Mechanical engineers design, develop, inspect, and test mechanical devices and technologies in many industries.
What does a Mechanical Engineer do?
Mechanical engineers design, develop, inspect, and test mechanical devices and technologies in many industries, including manufacturing, mining, construction, water, power, health and transport.
As a mechanical engineer you would:
- discuss problems to be solved with manufacturing departments, sub-contractors, suppliers and customers
- produce engineering specifications or design drawings
- draw up plans for new ideas or customised parts or machines using computer aided design (CAD) software
- develop, test and evaluate theoretical designs and record results
- analyse test results and compare with specifications and test objectives
- oversee installation of parts or machinery to make sure they run as intended
- ensure a product can be made reliably and will perform consistently in specified operating environments
- inspect, maintain and test mechanical equipment
- plan and design new production processes
- estimate labour costs, equipment life, and space required for new machinery
- use computer software for mathematical modelling and project management
- work closely with other engineering professionals.
Mechanical engineers provide efficient solutions to the development of processes and products, ranging from small component designs to large plant, machinery or vehicles.
Key skills and interests
To become a mechanical engineer, you would need:
- a high level of IT skills, particularly in computer aided design (CAD)
- good technical skills
- to enjoy practical, hands-on work
- good oral and written communication skills
- the ability to create and interpret technical drawings
- good problem solving skills
- ability to analyse and evaluate data
- an awareness of health and safety
- good teamwork and project management skills.
Working hours and conditions
You would normally work a standard number of hours, Monday to Friday, with occasional overtime to meet deadlines at busy times. In a manufacturing environment, you may be required to work shifts, which may include nights and weekends.
Mechanical engineers work in offices, factories, industrial engineering facilities, power plants, large facilities such as hospitals, and on construction and mining sites. The work can be noisy and dusty.
How to become an Mechanical Engineer?
Entry Level Education
To become a mechanical engineer you usually have to complete a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering or mechanical engineering technology. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your senior secondary school certificate or equivalent. English, mathematics, chemistry and physics would be appropriate subjects to study prior to university.
Employment of mechanical engineers is projected to grow about as fast as the average.
Most industries rely on some form of mechanical systems and mechanical engineering is perhaps the most diverse of the engineering disciplines. As a result, the growth rate will be related to the industries in which mechanical engineers are employed. Job prospects will be very good in engineering services firms, and may be best for those who stay informed regarding the most recent advances in technology.