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Mechanical Engineering Overview The Field - Preparation - Day in the Life - Earnings - Employment - Development - Career Path Forecast - Professional Organizations The Field Mechanical engineering is one of the largest, broadest, and oldest engineering disciplines. Mechanical engineers use the principles of energy, materials, and mechanics to design and manufacture machines and devices of all types. They create the processes and systems that drive technology and industry. The key characteristics of the profession are its breadth, flexibility, and individuality. The career paths of mechanical engineers are largely determined by individual choices, a decided advantage in a changing world. Mechanics, energy and heat, mathematics, engineering sciences, design and manufacturing form the foundation of mechanical engineering. Mechanics includes fluids, ranging from still water to hypersonic gases flowing around a space vehicle; it involves the motion of anything from a particle to a machine or complex structure. Mechanical engineers research, design, develop, manufacture, and test tools, engines, machines, and other mechanical devices. Mechanical engineering is one of the broadest engineering disciplines. Engineers in this discipline work on power-producing machines such as electric generators, internal combustion engines, and steam and gas turbines. They also work on power-using machines such as refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment, machine tools, material handling systems, elevators and escalators, industrial production equipment, and robots used in manufacturing. Mechanical engineers also design tools that other engineers need for their work. In addition, mechanical engineers work in manufacturing or agriculture production, maintenance, or technical sales; many become administrators or managers. Analysis, design, and synthesis are the key functions of mechanical engineers. The question is often how devices and processes actually work. The first step is to visualize what is happening and clearly state the problem. A mechanical engineer will then use computer-based modeling, simulation, and visualization techniques to test different solutions. "Mechanical Engineering Overview" Prepared as part of the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center (www.careercornerstone.org) Design is one of the most satisfying jobs for a mechanical engineer. To design and build a new car, you must reckon with power, weight, size and shape, materials, reliability, and safety. "Synthesis" is when you pull all the factors together in a design that can be successfully manufactured. Design problems are challenging because most are open-ended, without a single or best answer. There is no best mousetrap -- just better ones. The field is notable for emphasizing versatility. A mechanical engineering education is an excellent foundation for work in other fields. Some mechanical engineers work on medical problems, such as the mechanics of bones and joints, or the fluid dynamics of the circulatory system. Mechanical engineers deal with economic issues, from the cost of a single component, to the economic impact of a manufacturing plant. M.E.'s can be found in sales, engineering management, and corporate management. Versatility is a decided asset in a world that is undergoing constant economic, political, industrial, and social change. Mechanical engineers are educated and positioned, not only to adapt, but to define and direct change. The diversity of the field of mechanical engineering is represented in the following areas of involvement. Basic Engineering Fundamentally, mechanical engineers are involved with the mechanics of motion and the transfer of energy from one form to another or one place to another. ME's design and build machines for industrial and consumer use -- virtually any machine you find, had a mechanical engineer involved with its development and production. They design heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems to control the climate in homes, offices, and industrial plants, and develop refrigeration systems for the food industry. ME's also design heat exchangers, key components in high-tech mechanical and electronic computer equipment. Applied Mechanics: Mechanics can be applied to almost anything -- metal bars, rocks, water, the human skeleton, or complex systems such as buildings, automobiles, and machines. The basic question is how things work and whether they work well. To find the answers, a mechanical engineer uses a knowledge of shock and vibration, dynamics and motion, fracture and failure in components, and the behavior of high-tech materials. New computer applications make it possible to model and visualize all of these processes. Fluids Engineering: There's a mechanical process involved in anything that flows -- air, water, heat and cold, even the sand along our shores. Whatever the substance may be, M.E.'s know how to describe and control its movement. M.E.'s design fluid machines and systems -- pumps, turbines, compressors, valves, pipelines, biological devices, hydraulic systems, and the fluid systems in car engines. The fluids engineer can be found in industries ranging from aerospace to food, manufacturing, medicine, power, and transportation. "Mechanical Engineering Overview" Prepared as part of the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center (www.careercornerstone.org) Heat Transfer: Heat is generated and moved by any use of energy, in everything from computers to automobiles and ventilating systems in buildings. This is an issue in all modern technology, given today's emphasis on conservation and wise use of resources. This field touches on combustion, power generation and transmission systems, process equipment, electronic devices, thermal controls in manufacturing, environmental controls, biotechnology, aerospace applications, transportation equipment, and even cryogenics (for those who like to freeze things). Bioengineering: Mechanical engineering principles are used to design and perfect biomechanical devices or systems. Almost any part of the human organism can be described mechanically, whether it's a knee joint or the circulatory system. This field involves artificial organs, biomechanics, biomaterials, bio-instrumentation, biotransport processes, human factors, medical devices, biomedical modeling, and biological systems. Bioprocess Engineering focuses on the processes, systems, and equipment used in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries -- everything from cell cultures, to bioprocessing, to unit operations. M.E.'s in this field work closely with biologists, chemists, and chemical engineers. Tribology: Tribology may not be a familiar term, but if you are designing an artificial hip socket, a laser printer, or a locomotive, you will have to think about friction, heat, wear, bearings, and lubrication. Otherwise your product probably won't run well or for very long. By reducing wear, the tribologist prevents the failure of everything from computer disk drives to the seals used in space vehicles. Energy Conversion We live in a world of dependent