TL;DR Majors: Mechanical Engineering
By Shang Chen
February 10, 2021 · 2 minute read
Mechanical Engineering is one of the broadest STEM majors offered at many universities. However, just because a major is broad doesn’t mean it isn’t useful. Mechanical engineers keep the world running, quite literally. From maintaining electrical systems to designing innovative modes of transportation, mechanical engineering is here to stay.
What is Mechanical Engineering?
“The mechanical engineer has been called the general practitioner and the jack-of-all-trades among engineering professions... In general, however, the mechanical engineer is concerned with controlling the principles of motion, energy, and force through mechanical solutions.”
Mechanical engineers use the fields of physics, chemistry, and mathematics to solve real-world problems. Their diverse coursework allows them to tackle complex issues that span a variety of disciplines. For example, designing robots to be used by surgeons requires not only an understanding of mechanics but also chemistry and biology. Likewise, mechanical engineers working on building a new generation of engines for electric vehicles need a background in chemistry and physics. Mechanical engineers will also have to work with a variety of non-STEM majors to bring their ideas to fruition, skills like communication and working well with others are key for success in engineering and any major in that regard.
What careers are available to Mechanical Engineering Majors?
While it would be impossible to outline all of the different careers Mechanical Engineers go into, we’ve provided some examples below with a brief description of the role:
- Product Design - designing and implementing products with moving parts
- Research and Development - Discovering new technologies and improving upon existing ones
- Manufacturing - Building and maintaining an efficient supply chain for businesses
- Energy - Maintaining and managing how power is distributed to cities
Note that there are roles for mechanical engineers outside the world of STEM. Less technical roles that still benefit greatly from mechanical engineering degrees include marketing, product management, and even public policy to an extent.
The world of Mechanical Engineering is extremely diverse, and I highly recommend students interested (and even those who are just now hearing about Mechanical Engineering) to check out other online resources to find out more about the major and the career opportunities it provides. For a more in-depth look at what Mechanical Engineering is really about, make sure to read through an interview with Christian, a current undergraduate at MIT.
Christian Williams - Massachusetts Institute of Technology
What inspired you to major in Mechanical Engineering (MechE)?
MechE was a field I didn't understand until I got to college. I took a toy product design class and realized it was the combination of math, physics, design, and computer science that I was looking for.
What are some of the coolest projects you've worked on through your high school or college career?
I'd still say designing a board game in my freshman year toy product design class was the most fun I've ever had. From ideating about a new toy to laser cutting at the board, the whole process was very exciting.
What have been some of the challenges of being a Mechanical Engineering major?
The amount of time required in the lab. From a homeschool background, I wasn't used to spending 4+ hours a day building something or testing a theory.
What fields or jobs are you looking to go into after majoring in Mechanical Engineering?
I haven't quite narrowed down what I want to do, but that's how I like it. I have options from robotics, product design, manufacturing, engineering analysis, and so on. I look forward to having multiple options throughout my career.
What skills would you say are the most important for aspiring Mechanical Engineering students?
I'd say understanding the big picture. Not an official 'skill', but as a MechE you don't need to be amazing at math, physics, or coding. Being able to apply these together efficiently is the most important part of a successful design.
What advice/tips would you offer to a high school student who might be interested in (STEM Field)?
Get involved with clubs or projects related to MechE. I still regret not being a part of robotics in High School since I was homeschooled. Any experience makes the future easier.
Finally, tell us a little about yourself.
I'm an avid gamer who loves competitive games, but I also want to help the world through engineering and design. Maybe someday I'll try beatboxing or pick up archery again.
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About The Author
Shang Chen is on the executive team of SciTeens and is studying Data Science and Economics at UC Berkeley. His hobbies include working out, cooking, and playing video games. Feel free to reach out to him with comments, questions, and future article recommendations at Shang@SciTeens.org. Sources: https://www.worldwidelearn.com/online-education-guide/engineering/mechanical-engineering-major.html https://me.berkeley.edu/about/ https://www.bestcolleges.com/careers/science-and-engineering/mechanical-engineering/