What Do Mechanical Engineers Do?


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The Undergraduate Catalog describes mechanical engineers in the following way:

                       Mechanical engineers are directly and broadly concerned with the engineering systems used to control and
                       transform energy to meet the needs of humanity. They design, develop, and produce devices and systems
                       from space probes to washing machines, from turbojet engines to lawn mowers, from automatic machine
                       tools and vending machines to computer-controlled systems. Because mechanical engineering is one of the
                       broadest-based fields of technical study, it is also an excellent foundation for further education in business,
                       law, medicine, and other professions that require a good working knowledge of science and technology. 

                       In addition to the physical sciences, mathematics, and the engineering sciences, mechanical engineering
                       majors study the humanities and social sciences to understand more fully the engineer's relationship and
                       responsibilities to society. Through advanced courses in engineering design and synthesis, they cultivate the
                       ability to apply this knowledge to the analysis and solution of significant engineering problems. 

                       The mechanical engineering curriculum is designed to provide a strong foundation in analysis,
                       problem-solving, engineering design, and communication that graduates can use to further their professional
                       goals through practice or graduate study in engineering or the pursuit of further professional education in
                       another field. Because engineering is a constantly evolving profession, the curriculum seeks to give students
                       the study and organizational skills that support lifelong learning. 

                       Graduates of the program are expected to be able to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and
                       engineering; design and conduct experiments and engineering tests, as well as analyze and interpret data;
                       design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs; function on multidisciplinary teams; identify,
                       formulate, and solve engineering problems; understand professional and ethical responsibilities in the
                       practice of engineering; communicate effectively using oral, written, and graphical expressions, including
                       technical reports; appreciate the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context; recognize
                       the need for and have the ability to engage in independent study and lifelong learning; understand
                       contemporary issues and the ways they affect the practice of engineering; use the techniques, skills, and
                       modern engineering tools, including computers, that are appropriate for good engineering practice. 

Curtin University defines the Professional Mechanical Engineer:

The Professional Mechanical Engineer is involved with the conception, design, manufacture, control, maintenance and management of any system which has motion including mechanisms, fluids, gases and synthesised combinations of these. The discipline is central to humanity's need to harness the energy and forces of nature to useful and productive ends. Machines of every description are therefore included within the mechanical engineer's sphere of activity. 

The tools of the profession are mathematics and applied science, including the study of materials and their properties. Typical tasks undertaken by a mechanical engineer include design and specification of components or entire systems, design and planning of manufacturing processes, plant operation and maintenance, consulting, research and development and management. Each of these tasks will take place in a wide range of different industries such as power generation, mining, mineral processing, transport, water supply and their support industries. 

The Professional Mechanical Engineer is central to national economic growth and wealth creation. 

The University of South Alabama has this to say:

Mechanical engineers are men and women who design machines, products, and systems essential to everyday life. Mechanical engineers design complex systems such as airplanes, automobiles, satellites, power plants and also simple devices like doorknobs, and fishing reels. In fact, mechanical engineers play a role in most of the things that people use. 

Mechanical engineers are concerned with the principles of motion, energy, and force. Generally, a machine converts one form of movement into another. It is the responsibility of engineers to design machines whose parts and assemblies function in a safe and reliable, efficient, and predictable fashion. 

In the words of one author, the mechanical engineer "applies the scientific method to the solution of mechanical problems." Indeed the numerous laws and principles developed by scientists are everyday tools of the mechanical engineer. Anything the engineer does that is related the motion and dynamics of heat, gas, air, fluids and solid materials requires the understanding and application of science. 

In fact, there are probably as many definitions of what it takes to be a mechanical engineer as there are mechanical engineers.  Visit ASME's web page for more information about the current state of the profession..



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