The Many Fields of Mechanical Engineering

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Because mechanical engineering is so broad, the discipline is a part of most every type of industry, everything from manufacturing and automobiles to computers and robotics. The following is a list we’ve compiled that will help you get to know the wide array fields where mechanical engineers work.


Basic Engineering

Mechanical engineers deal with machines of every kind, focusing on their motion and the transfer of energy. Nikolas Tesla and Henry Ford were both mechanical engineers.

Applied Mechanics

Applied Mechanics specializes in the values of shock and vibration, dynamics and motion, as well as fracture and failure in a multitude of components.

Fluids Engineering

For everything that flows, mechanics are involved. This includes air, water, sand, oil, and much more. Fluids engineers design and build systems which control flow. Such systems include pumps, turbines, compressors, valves, pipelines and fluid systems in vehicles.

Heat Transfer

Heat is always moving all around us. Heat may be present in a computer, an automobile, even in a ventilation system. The field  knows as Heat Transfer specializes in power generation and transmission systems, among others.

Bioengineering

Mechanical engineering covers a vast array of subjects and the human body is one of them. Bioengineering deals with artificial organs, biomechanics, biomaterials, bio-instrumentation, biotransport processes, human factors, medical devices, biomedical modeling and biological systems.

Tribology

Tribology is the science of surfaces and how they interact in motion. This means friction, lubrication, and wear. A tribologist specializes in any two surfaces rubbing up against one another.

Energy Conversion

Energy conversion and mechanical engineering go hand in hand in all aspects of energy, everything from solar to wind to more traditional types like oil and gas.

Internal Combustion Engines

Internal combustion engines may be the backbone of automobiles but they are also used in marine craft, aircraft and even electric generators.

Fuels & Combustion Technologies

Mechanical engineers specialize in not only combustion systems but their fuels as well. This includes fuel processing, alternative fuels, fuel handling, as well as transportation and storage.

Power EngineeringElectric Power Engineering Handbook: Electric Power Substations Engineering

Power engineering encompasses the design and production of electricity-producing systems.

Energy Resources

Mechanical engineers not only specialize in the conversion of energy but in the discovery and development of new energy sources as well.

Advanced Energy Systems

Power cycle devices, fuel cells, gas turbines, these are just a few of the new energy systems developed by mechanical engineers.

Solar Engineering

Mechanical engineering may go back to the time of the pyramids, but utilizing mechanical engineering skills is imperative even in the newest forms of energy like solar power.

Nuclear Engineering

Mechanical engineers are the ones who design the components for nuclear reactors and systems. Such components include heat exchangers, radioactive waste systems and new fuel technologies.

Petroleum

The petroleum industry would be nowhere without mechanical engineers. Mechanical engineers design and develop components for oil and gas drilling and production, offshore and arctic operations, hydrocarbon processing, synthetic fuels and coal technology, materials, equipment design and manufacture, fuel transport, new fuel technologies and pollution control.

Ocean, Offshore & Arctic Engineering

So much energy comes from offshore sources these days. Mechanical engineers are an integral part in the design and development of  ocean structures, systems, 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.

Environment & Transportation

Mechanical engineers play a vital role not just in how we transport goods from one place to another but in how these methods of transports may affect the environment around them.

Aerospace & Automotive

Mechanical engineers design and develop some of the most complex systems involved in everything from the traditional automobile to spacecraft heading to Mars. They are an integral part of not just the moving mechanisms but even the more delicate systems of life support.

Environmental Engineering

When we talk about the environment we are talking about how machines affect heat, noise, and pollutants. Reducing the negative impact machines have on the environment is just as important as the quality of the machine itself.

Noise Control & Acoustics

Sounds move through vibrations and can be found not just in the air but in the water and in outer space as well. Noise control through the study of acoustics is just one of the ways in which mechanical engineers help improve the quality of machines and how they interact with our lives.

Rail Transportation

Mechanical engineers are involved with every aspect of railroad transportation from the tracks to the trains themselves. Although the railway system has been around for more than two hundred years, new developments in technology have kept it a viable means of transport all these years.

Solid Waste Processing

Solid waste processing goes hand in hand with environmental control. Mechanical engineers are a vital cog in the process of not just designing and building waste management systems but in converting that biomass into waste-to-energy solutions.

Manufacturing EngineeringManufacturing Engineering and Technology

While mechanical engineers work in dozens of fields, it’s in manufacturing where nearly half of them are employed. Manufacturing can be anything from consumer goods to industrial equipment.

Materials Handling Engineering

Whether a material is expensive, fragile, hazardous, or all three, mechanical engineers specialize in the handling and transportation of such goods, getting them to their final destination safely while at the same time considering environmental issues.

Plant Engineering & Maintenance

Manufacturing plants don’t just have to be designed and built, they must be maintained, repaired, and even upgraded. Without the mechanical engineer, none of this would be possible.

Process Industries

A process engineer alters materials from one form to another so that they can be used in new and innovative ways. A mechanical engineer designs and builds machines that heat, cool, liquefy, harden or soften substances.

Textile Engineering

Textile companies are always looking for good mechanical engineers to help them in the design and building of the machines that allow them to weave and knit fabrics and materials of all kinds.

Materials Engineering

A materials mechanical engineer specializes in materials of all kinds, so this is a very broad field. These materials can range from everything from those that need stamping, forging casting, even rolling.

Non-Destructive Evaluation

Nondestructive means exactly what it says. In this case, it means being able to test a machine without having to take it apart. A mechanical engineer may employ technologies like x-rays, ultrasound, magnetic particle inspection, infrared and other techniques.

Pressure Vessels & Piping

Pressure vessels and piping are critical in many industries, and mechanical engineers develop materials that resist fatigue and fracture, plan the fabrication of equipment, perform inspections and tests, and design components..

Dynamic Systems & Control

Dynamic systems need to be controlled. Typical applications of DSC include novel transducer designs, biomechanics at the cellular and human scale, dynamics and control of power and vehicle systems, and innovations in signal and information theory. These engineers are needed in a vast number of areas — aerospace and transportation, biomedical equipment, production machinery, energy and fluid power systems, expert systems and environmental systems.

Fluid Power Systems & Technology

An excavator, which employs hydraulic power systems, demolishes the old Experimental Sciences building to make way for new construction

Hydraulic and pneumatics systems are in everyday use. Mechanical engineers are needed to design and build these systems that could be used in automotive, aerospace, manufacturing, power industries and any situations that call for a flexible and precise application of power in large amounts.

Information Storage & Processing Systems

With the vast amounts of data that are stored in computer systems today, mechanical engineers are needed to design and manufacture the devices to store this data. They are normally involved in hard disk technologies, data storage and equipment, wear and lubrication in data storage devices, micro-sensors and controls.

Microelectromechanical Systems

Microelectromechanical systems combine computers with tiny mechanical devices such as sensors, valves, gears and actuators embedded in semiconductor chips. Mechanical engineers are needed for the design and development of these high-tech devices.


Handbook of Mechanical Engineering Calculations     Rules of Thumb for Mechanical Engineers     RSMeans Mechanical Cost Data 2015     International Mechanical Code 2009 Paperback