on the production and conversion of energy into useful forms. Mechanical engineers are involved in all aspects of the production and conversion of energy from one form to another. We design and operate fossil fuel, hydroelectric, conventional, nuclear and cogeneration power plants. We design and develop internal combustion engines for automobiles, trucks and marine use and also for electrical power generation. Internal Combustion Engines: Mechanical engineers design and manufacture IC engines for mobile, marine, rail, and stationary applications. Engine design requires a broad knowledge base, including mechanics, electronics, materials, and thermal sciences. Problems must be solved in fuels and combustion, intake systems, ignition, instrumentation and controls, lubrication, materials, and maintenance. Fuels & Combustion Technologies: Mechanical Engineers may specialize in the understanding of fuels and combustion systems in modern utility and industrial power plants or in internal combustion, gas turbine or other engines. These ME's work with combustion systems, fuel properties and characteristics, fuel processing and alternative fuels, and fuel handling transportation and storage. Nuclear Engineering: M.E.'s in Nuclear Engineering use their knowledge of mechanics, heat, fluids, machinery and controls. They develop advanced reactors and components, heat exchangers, pressure vessels and piping, radwaste systems, and new fuel technologies. Power Engineering: Power Engineering focuses on electricity, produced by steam and water-driven turbines. Power M.E.'s design and develop these systems, as well as industrial and marine power plants, combustion equipment, and the equipment that goes into power plants -- condensers, cooling towers, pumps, piping, heat exchangers, and the controls to make it all work. "Mechanical Engineering Overview" Prepared as part of the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center (www.careercornerstone.org) Energy Resources Mechanical engineers are experts on the conversion and use of existing energy sources and in developing the equipment needed to process and transport fuels. At the same time, mechanical engineers are active in finding and developing new forms of energy. In that effort, ME's deal with the production of energy from alternate sources, such as solar, geothermal, and wind. Advanced Energy Systems: Most energy has come from the conversion of chemical or thermal energy into electrical and mechanical energy. M.E.'s are developing alternatives to thermal energy, power cycle devices, fuel cells, gas turbines, and innovative uses of coal, wind, and tidal flows. Solar Engineering: M.E.'s in Solar Energy are finding new ways to produce mechanical and electrical power for heating, refrigeration, and water purification. They design devices and structures to collect solar energy, and they work with architects to design buildings that use solar energy for heating, cooling, and lighting. Petroleum: Mechanical engineers play important roles in the petroleum industry, working in oil and gas drilling and production, offshore and arctic operations, hydrocarbon processing, synfuels and coal technology, materials, equipment design and manufacture, fuel transport, new fuel technologies, and pollution control. Ocean, Offshore & Arctic Engineering: Much of our energy already comes from offshore sources. M.E.'s design and build ocean structures, systems, and equipment -- hyperbaric chambers, life support equipment, marine vehicles, submersibles and ROV's, propulsion systems, remote sensing systems, moorings and buoys, ship structures, and ocean mining equipment. Any given project may call for expertise in acoustics, construction and salvage technologies, corrosion, and high-tech materials. Offshore Mechanics differs from Ocean Engineering in that it focuses more on the science of mechanics. An M.E. specialist in this field deals with hydrodynamics, structural mechanics, computational methods, offshore materials science, materials fatigue and fracture, hydrodynamic forces and motion, fluid- solid-soil interactions, deepwater platforms, cable and pipeline dynamics, sensors and measurements, robots and remote control, and the mechanics of offshore drilling operations. The arctic engineer deals with a unique set of problems, such as ice mechanics, pipeline operations, and the behavior of materials in cold climates. Environment & Transportation Transportation is a large and growing field for mechanical engineers. Existing modes of air and surface transport require continuous improvement or replacement. ME's work at the cutting edge of these efforts. Wherever machines are made or used, you will find mechanical engineers. They are instrumental in the design, development and manufacturing of machines that transmit power. They are also critically involved with the environmental impact and fuel efficiency of the machines they develop and with any by-products of the fuels used to power those machines. Aerospace & Automotive: They used to be called "flying machines." Very true. Aircraft are, in fact, flying "machines." One of the major activities of mechanical engineers is in the design, development and manufacture of things that move on land, sea, air and in space. M.E.'s design propulsion engines and structural component systems, crew and passenger accommodations and life support systems. M.E.'s also develop the equipment used to build automotive, aircraft, marine and space vehicles. "Mechanical Engineering Overview" Prepared as part of the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center (www.careercornerstone.org) Environmental Engineering: Most environmental conditions involve a mechanical process -- the movement of heat, noise, or pollutants in air, soil, or water. M.E.'s deal with questions about environmental impact and recyclability in the design of products and systems. They use modeling techniques to understand air, ground, and water pollution and to develop effective controls. For example, M.E.'s analyzed and modeled the mechanical relationship between power plant emissions and acid rain in the northeastern states. Noise Control & Acoustics: Sound is a mechanical phenomenon -- the movement of waves or vibrations through solids, liquids, or space. Acoustics is the art and science of producing, analyzing, and controlling sound. A mechanical engineering background can help to solve problems in noise control, flow-related noise and vibration, industrial acoustics, instrumentation, acoustical materials, and structures. Rail Transportation: All aspects of mechanical engineering can be applied to the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of rail and mass-transit systems. Technologies developed in aerospace and energy conversion are being applied to a new generation of locomotives and cars for freight, passenger, and transit services. Solid Waste Processing: Solid waste processing is a key aspect of environmental protection and energy conservation. M.E.'s are involved in the design and construction of solid waste processing facilities, and in work related to recycling, resource recovery, and the new technologies for waste-to-energy and biomass