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Mechanical engineering deals with the design, operation and maintenance of anything with moving parts. The applications of mechanical engineering have a significant impact on most areas of our lives, and this is therefore an important and rewarding role. Mechanical engineers create, design, research, build and develop devices, products, machines and vehicles that make our life easier. 
In addition to designing and creating the actual products, mechanical engineers may also design the processes and tools that are used to make these products function. Mechanical engineering plays a crucial part in a huge range of industries, from aeronautical, defense, construction, and transport engineering, to medical, manufacturing, telecommunications engineering and the energy sector. A high degree of technical expertise in different industries and sectors is therefore beneficial for this varied role.   

Typical employers: 

  • Construction, manufacturing, and transport companies 
  • Consultancies
  • Research and development organizations
  • The Civil Service
  • Utilities companies
  • Government agencies
  • The armed forces

Job Specification, Salary, Outlook 
Mechanical engineers are responsible for creating products and prototypes. They are required to work closely with other teams or departments during a project, and may also report to project managers and senior management. Mechanical engineers typically work in an office environment but they may also need to attend client meetings and to visit manufacturing sites. Working hours will vary depending on the type of project. 

Typical job titles:

  • Mechanical Engineer
  • Mechanical Product Engineer (with AutoCAD and CATIA experience) 
  • Junior Mechanical Engineer
  • Mechanical Engineer (with SolidWorks proficiency)

So how much do mechanical engineers earn? The average salary for civil engineer in the United States is $68,909 per annum, with a range of $50,183 - $99,775. Typical factors that impact the level of salary include location of the role, management skills, practical experience, technical expertise and academic background. In the United Kingdom, civil engineers can expect an average salary of £29,995 per year, with a range of £19,032 - £46,371. Many companies offer additional benefits along with the salary package, such as private health insurance.  

Job Description 
Mechanical engineers are responsible for creating, designing, installing, building and servicing mechanical tools, machinery and components. Roles  exist in a wide range of industries and sectors, including power, transport, construction, and the medical sector. This role may also involve managing technicians and team members who perform maintenance and installation.   

Typical responsibilities:

  • Evaluating electromechanical and mechanical products and systems using thermodynamics, principles of mechanics and hydraulics
  • Assessing product capabilities and systems by product testing and feasibility studies
  • Developing electromechanical and mechanical products in line with client requirements
  • Using AutoCAD and other programs to create technical plans from design concepts
  • Research, development and assessment of new ideas and innovations
  • Managing and working with a team of technicians, designers, and other professionals
  • Preparing product reports for senior management
  • Overseeing maintenance programs and quality control on projects
  • Carrying out surveys of mechanical systems to ensure that they are safe and in good working order
  • Improving manufacturing processes by designing and creating equipment for assembling, building, and installing components
  • Maintaining technical knowledge through ongoing training and reading industry publications

Key Skills & Qualifications
A degree in mechanical engineering (BEng) or related engineering discipline is generally required for an entry level mechanical engineering job. Some organizations only recruit mechanical engineering graduates, whereas others will consider candidates with Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) for technician roles. Some employers also prefer postgraduate degrees (MSc, MEng or PhD), and practical work-related experience through industrial training placements and vacation study schemes is often very beneficial. A doctoral or master’s degree in mechanical engineering will be beneficial for individuals pursuing careers as researchers or professors at universities and colleges.

Required skills:

  • Work-related experience and knowledge of mechanical engineering
  • Knowledge in finite element analysis (FEA), product lifecycle management (PLM) and computational fluid dynamics (CFD)
  • Hands-on experience with computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) and computer-aided engineering (CAE) 
  • Familiarity with 3D or 2D engineering design and manufacturing tools and software e.g. CATIA, AutoCAD, ProE, SolidWorks
  • Proficiency in core concepts including mechanics, thermodynamics, kinematics, materials science, etc.
  • Excellent technical, verbal and written communication skills.
  • Solid knowledge of various engineering analysis tools such as ProMechanica or ANSYS 
  • Practical knowledge of analysis tools and mathematical computing e.g. Matlab, LabView 
  • Excellent analytical and evaluative skills
  • The ability to communicate technical concepts in an understandable and clear manner 
  • Technical and engineering writing skills
  • Creativity and attention to detail
  • Excellent mechanics, IT and mathematical skills 
  • Competency at managing finances
  • Quantitative and critical thinking ability
  • The ability to convey design plans and ideas
  • Solid project and time management skills 
  • The capability to work to strict deadlines
  • People management skills and the ability to work within a team 

Mechanical engineering can be a varied and rewarding career. Roles are available in a wide range of industries and sectors, and working for international companies can provide the opportunity to work abroad. A career in mechanical engineering offers diversity, a handsome salary and career progression. If you have a passion and aptitude for engineering and science, then mechanical engineering may be a good career choice for you.