What do they do?
The core functionality of Mechanical Engineers include:
Production: these engineers make objects
Design of mechanical equipment: professionals in this line work on, say, failure prevention and performance design;
Thermal and fluid sciences: those in this area design (air-conditioners, fans, turbines, steam boilers and power plants) for performance
Maintenance: continuous checking and upkeep of functionality of the products/ objects designed
The concepts that Mechanical Engineers work with include mechanics, thermodynamics, robotics, kinematics, structural analysis, fluid mechanics and many others, which are applied in the process of designing different types of engines, power plant equipment, heating and cooling systems, motor vehicles, manufacturing units, aircraft and aerospace parts and a vast assortment of industrial Besides designing new mechanical systems, Mechanical engineers also test, maintain and manufacture them.
Sudipto Mukherjee, Mehra Chair professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, IIT Delhi
, reiterates the point, “The wooden board of this door (in his room) is made by compressing the wood. Everything, except buildings — the work of civil engineers — is the work of mechanical engineering. A car used to be the result of about 90 per cent mechanical engineering. Now, it’s about 30 per cent electrical and 70 per cent mechanical engineering.”
Mechanical engineers are involved in the design, analysis or testing, manufacture and maintenance of anything that has moveable components. It can be a tough job. “They are required to work in adverse conditions —where temperatures or noise levels can be high,” says M Anwar, India entry adviser, American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) India. “They also deal with financial and management professionals while designing new products, analysing their marketability and financial viability. They are responsible for seeing that a plant runs smoothly and that the machines are maintained well.”
Given the broad applications it has, this ‘mother’ branch is described as an “all-weather” and “all-purpose” field that allows practitioners to enter a variety of sectors, from the automobile and electrical industries to bio-medical equipment manufacturers and energy companies. “This is a perennial branch. Eighty per cent of the technology has been there for the past 150 years,” says Mukherjee.
Anwar adds, “Today’s mechanical engineers are involved in the management of people and resources as well as the development and use of new materials and technologies, especially computer-aided engineering.”
They also contribute to processes such as carbon dioxide trapping to mitigate climate change. “They are in demand in well-paid segments like automobile manufacturing, space centres, aerospace etc,” says Anwar.
According to Sagar Maji, professor of mechanical engineering, Delhi Technological University (DTU)
, this branch of engineering is the third most sought-after in India. “In highly rated Indian institutes, mechanical is first choice for about 10 per cent of the students,” says Maji, who is also the former head of the nodal centre for National Technical Manpower Information Systems at the Delhi College of Engineering (now DTU). “This is because of lack of awareness about opportunities,” he adds.
During IIT Delhi admissions, seats in computer science
and electrical engineering
are filled first, but in other institutes, “in the past few years, mechanical engineering has become number one”, Mukherjee says.
Typical day in the life of a Mechanical Engineer
While the work policy of organisations vary from industry to industry and geography to geography, we provide you with a generic overview of what the work of a Mechanical Engineer would be like. Please bear in mind that there will be deadline based times, when you will have to spend longer hours.
The average day of a mechanical engineer working in the R&D division of an automobile company:
7.30 am: Leave for office
8 am: Breakfast at office canteen
8.15 am: Look at the day’s activities in the week plan
8.45 pm: Departmental meeting with section head to discuss problems, progress, field complaints or testing issues
9.15 am: Tea break
9.25 am to 1.15 pm: Talk to design and testing teams about the points discussed in the morning meeting. Check drawings of parts under development, made by CAD (computer-aided design) engineers. Go through the simulation and analysis report prepared by design engineers (who are mostly mechanical engineers and some auto engineers)
1.15 pm: Lunch
1.45 pm: Visit testing lab. Monitor progress of products (e.g. steering, chassis under
6.30 pm: Leave for the day
Pros & Cons about this career
- Mechanical engineering covers all aspects. As a result, you will get job opportunities in many different industries
Your work may contribute to human development/comfort as well as environment degradation
- Could face high temperature or noise levels at work
Work load is usually high in a very competitive atmosphere
Skills and Education needed
Affinity for machinery
Analytical skills & practical mind
Attention to detail
Solid foundation in Mathematics, Science and logical reasoning also helps
How do I get there?
Take up Science in Class XI & XII (Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics)
Acquire a B. Tech Degree (4 years)
Or study for three years Diploma course from Polytechnic (four years part time)
Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ technician engineers and the associate membership (sections A and B) examinations: Clearing this will give you a qualification equivalent to a diploma from a state polytechnic or a degree from an Indian University.
The Institution of Engineering (India), too, conducts such an examination.
Getting the best jobs depends on the level and ‘market value’ of a mechanical engineer’s credentials. M Anwar, entry adviser, American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) India, says that for engineering research or design positions, it is “necessary” to earn a PG degree from a good institution.