conversion. Engineering & Technology Management Working in project teams is a way of life for mechanical engineers. Deciding which projects to undertake and leading those projects to a successful conclusion is the job of experienced engineers who move into management. On the safety front, all projects involve safety issues. By its very nature mechanical engineering involves the harnessing and channeling of the forces of nature, forces which are often extremely powerful. Consider the contained "explosion" that inflates an automobile air bag or the mechanical forces involved in bringing an airplane load of people to a safe and comfortable landing, or the safety and reliability of an elevator, a power plant, or an incubator for pre-maturely born infants. Management: Mechanical engineering careers often lead to project, division, or corporate management, on a domestic or international scale. M.E. managers deal with a variety of issues -- quality control, safety, teamwork and productivity, communications, finance, professional development and training, product and market analysis, sales and service, and computer systems. Manufacturing In contemporary manufacturing companies, mechanical engineers play a key role in the "realization" of products, working closely with other engineers and specialists in corporate management, finance, marketing, and packaging. ME's design products, select materials and processes, and convert them to finished products. They design and manufacture machine tools -- literally the machines that make machines and design entire manufacturing processes, aided by the latest technologies in automation and robotics. Finally, the finished products are transported in equipment designed by mechanical engineers. This is the largest area of employment for mechanical engineers, especially when the process and textile industries are included. A finished product requires the right materials, a viable plant and equipment, and a manufacturing system. This all comes within the purview of mechanical, manufacturing and industrial engineers. "Mechanical Engineering Overview" Prepared as part of the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center (www.careercornerstone.org) Manufacturing Engineering: About half of all M.E.'s work in companies that manufacture "something," such as consumer goods, transportation, or industrial equipment. Another 16% work in the process industries, like petrochemical or pharmaceutical. The challenges are as diverse as the products -- from miniature devices used by surgeons, to disk drives, or massive pieces of industrial equipment. This work calls for a knowledge of materials, manufacturing processes, thermal processes, controls, electronics, and, as in all of engineering --- teamwork skills. Materials Handling Engineering: Materials must be delivered at the right time, place, and in the right form -- a challenge with the costly, exotic, and sometimes hazardous materials used in some industries. Some M.E.'s specialized in materials transportation, handling equipment and procedures, hazard control technologies, and in the training of employees who will work with these materials. Plant Engineering & Maintenance: Competitive industries must often update their plants, manufacturing equipment, and operating procedures. This must be done quickly and with the least possible disruption. M.E.'s in plant engineering focus on systems, equipment, processes, and facilities. They provide creative solutions that allow companies to meet their goals for quality, safety, and cost. Process Industries: The M.E. ‘process engineer' changes materials from one form to another or gives them new properties. They can then be used in manufacturing components and finished products. The M.E. `process engineer' designs and builds the systems and machines that heat, cool, soften, harden, or liquefy substances -- anything from industrial fluids and gases, to metals, or even food products and pharmaceuticals. Textile Engineering: Textile manufacturing is a global industry that depends on automated equipment to prepare and handle fibers, weave or knit fabrics, manufacture finished apparel, and handle finished products. Multinational textile industries turn to M.E.'s for expertise in plant design and construction, equipment installation, programming and control techniques, operations, and maintenance. Materials & Structures In order to arrive at the best design for a product, mechanical engineers use a wide variety of metal, plastic, ceramic materials. They also use composites made up of more than one type of material. Once designed, built and in service, elements like pipeline welds and sections, gears and other drive-train elements may need inspection for structural integrity or the effects of mechanical wear. Non-Destructive Evaluation, as its name implies, allows ME's to use X-ray, magnetic particle, ultrasound and other techniques to examine the internal condition of structural and machine parts, without causing them to fail or without removing them from service. This analysis is particularly important in assuring the reliability and safety of pressure vessels and piping systems. Materials Engineering: Materials has grown into a distinct and important technology. Mechanical engineers focus on the behavior and selection of materials -- preferably before they become part of machines or complex structures. The Materials M.E. focuses on the properties of materials and their effect on design, fabrication, quality, and performance. M.E.'s find ways to give materials specific properties -- strength, ductility, and resistance to fracture, fatigue, and corrosion. The goal is to have materials that can be casted, forged, stamped, rolled, machined, or welded. Mechanical engineers are interested in many aspects of plant engineering, including the pressure vessels and piping that are an essential part of many industrial plants and processes. "Mechanical Engineering Overview" Prepared as part of the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center (www.careercornerstone.org) Non-Destructive Evaluation: The manager of a large petrochemical plant needs to know whether a massive pressure vessel and two pumps are maintaining their structural integrity. There's a 50-50 chance that it won't be possible to reassemble the equipment once it's taken apart, and replacement will force a month-long shutdown. It's time to call in a mechanical engineer who specializes in Non-Destructive Evaluation -- materials testing, non-destructive testing, pressure vessel research, welding technologies, equipment design, and repair strategies. Pressure Vessels & Piping: Many industries depend on pressure vessels and piping to perform critical functions. These vessels must be durable and safe when subjected to high-temperatures, pressure, corrosion, or undersea conditions. Mechanical engineers develop materials that will resist fatigue and fracture, plan the fabrication of equipment, perform inspections and tests, and design components using computer visualization and modeling techniques. Systems & Design Most mechanical engineers work in the design and control of mechanical, electromechanical and fluid power systems. As