Tinkering on a computer, at a drafting table, or in an office late at night, mechanical engineers pull modern marvels out of their imagination and into the world. Mechanical engineers design devices such as generators, engines, thermal sensors, and tools. Most projects start with an analysis of a problem to determine how a device might solve it. They make prototypes of their designs, and work with teams to build and improve them. Mechanical engineers design air conditioning systems, elevators, and the automated conveyors we see in stores, or that factories use to keep things moving. They are experts at making machines efficient, and integrating all the parts into a smoothly functioning whole. Some mechanical engineers specialize, such as fuel cell engineers, who focus on developing fuel cells that generate electricity from hydrogen, and automotive engineers who improve features of cars, such as suspension or temperature controls. Math, computer, and analytical skills are essential for mechanical engineers. Often team leaders, they must be effective listeners and collaborators as well. Positions are typically available in engineering companies, manufacturing, and in research and development departments for a variety of organizations. Mechanical engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering or mechanical engineering technology.
What they do:
Develop new or improved designs for vehicle structural members, engines, transmissions, or other vehicle systems, using computer-assisted design technology. Direct building, modification, or testing of vehicle or components.
On the job, you would:
Conduct or direct system-level automotive testing.
Provide technical direction to other engineers or engineering support personnel.
Perform failure, variation, or root cause analyses.
Engineering and Technology
product and service development
Math and Science
arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics
movement of people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road
Arts and Humanities
thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem
reading work related information
noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it
People and Technology Systems
thinking about the pros and cons of different options and picking the best one
figuring out how a system should work and how changes in the future will affect it
communicate by speaking
listen and understand what people say
Ideas and Logic
make general rules or come up with answers from lots of detailed information
notice when problems happen
choose the right type of math to solve a problem
add, subtract, multiply, or divide
People interested in this work like activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions.
They do well at jobs that need:
Attention to Detail
You might use software like this on the job:
Analytical or scientific software
The MathWorks MATLAB
Computer aided design CAD software
Dassault Systemes SolidWorks
bachelor's degree or master's degree usually needed
Get started on your career:
New job opportunities are less likely in the future.