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What Do Mechanical Engineers Do?
In this article we’re talking about jobs for mechanical engineers and answer questions such as “what do mechanical engineers do?” There are also other questions like “can mechanical engineers be an aeronautical engineer?”
Can a mechanical engineer do this or that? And most of the time the answer is “Yes”. These are all massive portions of the pie chart where mechanical engineers work. So if you’ve completed your mechanical engineering degree and wondering what’s next, you’re going to get some practical examples and answers.
So in this article I’m laying out five types of jobs for mechanical engineers and we’re going a little bit more in depth of what that job might actually entail, what you get to work on and what that career may be like if you’re going to choose that for the beginning of your career.
Jobs for Mechanical Engineers
Here are five of the typical jobs for mechanical engineers that you could be doing at the start of your engineering career.
1. Automotive Engineering
The first mechanical engineering job type is automotive engineering. We’re starting with this because so many hopeful mechanical engineers want to work on cars and other vehicles. They know they want to be a part of the automotive industry.
Automotive engineering is technically a part of vehicle engineering. This also is the case for say aerospace engineering or naval architecture. These are both branches of vehicle engineering.
Automotive engineering involves several engineering elements like mechanical, electrical, electronics, software, computer and safety engineering. However, it comes down to really just three things around automotive engineering.
- designing new products or modifying existing ones,
- troubleshooting and solving engineering problems, and
- planning or designing manufacturing processes.
What products do automotive engineers work on?
As a mechanical engineer working in the automotive industry, what are some of the products that you might be working on? You could be working on a machine part of an engine of a car, it could easily be a piece of a body or you could be designing anything inside of the car or even anything in regards to the emissions or the fuel system.
For an automotive engineer, troubleshooting or solving engineering problems would be specific to that company. For example, in 2001, Firestone, the tire company had an issue that killed people. They have had all of their engineers on deck to solve that issue at the time.
Another example is when Tesla is releasing a new product like the Cybertruck they announced recently, in November 2019, they have engineers who are trying to make sure that they can figure out this truck before they do the market announcement.
Outside of a very specific problem for that company that you work for as an automotive engineer, you most likely have a lane of your expertise within automotive engineering that you work on.
Some of these examples include safety engineering. These safety engineers would work on the brakes, the airbags, and the anti-skid and anti-lock systems of the vehicle. You could work on fuel efficiency and emissions.
This is very important in automotive engineering especially these days. This would even include the tires, how the engine operates, the types of fuel that is used, the aerodynamics of the vehicle and other aspects around fuel efficiency.
It could also include VH Engineering. This applies to noise, vibration and harshness. Harshness is the subjective quality of how humans interpret noise or vibration.
You could also work on the vehicle electronics. You could focus on vehicle performance, shift quality, durability, drivability, cost, program timing and more.
Whatever your interest is within automotive engineering you can do that for your career as an automotive engineer.
2. Aerospace Engineering
The next types of jobs for mechanical engineers is aerospace engineering. Most universities don’t have an actual dedicated aerospace engineering program. Because of this there are a lot of questions about the path people can take to become aerospace engineers.
There are plenty of universities that do and that is typically their lead program within their school they’re known as in aerospace engineering school. Because of this the path to become an aerospace engineer isn’t always clear.
However, here is a little tip I can give you. As a mechanical engineer if you choose the right internships, take the right tech electives and you build the right relationships you can enter the aerospace engineering career for your entry-level job.
Aerospace engineering is the primary field of engineering concerned with the design, development, testing and production of aircraft, spacecraft and related systems and equipment.
The field has traditionally focused on problems related to atmospheric and space flight with two major overlapping branches.
The first one is aeronautical engineering and the second one is astronautical engineering but what’s the difference between the two?
Aeronautical engineering focuses on the theory, technology and practice of flight within the Earth’s atmosphere. These are typically planes, jets and things that do not go into outer space. On the other hand, astronautical engineering focuses on the science and technology of spacecraft and launch vehicles.
So if you want to get a job at Boeing for example, then aeronautical engineering is what you want to focus on. If you want to get a job at SpaceX or NASA then astronautical engineering would be the focus.
What’s important here is that the entire field either one of these is considered aerospace engineering.
What do aerospace engineers do?
Aerospace engineers develop leading-edge technologies and integrate them into aerospace vehicle systems used for transportation, communications, exploration and defense applications.
This involves the design and manufacturing of aircraft, spacecraft, propulsion systems, satellites and missiles as well as the design and testing of aircraft and aerospace products, components and sub assemblies.
Where do aerospace engineers work?
So now we know what aerospace engineers do. Next is where do they work?
Aerospace engineers work at systems and software suppliers, corporate labs, government labs and universities. The skill set of an aerospace engineer is extremely broad and multidisciplinary and the experience of aerospace engineers as systems architects and engineers allows them to make contributions in many diverse sectors.
3. Biomedical Engineering
Mechanical engineering job type next on our list is biomedical engineering. Biomedical engineering is another type of engineering like aerospace engineering in the sense that not every core engineering college will have that program.
