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.