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Mechanical Design focus in Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical Engineering

Focus Area: Mechanical Design

Mechanical engineering is, by design, a broad engineering field requiring the knowledge of mechanical and thermodynamic systems that contain mechanical, chemical, and electrical systems. Therefore, the aforementioned fundamental knowledge and skills are required to create devices and products. The advanced study of mechanics of materials, kinematics, impact dynamics, machine design, product development, and heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) provide a core set of fundamental knowledge and skills for mechanical design.

The mechanical engineering curriculum provides students interested in a career in product development with an emphasis in machine design that builds off of the fundamentals in math, chemistry, physics, engineering mechanics (statics, dynamics, and mechanics of materials), and thermodynamics.

Broad Career Possibilities

Mechanical component design is useful throughout a plethora of industries. The automotive and aerospace industries are well known examples of where mechanical engineers perform component and system design. An airplane and a car contain thousands of components, which make up subsystems and ultimately the complete system. A single component can cause the entire system to fail, such as a flat tire for a car or a fuel line for an airplane. The component needs to be repaired or replaced to use the system again.

Expertise in mechanical design focuses on specific topics selected to focus the engineering student’s abilities around product design and function. An engineer that has the ability to keep the product in mind, designs the system so that it meets the design criteria of form, fit, function, cost, and reliability.

Employers of mechanical engineers with a mechanical design focus include large technology companies, small start-up companies, and national and government labs. Given the practical understanding and experience gained by studying machine design, kinematics, product design, and impact dynamics, mechanical engineers strengthen their breadth of knowledge across technical disciplines. Nearly any modern technology has aspects of mechanical, electrical, and materials engineering. An example of a modern technology is a cell phone. The mechanical components and integration of existing commercially off the shelf parts (COTS) include the USB connector, earphone jack, camera, screen, battery, and antenna. The electrical design would include the electromagnetic shielding, screen sensors, and additional sensors, such as a fingerprint reader, accelerometer, or gyroscope. The materials design includes the case material, water proofing, and screen protection to name a few. Mechanical design breadth of knowledge means employment stability by providing a large employment base.

Engineers have the ability to design, fabricate, and test components and systems. Mechanical design engineers typically focus on (1) the feasibility of a component from cost analysis all the way through to function, (2) the fabrication of the component or system using existing or new techniques, and (3) the testing of the component to verify design criteria and fabrication results.

Educational Requirements

Educational requirements for mechanical design focused engineers range from a BS to graduate degrees. Earning an MS degree with a research focus in mechanical design devices, materials, methods, and theory provides many opportunities into the R&D world of product design. Continuing on to earn a PhD will enable true depth in your chosen interest area within mechanical design and is typically performed at the systems level. An advanced degree enables jobs in R&D at national laboratories, small businesses, and large businesses for product development.