What is Mechanical Engineering? (Summary)

Engineering is an expansive field. There are various engineering branches from which a student can choose. These subfields include mechanical, civil, aerospace, biotech, electrical, material, chemical, nuclear a, among others. Engineering requires scientific as well as mathematics skills. Mechanical engineering employs many of these subcategories and combines them.

Mechanical engineering involves the application of the problem-solving techniques. It also applies the principles of engineering from design as well as manufacturing to the marketplace for various objects. Often mechanical engineers study and analyze their work using various principles such as energy, motion, and force. They ensure that all designs function efficiently, safely, and reliably, at an affordable cost.

What is Mechanical Engineering?

It is worth mentioning that the field of mechanical engineering requires a thorough understanding of fundamental areas. These areas include dynamics, mechanics, thermodynamics, structural analysis, materials science, as well as electricity.

Apart from these core principles, most mechanical engineers leverage a variety of tools. These tools include computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), computer-aided design (CAD), and product life cycle management. These tools are crucial in order to design, study and analyze industrial equipment. Equipment can include things like a variety of areas. These include machinery, manufacturing plants, heating and cooling systems, aircrafts, transport systems, watercraft, medical devices, robotics, weapons, and other devices. This is why it’s the branch of engineering which entails the designing, production, as well as operation of machinery.

Why is Mechanical Engineering Important?

Mechanical engineering makes a difference. This is because careers in mechanical engineering focus on developing technologies and products to meet human needs. Note that virtually every service or product in modern life has likely been touched by the field. In some form or way, a mechanical engineer is behind the world’s most influential technologies. Much of the world’s leading technologies come from individuals with mechanical engineering backgrounds.

The sheer breadth and diversity of the mechanical engineering field allows students a number of different career options.

Irrespective of the specific path these students envision for themselves following their graduation, they acquire many skills. Their in depth education would have offered them a ton of options. All the creative thinking and skills which allow them to work in the field are now theirs.. Many students go on to design and develop exciting products or systems. Some use the analytical skills and tools they learned to attain specific design goals. Some also choose to use the skill and ability to overcome various constraints. Teamwork requires multiple people to design, develop, and market a system. As a result, these invaluable skills and experiences could also help launch a career. Many go on to work in law, medicine, consulting, banking, management, finance, and so on.

Some History on Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical engineering, as you can imagine, has always existed, for example, with the popular emergence of key works on mechanics as well as the development and design of the first machines in medieval China, ancient Greece, and Antiquity. The first steam engine dates back to ancient Greece, in particular with the notable work of Heon of Alexandria.

During the Golden Age of Islam (between 7th and 15th century), mechanical design underwent many improvements. The famous book of Al-Jazari is one of the best examples; it was written in 1206 and is known as the Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices.

During the seventeenth century, vital breakthroughs and advances in the foundations of modern mechanical engineering took place in England. During this time, Sir Isaac Newton came up with Newton’s Laws of Motion as well as developed Calculus, which is the mathematical basis of physics. Although Newton was quite reluctant and hesitant to publish his works for several years, he was eventually persuaded to publish by his famous colleagues, like Sir Edmond Halley, to the immense benefit of mankind. During this time period Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was also credited with creating Calculus.

Why The Steam Engine Matters to What is Mechanical Engineering

In addition, the invention and refinement of the important steam engine in the latter parts of the eighteenth century provided a vital source of power, especially for the Industrial Revolution. It also gave a big impetus to the design and development of equipment and machinery of various types. This is why a new and important major classification of mechanical engineering that dealt with machines and tools developed, and in 1847 it received formal recognition in the founding of the popular Institution of Mechanical Engineers in Birmingham, England.

Note that during the early nineteenth century industrial revolution, a variety of machine tools were made in England, Scotland and Germany. This is what allowed mechanical engineers to form a separate discipline within engineering. These engineers brought manufacturing machines with them as well as the engines in order to power them. In Europe, Johann von Zimmermann (1820 to 1901) founded the first and leading factory to grind machines in 1848 in Chemnitz, Germany.

Mechanical engineering as a field has evolved considerably from the initial practice by mechanics of an art largely based on trial and error to the careful application by professional engineers of the core scientific method in design, research, and production. Keep in mind that the demand for more efficiency is constantly increasing the quality of work that is expected from mechanical engineers and requires a higher degree of education as well as training.

