a mechanical engineer. I am an engine tranny tech at a automotive shop and I am very mechanically inclined. I was wondering if there are any mechanical or electrical engineers that could give me a detailed description of what they do for work. I have looked up the responsibilities of a mechanical / electrical engineer and it is so vague. You don't need to tell me where you work or anything to personally. I am just looking for something with more detail then "you will problem solve and fix things". Any detail will help thank you very much
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 25, 2012 #2
    you will use math and science to problem solve and fix things. you'll probably work at a desk or lab.

    seriously, that's the basics of engineering. if you aren't good at math, and science, then you had better hit the books.
  4. Mar 25, 2012 #3
    Yes I love math and science. I am not worried about that at all and I would love to work in a lab. I was just hoping for a more detailed description of the day to day responsibility's I would need to do. Thank you.
  5. Mar 25, 2012 #4
    1. Read tons of email. So much.
    2. Talk on Skype. A lot. Talk on phone a lot too.
    3. Get really good at excel. Excel is your friend.
    4. Solidworks/Inventor is fun, but use is limited as your days are dominated by managerial tasks.
    5. Math and design are the fun part, but email and management is 75% of your work.

    Your mileage may vary.

    1. Invest your time to really understand parametric 3D modeling.
    2. The big picture stuff is easy; pay attention to the details.
    3. Become an excel god.

    You will be indispensable to the company and save yourself a ton of work.
  6. Mar 25, 2012 #5
    Thank you VERY much. Your the first straight answer I have gotten. I post on blogs and have asked around and all I get is " You need to know math and you need to problem solve". Its so frustrating to hear that over and over. So thank you for your very fast response.
  7. Mar 25, 2012 #6
    Glad I could help. As far as math goes........... it really depends. If you are working in an established industry most of your mathematics will be laid out already in text books. I will just be a matter of looking up and applying the appropriate equations, and combining them in meaningful ways.
    And when you encounter very complicated problems, many people employ special designed software to crunch through the numbers.

    The most important thing to understand, I think, is that you will be dealing with and handling large amounts of disparate data. By that I mean you will need to keep in mind, performance data, mechanical data, sales data, supplier data, market data, inter-personal relations data, and on and on all at once for every project. It's quite demanding and fun. Go for it.

    Do study the boring stuff. Nobody wants to do the boring stuff. If you master the tedious and obtuse, you will be invaluable.
  8. Mar 25, 2012 #7


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    I am retired now, but most of my career was doing mathematical modeling (writing mathematical equations that describe physical systems, then generating computer solutions), and analysis (applying mathematical models to answer specific questions). Over the years, I worked in a wide variety of industries including electric power generation, steel production, precision mechanisms, diesel power, natural gas transmission, aerospace components, printing and web handling industries, gear manufacturing, etc.

    It has really been interesting and diverse. I cannot say that my career has been the common one, because I have made an effort to search out variety. I had to always be ready to say, "I can solve that," no matter what the problem was, and then go do it. It has been fun!!
  9. Mar 27, 2012 #8
    Thank you very much. If there is anyone else who wants to add to this fill free.
  10. Apr 9, 2012 #9
    I work in the subsea oil field.

    What you will do as a Mechanical Engineer will largely differ from one industry to another. If you work in an industry that deals with robotics, you will be doing as much electrical stuff as mechanical... including program, tuning PID controllers, structural analysis, FEAs, mathematical modeling, Labview, Matlab.

    Now if you are working in a petro chemical plant as a project engineer....... your job duties will be completely different.

    See what I mean?

    So if you have a certain goal in mind as to which industry you want to enter into, I could answer your question more specifically... as mechanical engineering is one of the broadest fields of engineering.
  11. Apr 9, 2012 #10
    Thanks and yes I see what you mean. I was thinking about becoming a mechanical engineer working on robotic or energy harvesting. ( I know its a broad field ) I was also thinking about becoming an electrical engineer. I was just hoping to get an idea of what other engineers are doing. I have done a lot of research and it sounds like something I really really want to do. Its just very hard for me to explain what engineers do in a few sentences. Thank you for responding to my post harrisiqbal! It means alot.
  12. Apr 10, 2012 #11
    Thank you very much for all the responses. I have heard a lot of engineers saying they might have to relocate to find a job. Is this normal? I live near Boston Massachusetts and was hoping to stay close but for the pay I would have no problem moving. So how often do engineers move for there jobs? I know the word engineer is very vage I was just hoping to get an idea.
  13. Apr 11, 2012 #12


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    One suggestion: when a potential employer asks if you are willing to relocate ALWAYS answer "YES". If they really want to hire you, and they actually want you to relocate, then they would pay for everything. Often, however, the question is to measure your willingness to cooperate, NOT to relocate. It is a kind of a "trick question" Human Resource geeks have cooked up, sorry to say.
  14. Apr 11, 2012 #13
    I will always say yes to relocate. I just wanted to know how often do engineers relocate to get the job. Again I have no problem relocating I was just curious.
  15. Apr 11, 2012 #14


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    ThomasG: I can think of no way to answer your question "how often do engineers relocate to get the job".

    It always depends on the conditions at the moment. I myself went from Ohio to Southern California in the '60s because that's where the Military-Defense jobs were.

    When Boeing recently got a HUGE contract to build many 787 Dreamliners there was a rush of aerospace workers from all over the world to Seattle...and many got hired.

    When the Space Shuttle program was stopped, there was a mass exodus of engineers from Cape Canaveral to...I don't really know where.

    Engineers go to where the work is.
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