Mechanical engineering is the discipline that applies the principles of engineering, physics, and materials science for the design, analysis, manufacturing, and maintenance of mechanical systems. It is the branch of engineering that involves the design, production, and operation of machinery.
It is a diverse subject that derives its breadth from the need to design and manufacture everything from small individual parts and devices (e.g., microscale sensors and inkjet printer nozzles) to large systems (e.g., spacecraft and machine tools). The role of a mechanical engineer is to take a product from an idea to the marketplace. In order to accomplish this, a broad range of skills are needed.
Mechanical engineers use these core principles along with tools like 2D & 3D solid modelling computer-aided design (CAD), computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) and product lifecycle management (PLM) to design and analyse manufacturing plants, industrial equipment and machinery, heating and cooling systems, transport systems, aircraft, watercraft, robotics, medical devices, weapons, and many others.
In addition to the core mechanical engineering curriculum, many mechanical engineering programs offer more specialized programs and classes, such as control systems, vibration, optics, robotics, transport & logistics, cryogenics, fuel technology, automotive engineering, biomechanics, vibration, optics and others.
Analysis tools such as finite element analysis (FEA) and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) may also be used to predict product response to expected loads, including fatigue life and manufacturability. The one skill that is the mechanical engineer’s exclusive domain is the ability to analyze and design objects and systems with motion.
Mechanical engineers today are pursuing developments in such fields as composites, mechatronics, and nanotechnology. Mechanical engineering overlaps with aerospace engineering, metallurgical engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering, manufacturing engineering, chemical engineering, industrial engineering, and other engineering disciplines to varying amounts. Mechanical engineers may also work in the field of biomedical engineering, specifically with biomechanics, transport phenomena, bio mechatronics, bio nanotechnology, and modelling of biological systems.
Mechanical engineers play a central role in such industries as automotive (from the car chassis to its every subsystem—engine, transmission, sensors); aerospace (airplanes, aircraft engines, control systems for airplanes and spacecraft); biotechnology (implants, prosthetic devices, fluidic systems for pharmaceutical industries); computers and electronics (disk drives, printers, cooling systems, semiconductor tools); microelectromechanical systems, or MEMS (sensors, actuators, micropower generation); energy conversion (gas turbines, wind turbines, solar energy, fuel cells); environmental control (HVAC, air-conditioning, refrigeration, compressors); automation (robots, data and image acquisition, recognition, control); manufacturing (machining, machine tools, prototyping, microfabrication).
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