a mechanical engineer functioning as a design engineer it is likely that you would be involved with one or more technical specialties, for example: Robotic System Design; Computer Coordinated Mechanisms; Expert Systems in Design; Computer- Aided Engineering; Geometric Design; Design Optimization; Kinematics and Dynamics of Mechanisms; Cam Design/Gear Design; Power Transmission; or Design of Machine Elements. Design engineers take into account a truly wide number of factors in the course of their work, such as: product performance, cost, safety, manufacturability, serviceability, human factors, aesthetic appearance, durability, reliability, environmental impact and recycleability. Dynamic Systems & Control: Where there is movement there must be control. A modern production line is a dynamic system, because its movement and speed can be controlled. M.E.'s create the software, hardware, and feedback devices that form control and robotic systems. This requires a knowledge of heat and mass transfer, fluid and solid mechanics, the plants or processes to be controlled, elements of electronics and computers. Controls are needed everywhere -- in aerospace and transportation, biomedical equipment, production machinery, energy and fluid power systems, expert systems, and environmental systems. Fluid Power Systems & Technology: You have been asked to design a massive vehicle to transport rocket boosters around the Kennedy Space Center. A conventional transmission won't work because of the weight and sheer inertia that the vehicle must overcome. You need to apply a lot of power very gradually, so you employ a fluid power coupling. These technologies are used in automotive, aerospace, manufacturing, and power industries, in situations that call for a flexible and precise application of power in large amounts. Design Engineering: M.E.'s design components, entire machines, complex structures, systems and processes. This work requires a knowledge of the basic sciences, engineering principles, materials, computer techniques, manufacturing methods, and even economics. New and challenging problems come along with regularity. If you are working for an aircraft company, today's problem may be vibration in an engine; tomorrow it may be wind noise, stress on the landing gear, or a need to increase lift at low speeds. "Mechanical Engineering Overview" Prepared as part of the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center (www.careercornerstone.org) Computers in Engineering: Mechanical engineers have developed a wealth of computer applications software, based on their knowledge of mechanics, fluids, heat, kinetics, and manufacturing. Some of the interests in this area include computer-aided design and simulation; computer-aided manufacturing; finite element analysis; visualization techniques; robots and controls; computer vision and pattern recognition; systems (hardware, software, and networks); and management information systems. M.E.'s in the Electrical & Computer Industries: There are mechanical components in electrical, electronic, and computer equipment, all of which is manufactured through automated and mechanical processes, all components must fit precisely, and unwanted heat must be transferred elsewhere. All of these activities are in the domain of mechanical engineering. The PC is very largely a mechanical device. Consider disk drives, circuit boards, keyboards, the chasis structure, and, of course, the mouse! Electrical & Electronic Packaging: A large number of mechanical engineers work for the manufacturers of electrical, electronic, and computer equipment. The major focus for M.E.'s in this area is the physical design and manufacture of these products in such a way that unwanted heat is removed and desired heat is retained where and to the degree it is needed. Information Storage & Processing Systems: Quite a few mechanical engineers work for companies that manufacture computer peripherals. Any storage device on your computer -- the CD, DVD, diskette, or hard drives -- has electrical, electronic, and mechanical components. M.E.'s help to design and manufacture these precision devices. Their interests touch on hard disk technologies, data storage and equipment, wear and lubrication in data storage devices, micro-sensors, and controls. Microelectromechanical Systems: Micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) combines computers with tiny mechanical devices such as sensors, valves, gears, and actuators embedded in semiconductor chips. A MEMS device contains micro-circuitry on a silicon chip into which a mechanical device such as a mirror or a sensor has been constructed. Among the presently available uses of MEMS or those under study are: 1) Sensors built into the fabric of an airplane wing so that it can sense and react to air flow by changing the wing surface resistance; effectively creating a myriad of tiny wing flaps, 2) Sensor-driven heating and cooling systems that dramatically improve energy savings, and 3) Building supports with imbedded sensors that can alter the flexibility properties of a material based on atmospheric stress sensing. Preparation If you are curious about how things work or how things are made; marvel at seeing ideas transformed into physical reality, find yourself stimulated by the process of trying to improve the way something works; have enjoyed being a part of a team that work together to accomplish something; or if you are stimulated by your math, science and technology studies, even though, and perhaps because, they can be challenging -- you have already started down the road toward becoming a mechanical engineer. Some people choose mechanical engineering because they see it as the best way to put to use their interests in math, physics, and technology. "Mechanical Engineering Overview" Prepared as part of the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center (www.careercornerstone.org) For many, however, it all begins with a fascination for things that move -- cars, trains, planes, spacecraft, amusement park rides. And for others, family or friends in the mechanical engineering profession provide the initial encouragement. Virtually anything that can be imagined, designed, and built has a mechanical engineering aspect to it. A bachelor's degree in engineering is required for almost all entry-level engineering jobs. College graduates with a degree in a physical science or mathematics occasionally may qualify for some engineering jobs, especially in specialties in high demand. Studying M.E. Mechanical Engineering programs provide more than technical training: they teach the more sophisticated skills of analysis and problem-solving that apply to most any type of engineering, manufacturing, business ventures, management, or even legal practice. They teach you how to learn, thought processes and approaches that will serve you throughout your life and career. From the very beginning, but especially in your third and fourth years, you will be involved in projects that will give you experience in the thinking and problem-solving processes that are the essence of what it means to be an engineer. Maximize the Experience Work experience is one