Which engineering disciplines does mechanical engineering overlap
Mechanical engineering emerged as a specialty during the industrial revolution in Europe in the 18th century; however, its development can be traced back several thousand years around the world. It is perhaps the most diverse of all engineering disciplines.
Mechanical engineers play an important role in the automotive, aerospace, biotechnology, computer and electronics industries, automation and manufacturing industries. They design, develop, build and test all kinds of mechanical devices, tools, motors and machines.
Mechanical engineers are able to design and manufacture anything from small parts like miniature connectors to large machine tools like drilling presses. You take a product from start to finish and design it with aesthetics, functionality and durability in mind. Examples of products that mechanical engineers can design and develop include: gears, engine parts, aircraft engines, control systems, prostheses, disk drives, printers, semiconductor tools, sensors, gas turbines, wind turbines, fuel cells, compressors, robots, and machine tools.
Mechanical engineering - diversity in practice
Mechanical engineering is one of the oldest and most diverse engineering disciplines. It is the branch of engineering that deals with the design, manufacture, and operation of machines by applying physical, engineering, mathematical, and materials science principles.
Mechanical engineering is seen in areas such as composites, mechatronics, and nanotechnology, and often overlaps to varying degrees with manufacturing engineering, metallurgy, civil engineering, aerospace engineering, electrical engineering, chemical engineering, industrial engineering, and other engineering disciplines.
To design and manufacture mechanical systems, mechanical engineers must have a deep understanding of mechanics, dynamics, thermodynamics, electricity, and structural analysis. They must also be able to use computers, CAD (Computer Aided Design), and CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) to create and analyze their designs and monitor the quality of the products.
Mechanical engineers typically do the following:
- They analyze problems to find out how a mechanical device can help solve the problem.
- Design or redesign mechanical equipment and make blueprints so that the equipment can be built
- Develop a prototype of the device and test the prototype
- Analyze the test results and modify the design as needed
- Monitor the manufacturing process
Mechanical engineers use many types of tools, motors, and machines such as
- Machine tools and tools for other engineers
- Machines that consume electricity, such as refrigeration and air conditioning systems
- Other machines inside buildings, such as elevators and escalators
- Electric generators, internal combustion engines, steam and gas turbines
- Industrial production equipment, including robots used in manufacturing
- Material handling systems such as conveyor systems and automated transfer stations
Types of mechanical engineers
The following are examples of different types of mechanical engineers:
Automotive research engineers
Automotive research engineers seek to improve the performance of cars by working on improving traditional car properties such as the suspension, and working on aerodynamics and new possible fuels. Automotive research engineers focus on the development of passenger cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, or all-terrain vehicles. They design new products, modify existing products, search for errors and solve technical problems.
Engineers for heating and cooling systems
Thermal engineering, also known as heat transfer or thermal sciences, is an academic specialty in mechanical engineering. Heating and cooling system engineers develop environmental systems (systems that keep temperature and humidity within certain limits) for airplanes, trains, automobiles, computer rooms, and schools. They design test control devices and equipment and develop procedures for testing products. They also calculate energy losses for buildings using equipment such as computers, combustion analyzers or pressure gauges.
A robotics engineer is a behind-the-scenes designer responsible for developing robots and robotic systems capable of performing tasks that humans either cannot or would rather not do.
Robotic engineers spend most of their time designing the blueprints needed to build robots and also designing the processes necessary for the robot to operate correctly. Through their creations, a robotics engineer helps make workplaces safer, simpler and more efficient, especially in the manufacturing industry.
Materials engineers try to solve problems in various engineering fields such as mechanics, chemistry, electrical engineering, construction, nuclear engineering, and aerospace. They do this by developing, processing, and testing materials to create new materials that meet specific mechanical, electrical, and chemical requirements.
Depending on the location, materials engineers examine the chemical properties, structures and mechanical applications of plastics, metals, nanomaterials (extremely small substances), ceramics and composite materials.
What does the workplace of a mechanical engineer look like?
Mechanical engineers are the second largest engineering profession. They work primarily in engineering services, research and development, manufacturing, and federal government. The rest is employed in general mechanical engineering, in the manufacture of automotive parts, in the management of other companies and in test laboratories.
Mechanical engineers generally work in professional office environments. Occasionally they visit workplaces where a problem or piece of equipment requires their personal attention. Most mechanical engineers work full-time, with some working up to 60 hours or more per week.
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