Branches of Mechanical Engineering

Acoustical Engineering

Mainly based on the study of vibration and sound, acoustical engineering centers on the science of vibration and sound, the application of acoustics, and their relation to technology. The core principle of this field is based on the analysis, design, and control of sound. In loose terms, it can also be defined as the science of building and designing machinery and structures. A lot of modern buildings take into consideration sound pollution. Too much noise carrying through office spaces or work areas is a bad thing. This often leads to distractions that can then turn into problems. Thanks to acoustical engineering, buildings can now dampen space with simple engineering considerations.

Aerospace Engineering

Aerospace engineering centers around the branch of engineering that deals with the development of spacecraft, aircraft, and defense systems. This branch of engineering is upheld as the study of navigation, aerodynamic fluid flow, robotics, and deals with the instrumentation and communication of said field. The design of satellites, missiles, and spacecraft is the core principle behind the study of aerospace engineering.

Automotive Engineering

This specialized and important branch of mechanical engineering mainly deals with various kinds of vehicles that ply on roads instead of sea or air. Also, it may involve several sub-parameters and they, in turn, need specialized skills and techniques of their own like design engineer, safety engineer, and so on. These experts take care of various aspects and elements of automotive engineering, especially during its manufacturing, design, and maintenance.

Just like marine engineering and aerospace engineering, automotive engineering is an aspect of vehicle engineering that involves integrating elements of electrical, mechanical, electronic, safety and software engineering and their application to manufacturing, design, and operation of automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, and their different engineering subsystems.

Control Systems Engineering

Control systems engineering is an engineering field that integrates automatic control theory to design systems with expected behaviors in control environments. This field of engineering uses detectors and sensors to measure the output performance of these controlled processes, and these measurements are used to ascertain corrective feedback to achieve the expected performance.


Cybernetics is the science of control theory and communication and approach to studying regulatory systems, their possibilities, constraints, structures, and controls. It mainly focuses on the study of the mechanical-electrical communication systems, nervous system, and the brain. In past times, it functioned as an experimental epistemology focused on the interaction between an observer and their environment. The human connection to technology is prevalent in our society. That being said, technology still works apart from humans at their core. For that reason, cybernetics look to connect humans to technology in innovative ways. This addresses concerns of accessibility, as well as communication.

Heat Transfer

Heat Transfer is a field of thermal engineering that is concerned with the use, exchange, conversion, and generation of thermal heat between physical systems. Sometimes heat transfer is also considered the transmission of mass in varying chemical species. Heat transfer can be classified into various mechanisms such as thermal convection, transfer of heat mechanisms, thermal conduction, and thermal radiation. As new technologies provide renewable energy, heat transfer can vary in newer systems.

Mechatronics and Robotics

This is another important branch of mechanical engineering. Mechatronics can be defined as a combination of electronics and mechanics. It’s a key interdisciplinary branch of modern mechanical engineering, software engineering and electrical engineering that is concerned mainly with integrating mechanical and electrical engineering in order to create high quality hybrid systems. Machines, in this way, can be easily automated via the use of servo-mechanisms, electric motors, as well as other key electrical systems in conjunction with specialized software.

A popular example of an effective mechatronics system is a modern CD-ROM drive. Keep in mind that mechanical systems close and open the drive, move the laser and spin the CD, while a special optical system can read the data on a CD and also converts it to bits. Robotics involves the application of mechatronics in order to develop robots that are usually used in many industries to perform various tasks that are unpleasant, dangerous, or repetitive in nature. To develop a robot, engineers typically employ kinematics (that determines the robot’s precise range of motion) as well as mechanics (that determines the stresses within a robot).

Marine Engineering

This vital branch of mechanical engineering deals with the operation as well as maintenance of propulsion machines and other machines that are on board ships. Note that the machinery on one ship can range from main propulsion plant and auxiliary generators to purifiers, boilers, pumps and so forth. The Navy employs a number of mechanical engineers to help modernize older ships. They also work to build new ships with better technology on board. Although many mechanical engineers can work outside of the military, many enlist and work for the various branches.

