What you can do with a mechanical engineering degree?
“Scientists dream about doing great things. Engineers do them.” James A. Michene
A career in mechanical engineering can be very exciting, whether that’s developing the next generation of super cars or robots, or reconfiguring an air conditioning unit. You are part of the process of design and the manufacturing of a new innovation or solving a problem to make people’s everyday lives easier. Engineers are recognised as problem-solvers and it is for this reason that engineers are some of the most sought-after people for a wide variety of roles. There will always be a long-term need for engineers.
What is mechanical engineering?
Mechanical engineering includes how to design, manufacture and maintain manufacturing machinery, from handling large-scale machinery to the tiny and intricate parts of machines. Naturally other areas of engineering can overlap and incorporate electrical engineering, aerospace engineering and civil engineering.
What do you learn in a mechanical engineering degree?
Mechanical engineering degree courses are usually between three and five years. This depends on whether you include a professional placement within your degree course, whether you choose to do a Bachelor of Engineering or a Masters of Engineering or whether you are topping up an HND in Engineering to an Honours Degree (which takes just 12 months).
During your time spent studying for a mechanical engineering degree you are likely to cover modules in design and manufacture, applied mathematics, computing and thermodynamics
You will then be able to specialise by choosing from various modules such as interfacing and data processing physics or computational continuum mechanics.
Students will also often complete an industrial project in their final year while undertaking a work placement.
What do people who study mechanical engineering do after graduating?
One of the many positives about studying for a mechanical engineering degree is the versatility. You can find jobs within the car industry, construction, electronics, aerospace, chemical or metal industries and – with some experience – management and finance.
In many roles you will be a specialist in mechanical engineering, but sometimes you will be more of a generalist drawing on a wider knowledge of engineering.
Let’s take a look at some of the inspiring things you can do with a mechanical engineering degree:
The Car Industry
Working in the car industry will provide you with the experience to become a multi-skilled engineer. You might choose to specialise in a particular area of a car such as chassis engineering or body engineering.
Materials or metals engineer
A materials engineer studies the characteristics of different types of material in order to create biomedical devices and computer chips. You could also work on the maintenance of mechanical plant items (such as pumps, gas turbines, steam turbines etc).
Within the aerospace industry, as a newly qualified graduate mechanical engineer you could be working on efficient cooling systems or new manufacturing processes. As you gain experience you could be leading the work on things like a new power gearbox or advanced composite fan blades.
Working for an oil company, you could work on equipment such as heaters, gas turbines, compressors and piping. You could also be responsible for designing machines and equipment that the offshore engineers rely on.
Mechanical engineers can decide whether an engineering invention should be patented.
Working in the construction industry as a mechanical engineer, you could be working on building projects ranging from airports to offices or hospitals. This could involve designing ventilation and heating systems or air conditioning.
Mechanical engineers in the chemicals industry could work on robotics, pipework, conveyors and values amongst many other areas.
In the defence industry you could be working on the design and testing of equipment to meet the needs of different operating locations and different climates (land, air or sea).
The Marine Industry
In the marine industry you could be working to build vessels or maintain them. You could be designing better boilers or propellers, or your job could be to design ‘greener’ ships for the future with less sea and air pollution.
Researcher or Consultant
Working as a consultant or researcher in a manufacturing company, a mechanical engineer can advise regarding the safety of equipment or come up with technological innovations.
These are just some of the many areas of mechanical engineering you could go into. The industries are so varied that you can find your specialist area.
Plus a huge variety of non-engineering careers
Not only can you work in an engineering role, but you can also branch out into a non-technical career, such as management or finance. Some engineers start their career with a technical engineering role and then move into a management role. Graduate consulting or finance schemes appreciate the discipline and the analytical mind of an engineering graduate. Likewise, IT companies admire the transferable skills that engineering graduates have in problem solving and numeracy. If you think that you would like to teach, schools and universities would benefit from an engineer’s skillset.