Mechanical Engineer Job Description
Mechanical engineers apply their knowledge of mechanics, materials science, kinematics, structural analysis, electricity, thermodynamics, and physics to research, analyze, design, produce, and perform maintenance on mechanical systems. They typically deal with manufacturing and operation of tools and machines.
A mechanical engineer’s job is to design efficient tools and solutions used in the development of products and processes. These can be large industrial plants, component designs, or anything in between. Mechanical engineers can be involved in all or some of the phases of a project or product, from analysis and development to production and installation.
Mechanical engineering is one of the broadest fields of engineering. Subfields include mechatronics, robotics, thermodynamics and thermo-science, structural analysis, design and drafting, nanotechnology, and biomechanics.
Mechanical engineers must have an excellent knowledge of core concepts of the field, such as thermodynamics, instrumentation, electronics, hydraulics, engineering design, structural analysis, mechanics, and kinematics. An advanced knowledge of mathematics, linear and abstract algebra, and differential geometry is essential. Mechanical engineers must also know how to use product lifecycle management (PLM) systems, computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided engineering (CAE) tools.
Mechanical engineers must have above average conceptual, planning, problem-solving, and designing skills. Potential employers also value engineers with good commercial awareness and people skills.
Mechanical engineers usually have a degree in mechanical engineering, manufacturing engineering, computer-aided engineering, engineering science, nuclear engineering, agricultural engineering, or aeronautical engineering. They must have an accredited MEng degree or a combination of academic awards, typically including an appropriate master’s degree, one that professional bodies consider acceptable for chartered status (CEng). Those with accredited HNDs can undertake a conversion course, and eventually earn the status of incorporated engineer (IEng). The relevant professional bodies for mechanical engineers are the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE). Postgraduate degrees are not a requirement for most jobs, but can be very helpful in terms of career options.
Before accepting any job, mechanical engineers whose goal is to work toward chartered status should make sure that the potential employer’s company offers training programs accredited by one of the relevant professional bodies. Most large engineering firms are quite supportive of recent graduates in this respect.
Engineers without a degree or HND can enter the profession if they have at least 15 years of work experience in the engineering field and some project management experience on their resume.
Mechanical engineering is a broad and diverse discipline and job opportunities are available across many different sectors. Depending on their field of expertise, mechanical engineers can analyze, improve, and create industrial equipment, transport systems, medical devices, industrial plants and machinery, heating or cooling systems, and a number of other products and tools. They are also often involved in prototype testing, the production process, and implementation. They sometimes lead and coordinate teams and are in charge of managing resources on a project.
A mechanical engineer’s responsibilities typically include proposing and implementing cost-effective modifications to make equipment more efficient, evaluating theoretical concepts and design improvements, making sure that each piece of equipment performs consistently, proposing and designing new manufacturing processes, and dealing with issues related to safety.