of the best ways to enhance your education and employment prospects, perhaps through a co- op program, internship, or summer job. Many co-op students and interns are hired after graduation by the same employers, and best of all, they start with a clearer sense of their interests, capabilities, and career paths to follow within a company or industry. Employers prefer people whose practical and teamwork experiences make them "ready to produce." Apart from work experience, students should consider an elective course in public speaking, or get into student organizations such as an ASME Student Section on campus, where they can practice their presentation and "people" skills. Engineers are expected to present ideas and plans to other engineers, management, bankers, production personnel, and customers. Even great ideas are worthless if they cannot be communicated. Accredited Programs Those interested in a career in mechanical engineering should consider reviewing engineering programs that are accredited by ABET, Inc. ABET accreditation is based on an evaluation of an engineering program's student achievement, program improvement, faculty, curricular content, facilities, and institutional commitment. The following is a current list of all universities offering accredited degree programs in mechanical engineering. • The University of Akron • Naval Postgraduate School • Alabama A&M University • University of Nebraska-Lincoln • University of Alabama at Birmingham • University of Nevada-Las Vegas • The University of Alabama in Huntsville • University of Nevada-Reno • The University of Alabama • University of New Hampshire • University of Alaska Fairbanks • University of New Haven • Alfred University • New Jersey Institute of Technology • Arizona State University • College of New Jersey "Mechanical Engineering Overview" Prepared as part of the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center (www.careercornerstone.org) • University of Arizona • New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology • Arkansas Tech University • New Mexico State University • University of Arkansas • University of New Mexico • Auburn University • University of New Orleans • Baker College • State University of New York at Binghamton • Baylor University • State University of New York at Buffalo • Boise State University • New York Institute of Technology • Boston University • City University of New York, City College • Bradley University • North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State • Brigham Young University University • Brigham Young University - Idaho • University of North Carolina at Charlotte • Brown University • North Carolina State University at Raleigh • Bucknell University • North Dakota State University • California Institute of Technology • University of North Dakota • California Maritime Academy • University of North Florida • California Polytechnic State University, San • Northeastern University Luis Obispo • Northern Arizona University • California State Polytechnic University, • Northern Illinois University Pomona • Northwestern University • California State University, Chico • Norwich University • California State University, Fresno • University of Notre Dame • California State University, Fullerton • Oakland University • California State University, Long Beach • Ohio Northern University • California State University, Los Angeles • The Ohio State University • California State University, Northridge • Ohio University • California State University, Sacramento • Oklahoma Christian University • University of California, Berkeley • Oklahoma State University • University of California, Davis • The University of Oklahoma • University of California, Irvine • Old Dominion University • University of California, Los Angeles • Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering • University of California, Riverside • Oregon State University • University of California, San Diego • University of the Pacific • University of California, Santa Barbara • Pennsylvania State University • Carnegie Mellon University • Pennsylvania State University, Behrend College • Case Western Reserve University • University of Pennsylvania • The Catholic University of America • University of Pittsburgh • Cedarville University • Polytechnic University • University of Central Florida • Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico • Christian Brothers University • Portland State University • University of Cincinnati • University of Portland • Clarkson University • Prairie View A & M University • Clemson University • Princeton University • Cleveland State University • University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus • University of Colorado at Boulder • Purdue University at West Lafayette • University of Colorado at Colorado Springs • Purdue University Calumet • University of Colorado at Denver and • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Health Sciences Center • University of Rhode Island • Colorado State University • Rice University • Columbia University • Rochester Institute of Technology • University of Connecticut • University of Rochester • The Cooper Union • Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology • Cornell University • Rowan University • University of Dayton • Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey • University of Delaware • Saginaw Valley State University • University of Denver • Saint Louis University • University of Detroit Mercy • Saint Martin's University • University of the District of Columbia-Van "Mechanical Engineering Overview" Prepared as part of the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center (www.careercornerstone.org) Ness Campus • San Diego State University • Drexel University • San Francisco State University • Duke University • San Jose State University • University of Evansville • Santa Clara University • Fairfield University-School of Engineering • Seattle University • Florida A & M University/Florida State • University of South Alabama University (FAMU-FSU) • University of South Carolina • Florida Atlantic University • South Dakota School of Mines and Technology • Florida Institute of Technology • South Dakota State University • Florida International University (University • University of South Florida Park) • University of Florida • University of Southern California • Southern Illinois University at Carbondale • Gannon University • Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville • The George Washington University • Southern Methodist University • Georgia Institute of Technology • Gonzaga University • Southern University and Agricultural & Mechanical College • Grand Valley State University • St. Cloud State University • Grove City College • University of St. Thomas • University of Hartford • Stanford University • University of Hawaii at Manoa • Stevens Institute of Technology • Henry Cogswell College • Stony Brook University • Hofstra University • Syracuse University • University of Houston • Temple University • Howard University • University of Tennessee at Chattanooga • Idaho State University • University of Tennessee at Knoxville • University of Idaho • Tennessee State University • University of Illinois at Chicago • Tennessee Technological University • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign • Texas A & M University • Illinois Institute of Technology • Texas A & M University - Kingsville • Indiana Institute of Technology • University of Texas at Arlington • Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne • University of Texas at Austin • University of Texas at El Paso • Indiana University-Purdue University • The University of Texas at San Antonio Indianapolis • University of Texas at Tyler • Iowa State University • University of Iowa • Texas Tech University • The Johns Hopkins University • The University of Texas-Pan American • The University of Toledo • Kansas State University • Tri-State University • The University of Kansas • University of Kentucky (Extended Campus- • Tufts University Paducah) • Tulane University • The University of Tulsa • University of Kentucky • Turabo University • Kettering University • Lafayette College • Tuskegee University • Lake Superior State University • Union College • United States Air Force Academy • Lamar University • United States Coast Guard Academy • Lawrence Technological University • Lehigh University • United States Military Academy • University of Louisiana at Lafayette • United States Naval Academy • Utah State University • Louisiana State University and A&M • University of Utah College • Louisiana Tech University • Valparaiso University • University of Louisville • Vanderbilt University • Loyola Marymount University • University of Vermont • Villanova University • University of Maine • Manhattan College • Virginia Commonwealth University • Marquette University • Virginia Military Institute "Mechanical Engineering Overview" Prepared as part of the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center (www.careercornerstone.org) • University of Maryland Baltimore County • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University • University of Maryland College Park • University of Virginia • University of Massachusetts Amherst • Washington State University • University of Massachusetts Dartmouth • Washington University • Massachusetts Institute of Technology • University of Washington • University of Massachusetts Lowell • Wayne State University • The University of Memphis • Wentworth Institute of Technology • Miami University • West Texas A&M University • University of Miami • West Virginia University • Michigan State University • West Virginia University Institute of Technology • Michigan Technological University • Western Kentucky University • University of Michigan • Western Michigan University • University of Michigan-Dearborn • Western New England College • Milwaukee School of Engineering • Wichita State University • University of Minnesota Duluth • Widener University • Minnesota State University, Mankato • Wilkes University • University of Minnesota-Twin Cities • University of Wisconsin-Madison • Mississippi State University • University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee • University of Mississippi • University of Wisconsin-Platteville • Missouri University of Science and • Worcester Polytechnic Institute Technology • Wright State University • University of Missouri-Columbia • University of Wyoming • University of Missouri-Kansas City • Yale University • University of Missouri-St. Louis • York College of Pennsylvania • Montana State University - Bozeman • Youngstown State University Day in the Life There is no typical day for most M.E.'s. Engineering projects are multi-disciplinary organizational efforts often involving scores of people inside and outside the company. Project life cycles call for different skills and people at different times. The issues and challenges start-off numerous and evolve throughout the project. It is difficult to characterize a typical day under these circumstances. Laced within and among other activities is a great deal of communication --- on the phone, via e-mail, in meetings, in memos and reports. No engineer works alone. Engineering is a team sport. Some projects will turn over in a week, some in three months or a year, and projects may run concurrently. Workload can change as a project advances or encounters obstacles. Diversity and challenge are among the things that mechanical engineers like about their work. First Job & Beyond What are you likely to be doing? In their first job, about half of today's mechanical engineers have a primary focus on some form of design engineering and three-quarters do some work in this area. Product, Systems, and Plant Equipment Design are forms of design engineering. This can be a broadening experience, for engineering designers often work in teams consisting of engineers of different disciplines who work in design, production, testing, sales and service, people with finance, legal and marketing backgrounds and project and corporate management. The solution to a problem may require learning new things in other fields, which can help to develop career options that may not be apparent when you are just starting out. Some M.E.'s are surprised by the responsibilities that go with their first job. No one expects you to know "Mechanical Engineering Overview" Prepared as part of the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center (www.careercornerstone.org) everything on Day One, but you will be expected to learn by doing the job, improving and growing as you move forward. You won't be doing this alone, for much of your work will involve interaction with managers and members of your project team. No Cookbook Solutions Your courses and projects in mechanical engineering will introduce you to the ways of engineering, but then experience intervenes. Out in the real world you will find that it's not just a matter of applying a formula or theory. Most problems simply don't have a "cookbook" solution, so you have to draw upon all of your education and experience, and you will routinely have to learn new things to solve a problem. This will be a challenge, but also is a great source of satisfaction as you move forward. Satisfactions Mechanical engineers enjoy making a contribution to improving the quality of life. Whether it's improving the performance and safety of an automobile, or the latest in medical diagnostic equipment or gas turbine engines, M.E.'s enjoy being part of the solution of an important problem. Finding satisfaction in overcoming obstacles, whether they are technical, financial, legal, or managerial is central to the engineering psyche. Many find satisfaction in the variety of jobs that they do, the opportunities for travel and meeting people, the completion of projects, and the knowledge that they've done something that not everyone can do. For some it's simply the satisfaction of seeing their designs in production, used, and enjoyed by people. Challenges Mechanical engineers thrive on solving complex problems. These are not purely technical problems -- M.E.'s deal with management requirements, unique customer needs, budgetary and legal constraints, environmental and social issues, as well as changes in technology. It is the M.E.'s training in mathematics, the sciences, engineering