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.
More detailed information about Mechanical Engineering is available on the Career Cornerstone Center's Mechanical Engineering site. Another good way to explore the field of mechanical engineering is to examine the technical interests of the technical divisions of ASME.
Career Guidance Suggestions for Pre-University Students: Pre-University students should take as many math and science courses as possible, both during school and as part of after-school programs. Students aged 5-9 should do additional math, puzzles, and code exploration projects. Students aged 9-12 should take extra math, and if inspired, explore pre-algebra and geometry. Students aged 12-18 might consider taking advanced algebra, chemistry, calculus, geometry, trigonometry, physics, design, and engineering concept courses.
There are also several lessons and activities, and projects and competitions that can help provide students with an interest in engineering first hand exposure to electrical engineering principals. Students who implement these activities and participate in projects or competitions have a better understanding of engineering and its impact on society. They'll be better able to determine if engineering is the career path for them by sharing their interest with other students, and experiencing hands-on applications of engineering. Summer programs and internships are another great way for students at the pre-university level to explore engineering.
What Mechanical Engineering Students Study: 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. Many Engineering students also participate in co-op programs. Co-op students alternate terms of work experience in different industries with terms of coursework.