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Mechanical engineers make things move

Robert Hayes Modified: July 10, 2013 at 10:55 am •  Published: June 1, 2013

If you think engines are cool or that motors are interesting, you may want to consider studying mechanical engineering.  Mechanical engineering is the discipline which designs moving things such as cars, pumps, pulleys and turbines.  There is a lot that one has to know in order to be a mechanical engineer, a whole lot.  A typical bachelors degree program  would start with a initial full year of calculus, physics and chemistry (plus electives and/or distribution courses).  The second year would be full of advanced calculus, engineering physics and maybe a semester or two of material science, statics and dynamics (in addition to various electives and/or distribution courses).  By the time the 3rd year rolls around and the student is a junior in college and they will finally get to study the mechanics of vibration, basic thermodynamics, introductory fluid mechanics and basic combustion theory or even basic electronic circuitry.  When students are in their last year as a senior in college, they may have a semester or more of heat transfer, strength of materials, mass transfer and finally their senior design project.  These are only a sample of different acceptable coursework combinations depending on the college, its prerequisites and specific student preferences or life issues.  In all cases, mechanical engineering is a very involved discipline requiring substantial knowledge to adequately design things like motors, rotors, stators, gear boxes, torque converters, and pretty much anything that moves.  Hopefully it goes without saying how important it is for us and our way of life to have mechanical devices with moving parts such as central air conditioning, vacuums and ice makers (all of which require mechanical engineering design work).

The basic mechanics of an internal combustion engine in our cars is really almost as important to us as are the fundamentals of the dynamo’s which produce electricity at the local power plants.  Having reliable transportation and reliable electricity is effectively critical to almost everything we take for granted in modern society.  The moving of food and manufactured items to our stores and homes requires diesel engines whether in tractor trailers or ocean going vessels.  Whether in planes, trains or automobiles, all of which require quality mechanical engineering design.  The entire production process of almost anything bought in almost any store required some sort of factory, having perhaps assembly lines, robots, gear boxes and certainly motors, probably stators and rotors as well (designed by mechanical engineers).  The extent of mechanical engineering in our daily lives is somewhat staggering such that it has actually become incredibly easy to take for granted.  That all these things we have come to see as normal in society today were intentionally designed to provide sustenance, safety, ease of operation and overall quality of life speaks to the importance of this discipline. Mechanical engineering is truly essential to our standard of living.

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