What is mechanical engineering?
Mechanical engineering is concerned with the application of the fundamental principles and laws of nature to the development and betterment of a technological society and culture. Virtually anything that moves, whether animate or inanimate, falls within the scope of mechanical engineering.
Of all the engineering disciplines, mechanical engineering is the broadest and most diversified. In all technical areas and types of industries, mechanical engineers are involved in virtually every phase of design, synthesis, development, and refinement of machines, processes, and systems. Mechanical engineers are required to understand the laws of mechanics and thermodynamics, the effects of forces on solids and liquids, the flow of heat through substances, the properties of engineering materials, and the design of mechanisms to accomplish useful tasks. Mechanical engineers play a leading role in the advancement of technology for sustainable development.
What does a mechanical engineer do?
Mechanical engineers are expected to face many technical and managerial challenges, such as
- Supervision of machine and/or plant operation;
- Prototype design, testing and scale-up;
- Theoretical analysis and model simulations;
- Technical and economic feasibility analysis;
- Management of personnel and technology;
- Failure analysis and cause determination;
- Technical marketing and maintenance.
Areas of focus in mechanical engineering
Fluid Mechanics/Environmental Fluid Mechanics
The courses in this area of specialization deal with a broad range of applications of the principles of thermodynamics and fluid mechanics, with emphasis on topics of industrial significance for example, aerodynamics, internal flows with heat and mass transfer, turbomachinery, and flows in the natural environment such as plumes in air and effluents in water. Many courses in fluid mechanics and thermal engineering are closely linked.
Machine Design and Solid Mechanics
The courses offered in this area of specialization range from those which provide the mathematical and physical basis of the subject matter through to those which are largely applied in nature. Subjects treated are: mechanics (including vibrations); theories of elasticity, plasticity and fracture; machine design and design optimization.
Materials Engineering and Processing
This area of specialization consists of a comprehensive series of courses in metallurgy, including heat treatment, casting, welding, cold and hot forming. Nonmetallic materials, including plastics and ceramics, and composites such as fiberglass and sandwich structures are also considered
Automation and Control
The courses in this area of specialization are designed to provide the student with an understanding of the principles and control of production processes, the application of computers to the manufacturing activity and the organization of production. Topics treated are: automation, metal forming, numerical control of machine tools, applications of fluid power and industrial noise control. These topics are also a prominent part of the mechanical portion of the Mechatronics Option.
The courses in this area of specialization develop and apply the principles of thermodynamics, heat transfer (conduction, convection, radiation), and fluid mechanics to such topics as combustion; heating, ventilation, and air conditioning of buildings; and energy conversion. Many courses in fluid mechanics and thermal engineering are closely linked.