Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mechanical Engineering at a Glance

It is one of the oldest and broadest engineering disciplines.

Mechanical engineering is a discipline of engineering that applies the principles of physics and materials science for analysis, design, manufacturing, and maintenance of mechanical systems. It is the branch of engineering that involves the production and usage of heat and mechanical power for the design, production, and operation of machines and tools.

The engineering field requires an understanding of core concepts including mechanics, kinematics, thermodynamics, materials science, and structural analysis. Mechanical engineers use these core principles along with tools like computer-aided engineering and product lifecycle management to design and analyze manufacturing plants, industrial equipment and machinery, heating and cooling systems, transport systems, aircraft, watercraft, robotics, medical devices and more.

Mechanical engineering emerged as a field during the industrial revolution in Europe in the 18th century; however, its development can be traced back several thousand years around the world. Mechanical engineering science emerged in the 19th century as a result of developments in the field of physics. The field has continually evolved to incorporate advancements in technology, and mechanical engineers today are pursuing developments in such fields as composites, mechatronics, and nanotechnology. Mechanical engineering overlaps with aerospace engineering, building services engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering, petroleum engineering, and chemical engineering to varying amounts.

The fundamental subjects of mechanical engineering usually include:
Statics and dynamics
Strength of materials and solid mechanics
Instrumentation and measurement
Thermodynamics, heat transfer, energy conversion, and HVAC
Combustion, automotive engines, fuels
Fluid mechanics and fluid dynamics
Mechanism design (including kinematics and dynamics)
Manufacturing engineering, technology, or processes
Hydraulics and pneumatics
Mathematics - in particular, calculus, differential equations, and linear algebra.
Engineering design
Product design
Mechatronics and control theory
Material Engineering
Design engineering, Drafting, computer-aided design (CAD) (including solid modeling), and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM)

Mechanical engineers are also expected to understand and be able to apply basic concepts from chemistry, physics, chemical engineering, civil engineering, and electrical engineering. Most mechanical engineering programs include multiple semesters of calculus, as well as advanced mathematical concepts including differential equations, partial differential equations, linear algebra, abstract algebra, and differential geometry, among others.

In addition to the core mechanical engineering curriculum, many mechanical engineering programs offer more specialized programs and classes, such as robotics, transport and logistics, cryogenics, fuel technology, automotive engineering, biomechanics, vibration, optics and others, if a separate department does not exist for these subjects.

Most mechanical engineering programs also require varying amounts of research or community projects to gain practical problem-solving experience. In the United States it is common for mechanical engineering students to complete one or more internships while studying, though this is not typically mandated by the university. Cooperative education is another option.