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Engineering What is mechanical engineering like?

  1. May 3, 2012 #1

    I am considering doing mechanical engineering as a career. What is mechanical engineering like? What are some of the duties like? Is mathematics involved every step of the way? If so, what kind of mathematics are involved?

    I am trying to find a career that is interesting and involves a lot of mathematics as well as hands-on stuff.

    Would Mechanical engineering be good for me? I like:

    -'DIY' kind of stuff

    I'm not really a fan of Chemistry though.

  2. jcsd
  3. May 3, 2012 #2
    If you love it then go for it man!
  4. May 3, 2012 #3
    He doesn't know if he loves it. That's why he's asking what it's like.
  5. May 5, 2012 #4
    It's all about forces and stresses, lots of maths.
  6. May 6, 2012 #5
    Mechanical engineering is primarily about moving machinery, and within this area you can go as mathematical or as hands on as you want.
  7. May 7, 2012 #6
    I graduated 2 years ago and have been working as a Design Engineer since. Based off your list of likes I think you'd enjoy this major, though don't forget to do some research on electrical engineering. If you don't care for chemistry you probably won't care for materials engineering (this will likely be a upper division requirement for mech engineering too, but it'll probably just be a single 101 level class).

    It's not easy to say what types of duties a Mech engineer does though, that can vary widely from company to company. You can find a job where you're challenged to use your knowledge of math and physics to develop novel solutions and new products, but you can also find a job like mine where all you really do is make 3D models and 2D technical drawings and anything else is handed off to another specialist.

    What I'm trying to say here is find a specific job/company you'd want to work for as soon as possible and figure out how to get the specific experience they want before you graduate. If you just graduate with nothing but a master's degree and a great GPA like I did you'll just end up stuck in a lame job or unemployed, most companies will only hire you if you already have experience in the exact computer programs they use (ie ProE vs Solidworks) and if you already have intern/working experience in there specific industry (whether it be bike chains or jet engines). Or you can consider computer science, I have a friend in that and there might as well have never been a recession for him (though I'm watchin that social network bubble closely).
  8. Jan 7, 2013 #7
    Mechanical engineering is inundated with Mathematics and Physics. You will be using Mathematics every step of the way. At some point, a teacher may start using the dreaded word "Qualitative" and you will be disgusted by that, if you're anything like me and my fellow students.
  9. Jan 8, 2013 #8
    It used to be divided into two (perhaps three) major areas of concentration.
    • Mechanics (statics & dynamics analysis) like forces, torques, inertias.
    • Strengths of Materials (stresses & strains, beams & bending, loads on structures/elements and resultant deflections)
    • Machine elements design (shafts, gears, etc.)
    • Vibrations and systems vibratory response analysis

    • Thermodynamics
    • Heat Transfer analysis
    • ...and kind of lumped in this area was...fluid mechanics for fluid flow analysis

    I always thought there was a third area: COMPUTER APPLICATIONS
    • all kinds of different programming technologies to use computers to do all the above stuff.

    Of course it's all heavy on math...math is simply a tool and a common language of communication. Engineering is the practical application of science & physics to solving problems. The difference between the two is (generally, and IMHO) "science" allows long drawn out investigations to seek the perfect or optimal answers (or that similar kind of thought process); "engineering" is the same, but is constrained by limited time schedules, limited funding of budgets, and limited whatevers, so that expeditious solutions (and sometimes not optimal) must be developed, compromised upon, negotiated, and delivered.

    I have always said that surviving an Engineering curriculum changes how your brain works and turns one into a trained problem solver. Companies hire engineers to solve their problems.

    There are plenty of resources on the web to find out "what is mechanical engineering like" and this should be part of your skill-set: learning how to dig, do research and find answers.

    I was told many years ago (and I assume it remains true): Mechanical Engineering is the broadest of all Engineering curricula. From there, one can move into many other fields with further training on top of the basic ME foundation training.
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