Structural Analysis

Structural analysis is an important branch of mechanical engineering (as well as civil engineering) that is devoted to understanding and examining how and why objects tend to fail and to fix or rectify these objects and improve their performance. Keep in mind that structural failures usually occur in 2 general modes: fatigue failure and static failure. 

Static failure happens when, on being loaded (and having a force exerted) the object that is being analyzed and evaluated either breaks down or is plastically deformed, depending on the specific criterion for failure.

On the other hand, fatigue failure happens when the object under examination fails after numerous unloading and repeated loading cycles. Keep in mind that fatigue failure usually occurs due to imperfections inherent in the object, such as a microscopic or tiny crack on the object’s surface. So much of mechanical engineering is trial and error. Even experts fail numerous times before landing on a given solution.

Mechanical Engineering History
Mechanical Engineering: History and Branches

Historical summary of Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical engineering has some subfields which include, mechanics; it is the filed entailing the study of forces and their effect on things. It predicts the how various objects would react subjected to forces.

Kinematics- it entails learning about the motion of bodies. For instance, the pistons in a car apply the principle of kinematics. Sometimes, the smallest parts of a machine come down to the kinematics.

Robotics- it studies the collaboration of various engineering fields such as software engineering, mechanical and electrical engineering to come up with the fancy robots. The field of robotics is growing even to this day.

Structural analysis- mechanical collaborates with civil engineering seeking to understand why objects fail. It studies why an objects break.

Thermodynamics- it studies the application of energy through the building of power plants and other things that involve energy transformation

How to Pick a Subfield in Mechanical Engineering

It is a tough field where a student has to choose from many available options. You should pick it based on your personal interests. Engineers continue to become increasingly important in our rapidly growing society. They range from food to space engineers.

The commonly adopted engineering filed in the world is mechanical engineering. It has various sub-branches which are automotive, aerospace, biomedical and naval engineering. Aerospace refers to the one on which missiles, spacecraft, helicopters, and satellites design is taken from, created and tested. Engineering plays a vital role in improving living standards through innovation of a variety of things to solve world problems.

Among the disciplines of engineering, mechanical engineering is one of the oldest and broadest. It is a popular degree among students. It deals with design, production, analysing and the use of tools and machines. Mainly, it is concerned with production and application of mechanical power.

For instance, you learn about thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, and statics. Auto industries such as car and energy filed offer this students job opportunity. You work for companies that seek to create green energy. There are a lot of fields that hire mechanical engineers to address modern problems. If a company wants to be greener in their production, then they often hire mechanical engineers.

What Goes Into the Study of Mechanical Engineering?

Studying mechanical engineering calls for in-depth knowledge on various math disciplines such as algebra, calculus, geometry, and trigonometry. Vast experience in chemistry, biology, and physics is also an advantage. All that forms the basis for studying thermodynamics.

In mechanical fields, the engineers deal with heating and cooling systems, boats, airplanes, motors, medical machinery among others. It started during the industrial revolution and continued to evolve over the years.

Advancements in the field of mechanical engineering happen daily due to growth in technology and increase in various creations. Space for creativity is always there in this world, all you need is to acquire proper training and gain ethical analysis to be successful.

Proper training is necessary for a successful societal growth. However, there are many options when it comes to jobs for mechanical engineers.

The engineers are always on demand; various options are available to individuals with the right skills and education. Entering the field of mechanical engineering is an excellent choice. Mechanical engineering has a significant impact on our lives even if we may notice it. When you ride on a train, switch a light, crossing a bridge among others daily activities are all based on mechanical engineering.


Mechanical engineering is the culmination of a variety of academic fields. Knowledge can come from a lot of different places and people. In mechanical engineering, the hard work that builds the base of any major project requires well-rounded thinking. Mechanical engineering students work hard to master both science and math. Not to mention, they often learn specialized skills determined by their interests.

Mechanical engineering is a growing field. Thanks to human progress, the need for better engineering is always present. There are a lot of concerns the modern world is posing to humanity. With the future of the world in our hands, engineering will help keep us thriving. Internationally, mechanical engineers work hard to answer life’s big questions. Mechanical engineers work on everything from buildings to life technologies.

How to Learn More About Mechanical Engineering

If you’re curious about more information on mechanical engineering, check out our articles on the entire field. You might find something you want to read about further. Plus, feel free to explore academic journals and popular articles on Dave4Math.