What does it take to become a mechanical engineer? A whole lot of different things, from a desire to tear things apart -- i.e. reverse engineering -- to a knack for creating and building things. There are hidden skills that also need to be developed -- such as right-brain imagination and written communication.
The education of a mechanical engineer starts young, with math and science classes, supported by extracurricular activities such as FIRST robotic competitions, science fairs, and home-based tinkering and creating. Polish your skills with physics and calculus in high school, as well as some computer and electronics schooling. Finally, you’ll need a degree from a university with a strong mechanical engineering program. Besides all that, it’s pretty easy.
Click on the image below to see the 15 steps you need to take in order to become a mechanical engineer.
Step 1: Study pre-calculus and, if possible, calculus in high school. Also take chemistry and physics. Physics and calculus are the backbone of engineering courses. Knowing these subjects cold is key to getting a mechanical engineering degree. Most types of engineering now require solid computer knowledge as well, so take as many computer classes as you can. (Source: exploringcs.org)
@bobjengr, I agree with you that "hands-on" is a really important component to becoming a well-rounded mechanical engineer. As a kid, I would always find myself taking things apart (and putting things back together again) to see how they worked. I really enjoyed fixing things that were broken and optimizing existing mechanisms to make them better than before.
Excellent post Rob. To me, the most important is slide number 15. You just have to stay with it. I graduated in 1966 with a BS in Mechanical Engineering. I'm still trying to catch up from the sleep I lost during those four and one-half years. I also agree that "hands-on" is absolutely critical to and EIT (engineer-in-training). My father used to say that I could break an anvil. I was always taking things apart to see how they worked. Again, great slides--very realistic.
Battar. I certainly agree with all three of your comments. The people who know, tell us children spend hour upon hour with social media; i.e. Facebook, U-Tube, Twitter, Foursquare, etc etc. I copied the following to indicate several basics:
"According to Nielsen, internet users continue to spend more time with social media sites than any other type of site. At the same time, the total time spent on social media in the U.S. across PC and mobile devices increased by 37 percent to 121 billion minutes in July 2012 compared to 88 billion minutes in July 2011."
To me, most of this is time unneceraliry spent and definitely unused for creative efforts. Potential engineers must have hands-on experience to keep enthusiasm alive and expanding. Just a thought.
Becoming a mechanical engineer requires you to have a broad based mind. It requires you to be ready to take things apart and bring them back together piece by piece. It comes naturally, when you are a kid who is very inquisitive about how certain machines run and what makes them operate efficiently. With this mindset combined with a knowledge of inventing things that help make what you are doing easier, you become a mechanical engineer.
Interesting point about drama, fm. Bob Noyce (of Intel fame) would have agreed with you. From a 48-page article called, "Two Young Men Who Went West": "At MIT, Noyce had sung in choral groups. Early in the summer of 1953, after he had received his Ph.D., he went over to Tufts College to sing and act in a program of musicals presented by the college."
I find it interesting because Noyce was legendary for his ability to distill ideas down to a simple, understanable concept. He was also well known for his abilities to get others to follow his lead. When the "entrepreneurial bug" bit, Noyce obviously knew what to do.
True John, And also I believe that the extracurricular activities will play a major role in the path way for the engineering case that it has the highest rate of enthusiasm in the mind of college students.
J-Allen, you are so very correct. At one employer I was able to learn how to run the machines in the shop. Not as fast as the machinists, but almost as accurately. The benefit from that is in understanding what information is needed to make parts without needing to use math to determine just how to position the tools to machine the parts. The immediate result is that my designs can be made faster and with fewer mistakes. That leads to faster deliveries and better profits. An added benefit for me is the good will of the machine shop folks, who find my parts less work to make. Also, far fewer complaints about making them.
FM, you are certainly correct about the communications skills. Communication is absolutely VITAL. Good ideas stuck in your head are not very useful, and the engineer unable to communicate is not very useful either.
I did a lot of learning the mechanical side of engineering because I realized that all of that electrical and electronic stuff was purely mechanical until the power switched on. So panels, components, and assemblies have to exist in the real world, since designs on paper only function in theory. It happens that having a better understanding of the mechanical aspects also did help my career, since I could understand much more than just the circuits. The combination, coupled with learning a bit about hydraulics and pneumatics, made me quite valuable, and I got to work on projects that were a lot more fun. And while making lots of money is generally good, being able to enjoy every day's work and have fun at it is even more important. At least that is my belief. Undoubtedly those who worship the dollar will not agree. They have a right to be wrong, I would not want to change that no matter what.
The first computer course that I took was "fortran 4 for system 360, except that we ran our programs on an 1140, I think it was. Probably 1967 or 1968.
And we were able to do simulations, but we used paper for them. A bit more work, but any errors in the model became apparent quite rapidly. So that was a benefit. Bob Pease would have approved of our modeling process, I am sure.
In many engineering workplaces, there’s a generational conflict between recent engineering graduates and older, more experienced engineers. However, a recent study published in the psychology journal Cognition suggests that both may have something to learn from another group: 4 year olds.
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