Mechanical Engineering is a discipline that applies the principles of physics and materials science. Aside from being the oldest and most general engineering discipline, it also involves the analysis, design, making and maintenance of various mechanical engines or systems. Graduates of this course are expected to have a good working knowledge of kinematics, mechanics, material science, energy and other basic concepts.
Many ancient and medieval records contained applications of mechanical engineering. The ancient Greeks' contribution to this field had greatly influenced the western world. The Chinese have also invented the seismometer, a device that can measure earthquakes. During the Islamic golden age, basic mechanisms like crank and cam shafts were invented. The 19th century English and Scots have developed machine tools that will start the Industrial revolution. It is also during this time that the American and British formed professional societies in this field.
This degree is offered at universities around the world and usually takes 4 to 5 years to complete. Most if not all graduates must get accredited by some kind of accreditation board from their respective country. The reason behind this is to promote competence and maintain confidence in the profession. This will also ensure the uniformity of the fundamental subjects taken by the students in areas like, drafting, fluid mechanics and dynamics, hydraulics and pneumatics, instrumentation and measurement, material engineering, mechanism, mechatronics and control theory, statistics and dynamics, strength of materials and solid mechanics. An understanding and ability to apply basic concepts from other engineering fields, chemistry and physics is also expected. Most programs will have several units of calculus, differential equations, algebra, geometry and other mathematical concepts. Aside from accreditation, most countries also require engineers to obtain a license that will permit them to do certain tasks like designing and building power plants.
The study also has several sub-disciplines like Mechanics, which study force and effect on matter. Kinematics studies the motion of objects while ignoring the force that caused the motion. Mechatronics is integrated with electrical engineering to create hybrid systems like a CD-ROM drive. Robotics is the creation of robots using mechatronics. Structural analysis deals with cause and effect of objects failure like a collapsed bridge, and how to fix such failure. Thermodynamics is the study of how to use and transform energy. Drafting also known as technical drawing is used to create instructions for mechanical parts. Mechanical Engineering is also making great strides in the areas of nanotechnology, creation of composite materials, and micro electro mechanical systems. A new type of welding has also been discovered. The friction stir welding is expected to be used in the construction of airplanes and space shuttles in the near future.
In the United States there are more than two hundred thousand mechanical engineers with an average starting salary of around $50,000 for bachelor degree holders, $60,000 for those holding a master’s degree and $68,000 for those holding a doctorate. The demand for these professionals is also expected to increase annually. In the United Kingdom this is the second highest paid profession next to medicine.
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