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ME Profession icon

Mechanical engineers are highly trained professionals that provide technical services throughout the world, and are employed in both the government and private sectors. Mechanical engineering is a broad profession with many disciplines, several of which are summarized below.

Major Disciplines Within Mechanical Engineering

Several of the many disciplines found within mechanical engineering are listed below, along with faculty experienced in each discipline. Feel free to contact one of the faculty for more information.

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Engineering Design

Engineering design encompasses the lifecycle of a product from an open-ended problem definition to the final technical drawings and documents used to manufacture the final product. Design engineers may also be involved in an iterative process of designing, prototyping, and testing a product before the product is released. Design engineers work closely with manufacturing engineers to design a product that is feasible and cost effective to produce.

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Manufacturing engineers use technical drawings and documents to design a manufacturing process that will produce a specified physical part from raw materials. Manufacturing engineers also work closely with design engineers to make sure the product being designed will not only be possible to manufacture, but efficient and cost effective to produce.

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Materials engineers are specialized at understanding the properties of various engineering materials and how they can be used in engineering design and products.

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Mechatronics and Robotics

Mechatronic engineers design products that use a programmable controller to move motors or other actuators in reaction to various sensory data and user controls. Roboticists apply mechatronics to design machinery that can perform tasks considered to be too repetitive, dangerous, or expensive for human operators to complete alone.

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Solid Mechanics

Solid mechanics is the study of how forces affect the motion and shape of solid bodies and structures. Mechanical engineers use solid mechanics to understand the forces and stresses that a product may undergo during use in order design a product that will perform as intended throughout a desired life cycle.

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Thermal Sciences and Fluid Mechanics

Mechanical engineers use the principles of thermodynamics and heat transfer to design and model the transfer of thermal energy in a system or product. Additionally they design and model power generating equipment (from small gasoline engines to large steam cycles in power plants) and refrigeration/air-conditioning and heat pump systems. Fluid mechanics is the study of how gaseous and liquid fluids react to various forces and how they can be used in engineering design.

Professional Licensure

Mechanical engineering is a respected profession which is charged foremost with maintaining public safety. Like those in the law and medical professions, many mechanical engineers in positions of responsibility are required to be professionally licensed.

Professional licensure is regulated at the state level, and licensure requirements may vary from state to state.

To become professionally licensed, all states require a minimum level of education, typically a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from an ABET accredited school, several years of professional experience working with licensed professional engineers, and satisfactory completion of a standard 8-hour exam.

Engineer in training (EIT)

The fastest route to professional licensure is to become an Engineer-in-Training (EIT) upon graduating with a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering. This is achieved by passing the national Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam during the final semester of one’s senior year and submitting an application to the state board of licensure . The BYU-Idaho mechanical engineering program encourages students to take the FE exam prior to graduation. Instructions on how to register for the FE exam can be found on the FE Exam page.

FE Exam

Professional engineer (PE)

To become a licensed professional engineer (PE), most states require four years of professional experience under the supervision of a licensed PE after becoming an EIT. Passage of the national PE exam and submittal of an application and fee to the state licensure board are also required. Attending graduate school may reduce the experience requirement. See state-specific rules for more information.

Profession Statistics

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics compiles data on the mechanical engineering profession including education requirements, average salary, job growth outlook and other information.

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