fundamentals, and computer applications that provides the ability to anticipate and respond to change. For the working engineer, the key is staying abreast of emerging technologies. That's where ASME's lifelong learning programs can provide the tools that you need, when you need them. Engineering Means Business Mechanical engineering and business are closely intertwined. ME's develop products and services to meet the customer needs and cost objectives identified by corporate management. ME's advise financial and marketing managers on the feasibility of new initiatives, and when all systems are "go," they design and build the production facilities. More important, but less obvious, are the thousands of Engineering Service companies, many of which are large businesses. Business and management occupations are major career options for mechanical engineers. Global Engineering In a global economy many employers compete for business overseas, have multinational operations, and work through overseas partners. Product realization is often an international team effort, in which a manufacturing company might design a product in the U.S., modify it for assembly in Europe, use overseas contractors and suppliers, or set up and run a plant in Germany. Even if you do not work overseas, it's entirely possible that you will someday be dealing with international clients. Language skills could become an item on your list of "lifelong learning" objectives. A number of U.S. engineering schools participate in exchange programs with universities in the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa and beyond. Students who participate in these programs find that language skills and international experiences distinguish them from other engineering graduates and job candidates. Later on, engineers with this background have a wider choice of assignments. "Mechanical Engineering Overview" Prepared as part of the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center (www.careercornerstone.org) Communication and Teamwork One image of mechanical engineers is that they spend most of their time doing engineering analysis. Not true. When you talk to a group of working M.E.'s, they speak of their roles as planners, decision-makers, and managers who need communication and "people" skills as much as technical knowledge or hands-on skills. One of the most important things to seek during your undergraduate years is experience in teamwork. The graduates who are in greatest demand are those who have teamwork experience, acquired through laboratory work, team projects, extracurricular activities, and jobs -- co-op, part-time, or summer. Diversity Engineering continues to diversify in terms of the gender, ethnicity, and national origins of students and graduates entering the engineering workforce. Mechanical Engineering offers excellent opportunities for women and minority students who want 21st century careers that are challenging, progressive, flexible, and well-paying. A study by the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) found that although women were awarded slightly over 16% of all engineering degrees, a greater proportion of women choose to earn graduate degrees. Women were also somewhat more likely to be working for large or very large companies. Various organizations specifically serve women and minority engineering students through programs for high school students as well as working professionals. Just as students "network" through ASME and its student sections, additional important contacts with fellow students and working engineers can be made through these organizations. Several of the major organizations are listed in the Data File. Professionalism Ethics and Professional Responsibility: Ethics are standards or rules that govern your behavior in a given situation. That doesn't mean that the rules can change with each situation -- they should stay the same. One indication of a true profession is the existence of a code of ethics and a clear sense of professional responsibility. For an engineer, an ethical "situation" could be when you have to choose between doing what is best for the customer or the public, or doing whatever is best for you -- they may not be the same. It could be a situation where you have used someone else's ideas -- have you given them credit or compensation? Or it could be a question of being qualified to do a certain kind of work. Situations often come up in the design, development, and manufacture of products. This is why questions of ethics, safety & health, and reliability are built into the design projects you will do as a mechanical engineering student. Earnings Earnings for engineers vary significantly by specialty, industry, and education. Even so, as a group, engineers earn some of the highest average starting salaries among those holding bachelor's degrees. According the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median income for mechanical engineers is $69,850. According to a 2007 salary survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, mechanical engineering graduates saw one of the higher- end increases of the engineering disciplines. Their average salary offer rose "Mechanical Engineering Overview" Prepared as part of the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center (www.careercornerstone.org) 5.7 percent to $54,695, pushed along by a good number of offers from aerospace manufacturers who extended an average offer of $56,382 to mechanical engineering grads. In addition, an ASME Career Path Survey indicates that: • Experience counts: Without adjusting for inflation, mechanical engineers with 10 years of experience reported a 106% salary gain, while those with 15 years of experience reported a 249% difference between their starting and current salary. • Education counts: In the early years of your career, a Master's degree is a decided plus factor in competing for many of the more desirable positions. • Money is a very important factor in career planning, but it is by no means the only important factor. • The choice of a career track counts: In larger companies, there are salary differences between the management and technical tracks. In a large company, your job may revolve around a fairly specific role, while smaller companies may offer faster growth in terms of responsibilities, the breadth of experience, and salary. When comparing job offers from large and small companies, salary isn't everything. Think about growth potential, support for your continuing education, technical resources, and always consider the stability of the hiring division or company -- and don't forget to factor in the cost of living in the local area. • In the long run, many engineers plan their career around the type of work that they find most satisfying. Money doesn't seem to compensate enough if you find that you're going everyday to a job you don't like that's not taking you where you want to go. Employment According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, mechanical engineers hold about 227,000 jobs. This represents 15.1% of the 1.5 million jobs held by engineers in the U.S. Mechanical engineers are capable of working in a wide