Mechanical Engineering is not just one of the oldest of the engineering disciplines, it’s one of the broadest as well. Mechanical engineers design and manufacture machines of all kinds from for energy and heat, mathematics, engineering sciences, design and manufacturing.
Mechanical engineers research, design, develop, manufacture, and test tools, engines, machines, and other mechanical devices. They work on everything from electric generators and internal combustion engines to steam and gas turbines.
Mechanical engineers work on machines of all kinds from refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment, machine tools, material-handling systems, elevators and escalators, industrial production equipment, and robots used in manufacturing.
Principles of mechanical engineering
Mechanical engineering employs the principles of course engineering but material science and physics as well. Mechanical engineers not only design mechanical systems but manufacture, maintain, repair, and even analyze them.
Understanding the discipline itself means understanding core concepts like mechanics, kinematics, thermodynamics, materials science, structural analysis, and electricity. These core concepts are then employed in the development of transport systems, heating and cooling systems, aircraft, even robotics and medical devices.
Mechanical engineering roots
While mechanical engineering is used in all kinds of modern disciplines like petroleum and chemical engineering, its roots actually go back to time of Archimedes in Ancient Greece and Heron in Alexandria.
While taking a tour through history is fun, it’s even more useful in understanding how far mechanical engineering has come. It was Heron of Alexandria who back in the first century AD created the very first steam engine. It was because of these original discoveries that James Watt was able to create his piston-driven steam engine.
It was in the early 19th century in England that new industrial machine tools made it possible to develop the discipline into its own field. The very first British society of mechanical engineers was formed in 8147 only 30 years after the first civil engineers had done so.
Education and its role in mechanical engineering
Becoming a mechanical engineer today means getting the proper education offered at many universities all over the world. A typical mechanical engineering degree takes anywhere from 4-5 years to receive a BME (Bachelor of Engineering) or a BASc (bachelor of Applied Science).
In the US, becoming a mechanical engineer means getting your degree from a university accredited by ABET, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. As of March 11, 2014, ABET lists 302 such accredited engineering programs.