Mechanical engineering covers a broad discipline but is generally associated with the design, development, building, testing, maintenance and operation of mechanical and thermal systems such as tools, engines and machines. Humans encounter it everyday in technology, transportation, machinery and almost all aspects of modern life.
Generally, an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering would have the student or candidate take classes in physics, materials science, mathematics and some specialisation classes (to be discussed later in the article). A university’s curriculum (which includes the specific classes and units mandatory to obtain the degree) for degrees in mechanical engineering usually depends on its country’s accreditation system.
Some universities require prerequisite coursework for their degree programs in mechanical engineering. For example, one university might require you complete a specific number of units in calculus and basic sciences before you are accepted into the program. These prerequisites may be obtained in community colleges or preparatory schools for universities and in some cases even at the universities themselves. As such information is very specific to the degree and university, you are advised to check the specific websites of the university you are interested in or to contact them for more information specific to their institution.
Mechanical Engineering degrees usually consist of both lecture theatre and laboratory based classes. Students or candidates are also normally expected to undertake a major design project, research or thesis in their final years wherein they would apply the technical knowledge they have obtained throughout the whole program.
Most universities provide specialisation options for their students, either through optional electives or as a mandatory part of the degree program. Since mechanical engineering is a significantly broad field, there are many specialisation options presented by institutions, though the availability would also depend on the offerings of each university and the expertise of it’s academic staff.
Below is a short list of some common offerings of specialisation as part of a mechanical engineering undergraduate degree:
The accreditation of a degree usually depends on the country where the degree is awarded. In most cases, countries have their own accrediting systems for universities, students and graduates. Some countries or states may seek a license from engineering graduates who want to work professionally as engineers. A part of this license may be passing a comprehensive exam or board exams and gaining experience in the field.
A degree in mechanical engineering can take anywhere from three to five years. In some cases, it could even take six years. The exact period of time would depend on the university of your choice and the country wherein it is located. The timeframe of study can also depend on whether or not the program is an integrated program that takes longer than a regular bachelor’s but results in a master’s degree.
There are also various degrees available for mechanical engineering graduates at the master’s and doctorate level. These degrees can involve specialisation in a specific area of engineering and would more often than not require work experience in the field you would like to research or study. Examples include:
Aside from the technical knowledge that mechanical engineering graduates gain upon completion of their studies, they also have the opportunity to gain different skills such as problem solving, computer/technological literacy and project management. Universities report that their mechanical engineering graduates have highly transferrable skills, which could be applied in jobs or careers not necessarily related to mechanical engineering.
Since mechanical engineering is such a broad discipline, graduates with this degree can end up in various fields and industries including manufacturing, aerospace, automotive, electronics, power generation, oil engineering, medical and research. Some graduates also go on to be production managers, plant managers, technicians and academics.
You can find individuals with a degree in mechanical engineer in offices, building projects, factories… almost everywhere! Upon completion of the degree, it would really depend on the individual whether he or she wants to pursue a career in engineering or use the skills he or she has obtained for a less related career.
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