variety of industry sectors, and new technologies will create industries that don't exist today. Your opportunities are determined by education, your interests and attitudes, and the contacts that you make. According to an ASME Career Path Survey, about half of mechanical engineers were employed in the original equipment industries. The next largest industry sector was non-manufacturing employers, followed by process industries. Evaluating Employers Remember that there are two parties in an employment relationship. When preparing for any job search, write down what you expect from an employer and a job. This may not be easy the first time, when you can't fall back on experience. Setting money aside for a moment, here are five questions that working engineers see as important: • Can I expect a variety of assignments, and will those assignments provide `hands-on' experience in interesting, worthwhile areas? Will these projects prepare me for bigger and better things? • How much actual responsibility will I have for the projects assigned to me? What kind of team will I be assigned to, and what will be my role? • Will I get a chance to broaden my experience by working in different areas of the company? Does the company have rotational assignments? • Were the people who I met during my interview energetic and enthusiastic about their jobs? Was there anything about employee morale that didn't seem positive? • Is there support for continuing education, through in-house training, graduate studies, or other professional education programs? "Mechanical Engineering Overview" Prepared as part of the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center (www.careercornerstone.org) Job Search About 60% of mechanical engineering graduates say that they find jobs through their campus placement office, while some conduct their own job search, particularly where specialized interests are involved. You may be interested in a company that doesn't do much campus recruiting, and some companies have simply cut back on campus interviews -- you have to reach out to them. Contacts can be very important in finding opportunities and getting interviews, so try to build contacts through faculty, co-op jobs and internships, alumni, and professional association student groups. A job search is like marketing a new product, where you first determine who your customers (potential employers) are and what they need. You may have to shape the product (you) to meet customer requirements. Finally, you devise a marketing message and focus on the most appropriate customers, or in this case, employers. Think of the things that most interest you, target companies that do those things, be persistent, and follow through on leads. Presenting yourself effectively is a big part of getting hired. Try to anticipate what the employer's needs are, and what information you should provide to address those needs. The following is a partial list of employers of mechanical engineers: • 3M Company • Ford Motor Company • Adobe Systems, Inc. • General Electric • Advanced Micro Devices. • General Motors • Alcan Aluminum • Georgia Pacific • ALCOA • Hewlett Packard • Allegheny Ludlum Corp. • IBM • Alliant Techsystems • Ingersoll-Rand • Amoco • Intel Corporation • Applied Materials • International Paper • Argonne National Laboratory • ITT • Babcock & Wilcox • Johnson Controls, Inc. • BASF Corporation • Los Alamos National Lab • Bayer Corp. • LTV Steel • Bechtel • Lucent Technologies • BF Goodrich • Michelin • Black & Decker • Microsoft Corporation • Boeing Company • Mobil Corporation • Chrysler Corporation • Motorola • Cincinnati Milacron, Inc. • Nissan Motor Corporation USA • Conoco • PPG Industries • Corning Incorporated • Procter & Gamble • Deere & Company, Inc. • Sun Microsystems • Dow Chemical • Sundstrand Aerospace • Duracell • Texas Instruments, Inc. • Eastman Chemical Co. • Timken Co. • Eastman Kodak • United Technologies • Eaton Corp • W.L. Gore • EI DuPont • Westinghouse • Exxon Chemical Company • Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel • FMC Corporation • Xerox "Mechanical Engineering Overview" Prepared as part of the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center (www.careercornerstone.org) Development A successful mechanical engineering career is the result of a building process that starts during the undergraduate years, if not earlier. Once on the job, the process continues through networking, on-the-job training, graduate studies, and continuing professional education. Practicing engineers tell us two things: First, today's engineer is expected to be more self-reliant and more self-managed in planning and doing work. Second, and more important, employers will not plan your career -- nor do you want that to happen. Once you find a company and job that you like, you still need a strategy for moving ahead. Your career building efforts will be more successful if you understand how your aptitudes mesh with your surroundings. Are you doing the work you are best suited for, or are you headed that way -- if not, what additional experience and training do you need to secure the right job? You are in charge of managing your career, before and after your first promotion. Managing Your Career From Day One, evaluate your options within the company, looking for interesting work and good career-building assignments. Find out where that work is located, and what you must do to position yourself for opportunities. You must take steps to manage your own career. Be constantly on the lookout for more experienced advisors and mentors. Tactfully make management aware of your capabilities and interests and illustrate how you think you can benefit the company in a new assignment. This must be done as a result of a serious examination of yourself and the needs of the company -- in that order -- and by keeping your eye on the big picture of where the company is headed. What if your current employer cannot move you into more desirable work? Well-planned and timely job changes are part of the mechanical engineers' career strategy for broadening one's experience and advancing in position, responsibility, and salary. Most mechanical engineers gain an understanding of their field and true interests in their very early career experiences. There is a dramatic increase in job changes in years 3 to 5, with related salary gains. How Long Do Mechanical Engineers Stay in Their First Job? About 43% of the mechanical engineers surveyed were continuing to work for their original employer five years after graduation. Another 25% were with their second employer. We were not able to tell how many, if any, of the changes of employer were due to company mergers or sales. "Mechanical Engineering Overview" Prepared as part of the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center (www.careercornerstone.org) Lifelong Learning As a mechanical engineer, you will shape future technology by using the latest developments in current technology. You will be employing technologies and ideas used elsewhere as solutions in your own projects. You will find yourself being challenged to keep abreast of changes
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