A question I get a lot in information sessions from pre college students is:


“What do you do as a mechanical engineer?”


To anyone who is remotely interested in studying mechanical engineering in college, but wants to learn a little more about it, this blog is dedicated to you!


So let’s start with the basics: what is mechanical engineering??? A quick search on google states “One of the most diverse and versatile engineering fields, mechanical engineering is the study of objects and systems in motion. As such, the field of mechanical engineering touches virtually every aspect of modern life, including the human body, a highly complex machine.” This quote is beautiful, but it’s kind of hard to abstract unless you already have been exposed to this field in the first place.


So here’s how I like to put it. Literally anything that you can touch in the real world is something that a mechanical engineer was probably involved with developing. Lets dissect what “touch” and “developing” mean in that sentence:


Touch could be anything from the computer you’re reading this on, the phone in your pocket, the case on your phone, the headphones on your ears, the packaging the headphones came in, the shoes on your feet, the house you’re in, the air being moved around in your house (HVAC),  the car you traveled in, the plane you see outside your window, the 3D printer your thinking about buying (yes you should definitely buy it), the coffee maker you used earlier, the robotic arm you may have seen in some youtube video, the list keeps going on going… Don’t forget the rockets that go to space, the fighter jets on military bases, the missiles in those fighter jets (you may not really touch these anytime soon but they’re still very relevant to our field). 


^^ So those are some examples of the things you can develop as a mechanical engineer. Now, what is developing you may ask??? Well here it goes: 


Developing could be a combination of initial concepts, 3D cad modeling, materials selection, electro-mechanical system integration (this one involves some coding), stress and thermal analysis using FEA simulation, geometric dimensioning and tolerancing, Product/project management (search Hardware PM for stuff that’s relevant to MechE), making manufacturing specifications, manufacturing and assembly processes, testing designs in real life, performing experiments, applying physics to understand real life phenomena, operations and maintenance of mechanical systems, etc, etc, etc. Don’t forget many mechanical engineers become managers, and lead companies. Some mechanical engineers go into academia and do research. Others start their own companies. The possibilities are endless.


As you can tell, there are many types of work you could be applying to the development of the many types of things you touch. So now the real challenge is, do you see yourself doing any of this in the future? If you do, study Mechanical engineering. If you find another discipline to be cooler, study that! If you’re not sure what you wanna do, but you find a certain tangible thing you can touch fascinating, and you’re obsessed with it and what it does, then you should definitely try out mechanical engineering. 


Hopefully, this post helped you learn a little more about this discipline, and if you have any questions feel free to contact me or any other mechanical engineer!

Loic Alini

Loic Alini

MAJOR: Mechanical Engineering YEAR: Class of 2021 HOMETOWN: Dublin, CA PRONOUNS: he/him/his INSTA: @loic.alini On campus I have worked on the SC Racing team, and I'm currently involved with the 3D printing org '3D4E'. Outside of Viterbi, I am involed with volunteering in the community through JEP, and I have interned at Intel.

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