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What is Engineering?

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Mechanical Engineers

Design, build and test machines, engines and other mechanical devices as a mechanical engineer

Whenever you buy or use almost any product, you can be sure that a mechanical engineer was involved in making it.

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Mechanical engineering is one of the broadest engineering fields. That’s because a mechanical engineer’s work varies by industry and by the type of work. For example:

  • A mechanical engineer working at a tool company may design and build the automated machines used to assemble products. These automated machines are the tools that other engineers need for their work. Such machines might be used to build products such as automobiles, computers, lamps, cell phones and stereos. A machine tool engineer is an example of this type of mechanical engineer.
  • Or, a mechanical engineer working at an automotive company might be using the tools and machines built by others to manufacture parts or products sold by the company. An automotive design engineer is an example of this type of mechanical engineer.


Because mechanical engineers work with machines, they may specialize in:

  • Manufacturing, or making products
  • Materials, or creating special metals, woods and composites from raw materials that others use in manufacturing
  • Robots used in manufacturing
  • Plant engineering and maintenance systems
  • Power-producing machines such as internal combustion engines, and steam and gas turbines
  • Elevators and escalators
  • Heating, refrigeration and air conditioning systems


Mechanical engineers use computers daily to:

  • Perform complex mathematical computations
  • Simulate new designs
  • Change existing designs

By using CAD/CAM – Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) – mechanical engineers can turn a design into a manufactured product.

College coursework

If you major in mechanical engineering in college, you will study:

  • Dynamics and statics
  • Strength of materials
  • Heat transfer
  • Fluid dynamics
  • Solid mechanics
  • Pneumatics
  • Hydraulics
  • Applied thermodynamics
  • Control theory

You also must be able to understand and apply concepts from chemistry and electrical engineering.