Universities that have a good health care program, nursing and medical schools are more likely to have a fusion of the engineering college with their medical college and they have a biomedical engineering program.
What is biomedical engineering?
Biomedical engineering is the application of the principles and problem-solving techniques that combine engineering to biology and medicine. This is evident throughout healthcare from diagnosis and analysis to treatment and recovery. This has entered the public consciousness through several technologies such as implantable medical devices.
Some of these implantable medical devices that has come out of biomedical engineering include pacemakers and artificial hips. Things like futuristic technologies such as stem cell engineering, 3d printing of human organs and body parts and beyond.
Biomedical engineering also focuses on the advances that improve human health and human health care at all levels.
How does biomedical engineering differ from other engineering disciplines?
Biomedical engineering differs from other engineering disciplines that have an influence on human health and that biomedical engineers use and apply and intimate knowledge of modern biological principles in their engineering design process.
Aspects of mechanical engineering electrical chemical and material science along with mathematics and computer science are all integrated with human biology in biomedical engineering to improve our health. Whether it be an advancement of prosthetic limb or breakdown in identifying proteins within cells, whatever it may be, this is what BMEs (biomedical engineers) focus on.
There are many sub-disciplines within biomedical engineering including the design and development of active and passive medical devices, orthopaedic implants, medical imaging, biomedical signal processing, tissue and stem cell engineering and clinical engineering to just name a few.
What do biomedical engineers do?
What would you actually do as a BME? There are opportunities in industry for innovating, designing and developing new technologies. In academia, furthering research and pushing the frontiers of what is medically possible as well as testing and improving new diagnostic tools and medical equipment.
Many biomedical engineers are working on cutting-edge medical technologies or a start up or go into entrepreneurship for themselves.
4. Software Engineering
The next on our list of top 5 jobs for mechanical engineers is software engineering. Yes you can be a software engineer as a mechanical engineer.
There’s lots of different types of engineers and “STEM” (Science Technology Engineering Math) college students and professionals that end up in a programmer, computer science, software development, software engineering type of role.
If that’s what you want you can do it.
Software engineering is the systematic application of engineering approaches to the development of software. Software engineering is a branch of computer science and I don’t want you to get this confused.
Software engineering develops software. Computer scientists may never develop computer software. They can be a data scientist, data analyst but they may never actually build or make something new. That’s what’s cool about engineers.
Engineers build stuff, we make stuff. Engineers by nature are tasked with developing solutions to problems or creating more effective processes by using tools already in existence. By extension, software engineers often find themselves creating new software by utilizing existing languages or established practices already in use.
Software engineers have extensive knowledge of programming languages, software development and computer operating systems. They apply engineering principles to software creation. By applying these engineering principles to every stage of the development process, from requirements, analysis to the software process they can create customized systems for individual clients.
What do software engineers do?
Software engineering jobs could definitely be some of the best jobs for mechanical engineers. There are many types of software that a software engineer can develop. These include operating systems, computer games, middleware, business applications and network control systems.
Changes in technology and new areas of specializations keeps this profession evolving at a rapid pace. This is why there’s a huge draw for software engineering. It’s the most traffic engineering type on the Internet. I
Software engineers can be divided into two categories. Applications engineers and systems engineers.
Applications engineers create or adapt applications for business and organizations by analyzing the end-users’ needs. They will design, build, install and maintain these applications or programs.
Systems engineers coordinate the creation, maintenance and growth of a business or organizations’ computer systems. They coordinate each departments needs, suggest technical direction and set up any networks that link up computers with the company.
5. Product Engineering
Finally this is the last of the jobs for mechanical engineers that you could pursue with your mechanical engineering degree. Product engineering refers to the process of designing and developing a device, assembly or system such that it can be produced as an item for sale through some production manufacturing process.
Product engineering usually entails activity dealing with issues of cost, produceability, quality, performance, reliability, serviceability and the intended lifespan of that device and other user features. These product characteristics are generally all sought in the attempt to make the resulting product attractive to its intended market and a successful contributor to the business of the organization that intends to offer the product to that market.
It includes design, development and transitioning to manufacturing of the product. The term encompasses developing the concept of the product and the design and development of its mechanical, electronics and software components.
After the initial design and development is done, transitioning the product to manufacture in volume is considered part of product engineering.
What do you do as a product engineer?
Things that you may be responsible for as a product engineer include you may define the yield, roadmap and drive the fulfillment during ramp up and in production, identify and realize measures for yield improvement, test optimization and product cost ability methods, to find qualification plans and perform feasibility analyses.
Product engineers are the technical interface between the component development team and the production side, which is the front end and back end, the actual software side especially after the development phase and the qualifications when the high volume production is running.
Product engineers improve a products quality and secure the production reliability by balancing the cost of tests and test coverage that would impact the production fall-off.
Jobs for Mechanical Engineers – Final Thoughts
These are five different job type examples that mechanical engineers could do. Just like a lot of engineering disciplines, being a mechanical could be extremely rewarding in terms jobs availability and engineers salary. I trust you found value on the discussion on the types of jobs for mechanical engineers.
If you any questions, comments or recommendations feel free to share your thoughts using the “Comments” section below