As a high school senior, I can’t say I knew very much about Mechanical Engineering, or even engineering in general. My dad is a Mechanical Engineer, so I kind of knew what he did, but not much beyond that. Now that I’m in school, studying Mechanical Engineering, I still learn something new about my major every day, and I find another exciting application of the degree I plan to obtain.
Mechanical Engineering, to me, is probably the most broad type of engineering. On a basic level, it deals with understanding the physical properties of the world and using that understanding to create devices that operate under those properties. It requires a deep understanding of physics, and application of those principles to the real world. Mechanical Engineering differs from getting a degree in Physics because it is not about learning the principles, but rather, it is about applying the principles. This is common of every engineering major – engineering teaches you how to understand an idea and then use that idea to solve a real world problem.
As a Mechanical Engineer, you kind of have to be a Jack of All Trades – you have to know something about everything. We take classes in physics, chemistry, statics, dynamics, fluids, materials, thermodynamics, circuits, design, etc. I find myself taking similar classes to Aerospace, Astronautical, Electrical, Civil, Environmental, and even Chemical Engineers.
My favorite part of Mechanical Engineering is the design aspect. I love using Computer Aided Design software, such as SolidEdge and SolidWorks. On these programs, we can use 3D software to create parts and mechanical designs on the computer. We can choose the material properties and predict the part’s performance in real-world applications.
I honestly believe Mechanical Engineering is a great option for people who know they want to be engineers, but they don’t know exactly what they want to do with their degree. Because the field is so broad, it can be applied to pretty much any career goal. While I’ve been at school here, my life goal has changed at least 3 times. The thing that has always remained constant for me is that I am interested in design, and I am interested in creative applications of engineering technology. For example, I love the idea of being an Imagineer, and working for Disney. Ideally, I would love to be a part of a team that designs show effects – meaning, I would love to create the technology and effects that are part of the environment in a ride. This, I believe, combines my passion for both design and Mechanical Engineering, as well as cinema and entertainment.
Even though that’s what I want to do now, I know my mind could change even more. There are a million different places you could go with a Mechanical Engineering degree. I have friends in Mechanical Engineering who are interested in designing car engines, working on infrastructure or buildings, working for companies like Boeing or Spacex, going to law school, going to medical school, etc. What I have discovered, and what I have found the most valuable about my major, is that I am in no way limiting my future by being a Mechanical Engineer. Rather, my degree will open doors for me in the future that I never knew existed.