If you marvel at the Egyptian pyramids, the Golden Gate Bridge and New York skyscrapers and wonder what it took to design them, you may be geared for a career in mechanical engineering. This branch of engineering involves the practical application of mechanical and thermal sciences; engineers research, design, test and manufacture products across a wide range of industries. The possibilities are almost endless and include power generation, noise control, bio-mechanics and pollution abatement.
Product engineers design many of the products we use on a daily basis. In the automotive industry, these include braking systems, power trains, batteries for electric cars, low-emission engines and safety systems. They typically work with other designers and engineers to determine how to mount these products in different model vehicles and the best way to manufacture them.
Production supervisors are involved in the production and manufacture of products. In the pharmaceutical industry, they oversee the manufacture of drugs and medicines in sterile environments. Others might ensure the production of processed foods meets quality standards. Generally, they are also looking for different methods for increasing efficiency without sacrificing quality.
Design engineers often work with people who have specialties in other fields. Some work with doctors and other scientists to design medical devices such as hip and knee replacements and heart valves. These engineers typically develop specialties and once one medical device is developed, the engineer will go on to help develop another. For example, design engineers who help design knee replacements may also design shoulder replacements.
Professors at engineering schools teach bachelor's and master's degree candidates at universities and colleges. These mechanical engineers have advanced degrees in a specialty such as thermal or fluid dynamics. Many also consult with industries on various projects on a contract basis or write engineering textbooks.