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What is mechanical engineering?

Mechanical engineering is the area of engineering that combines different disciplines and principles, such as static and dynamic mechanics, thermodynamics, trigonometry, quantum mechanics, fluid mechanics (air and water), waves and vibrations, etc. The aim is to design, analyze, create, and maintain the mechanical systems available in humankind’s daily life: vehicles, machinery, tools, electromechanical systems, and more.

The work mechanical engineers do focuses on projects for manufacturing, building, installing, operating, restoring, and refurbishing or demolishing:

  • Mechanical equipment.
  • Structures.
  • Energy installations.
  • Industrial plants.

Like any other branch of engineering, this discipline has one basic principle: solving technical problems by designing objects that are useful to people. In the case of mechanical engineering, this is done through the study of physical principles such as the conservation of mass, elements’ energy, heat, and force.

What is mechanical engineering for?

Its main functions include:

  • Designing and installing mechanical equipment, applying an efficient logic and vision of material management, costs, and execution time. 
  • Designing and manufacturing machinery for energy production and transformation.
  • Identifying and resolving problems related to the transformation and use of energy and thermodynamics.
  • Project planning and monitoring, ranging from machine maintenance to process and resource optimization. 
  • Implementing software and design tools to create, modify, analyze, and optimize machinery systems and designs.

What are the branches or sub-disciplines of mechanical engineering? 

While mechanical engineering is primarily based on mathematics, calculus, and physics, it is a multidisciplinary branch that requires different skills closely related to other areas of engineering. 

For instance, industrial engineering involves the design, manufacture, and production of industrial structures and mechanisms; electrical engineering, the generation and transportation of electrical energy; civil engineering, building structures and facilities; chemical engineering, analyzing chemical processes of elements. 

A mechanical engineer has several options to practice his profession. The main ones include:

  • Aeronautical engineering, which is responsible for designing air transportation, as well as the manufacture and installation of parts. It also focuses on the laws of aerodynamics, the response of solid bodies in motion. 
  • Naval engineering, which oversees the design, manufacture, and construction of engines for vehicles and floating installations, focusing on the study of the transformation and use of electrical energy to activate mechanisms.
  • Automotive engineering, which entails the development and proper operation of land vehicles.
  • Fluid engineering, which studies the behavior of fluids (chemical liquids or gases) when they are at rest or moving.
  • Robotic engineering, which involves building robots for the good of society. It is closely related to electrical engineering. 
  • Hydraulic engineering, the study, design, and execution of waterways.

What is the sustainable approach to mechanical energy like?

As mentioned above, mechanical engineering’s functions include the study and development of machines, equipment, and installations. In this process, economic, social, and ecological aspects are taken into consideration for the good of society and the environment in response to sustainable development. 

Mechanical engineering is mainly based on the application and development of machinery for generating and transforming energy that is used in useful processes. Through scientific and technological knowledge, the field also foregrounds the study and selection of materials that are environmentally friendly, taking advantage of natural resources for energy generation. 

Optimal material selection determines the strength, durability, and efficiency of a sustainable system so that it is possible to reduce the carbon footprint and the negative impact industries have. 

One branch of mechanical engineering, though, is completely focused on obtaining energy through natural and renewable sources like the sun, water, and air. Through these, it is possible to reduce pollution compared to traditional fossil fuel energy production processes.

Mechanical engineers get involved in order to develop technology that makes energy savings in industrial processes possible, therefore making them increasingly efficient. 

Power was more important in past decades, not considering fuel consumption and its polluting implications. Now, however, the aim is to design more efficient engines that make better use of fuel and contribute to lowering polluting emissions. 

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