Section I. Define the selected engineering field including areas of expertise in the field and types of work done.
The field I have chosen is mechanical engineering. It is interesting for me, as it represents application of the physics and materials science principles for design, analysis, maintenance and manufacturing of mechanical systems (“Mechanical Engineering” n.d.). In this branch mechanical power and heat are produced and used for production, design and operation of tools and machines. It is also known to be among the oldest engineering disciplines with particularly broad scope of interest.
Mechanical engineers design and develop everything that can be classified as a machine, which is why their profession is extremely interesting and important for the development of our society and the world science as well. Moreover, design of the other products is also influenced by them, such as production of light bulbs, shoes and doors. Due to the vast scope of work, there are different specializations engineers can choose, the most popular of them being robotics, automotive/transportation, manufacturing and air conditioning.
The main areas of expertise in this field are kinematics, mechanics, materials science, thermodynamics, and structural analysis (“Engineers” n.d.). The core principles are used along with special tools, such as product lifecycle management and computer-aided engineering. If they are properly applied, it become possible to analyze and design medical devices, industrial machinery and equipment, cooling and heating systems, manufacturing plants, aircraft, transport systems, robotics, watercraft, etc.
The field of mechanical engineering started its development in the 18th century, when Europe was facing the industrial revolution, but the first traces of it can be found several thousand years ago all around the world. In the 19th century it emerged as a science along with the powerful developments in the field of physics. Since that time mechanical engineering has undergone numerous changes, as due to its nature it has to constantly incorporate the latest developments in technology.
In the USA the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) has been functioning since 1880, which makes it the third professional engineering organization after the American Institute of Mining Engineers (1871) and the American Society of Civil Engineers (1852) (“ASME History” n.d.). Mechanical engineering courses at schools were first introduced in 1817 (the US Military Academy), and since that time education in this field has had a strong science and mathematics basis.
Mechanical engineering degrees are offered throughout the world and mostly they take four to five years, resulting in B.Sc, B.ScEng, B.Tech, B.Eng or B.A.Sc. In the USA the majority of programs are accredited by ABET – the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, owing to which similar course requirements are observed throughout the country. According to ABET, mechanical engineering students have to work professionally both in mechanical and thermal systems areas. The courses students have to take usually differ according to the specific program, but the fundamental subjects usually remain the same: measurement and instrumentation; dynamics and statics; electrotechnology; solid mechanics and strength of materials; mechanism design (including dynamics and kinematics); manufacturing engineering, processes or technology; automotive engines, combustion, fuels; pneumatics and hydraulics and others.
Section II. List specific core (junior and/or senior) courses which are of the most interest to you and why. Also include three schools which offer the program.
In order to become a successful mechanical engineer, it is necessary to become proficient in many different areas, and among them there are those that are the most important for successful professional development. In the course there are certain core subjects that I particularly enjoy and I am sure that my interest in them will make the studying path easier and more pleasant to me.
As of today, one of my favorite subjects is classical physics. It is practically impossible to become a mechanical engineer without strong background in the area of physics. My interest in this subject was one of the main reasons why I have chosen mechanical engineering as the work of my life.
Another subject that I particularly enjoy is mathematics. I like the fact that in this science it is very important to apply logical reasoning and every solution of problem improves my skills, which is why it is evident that what I do brings particular results. I understand that I have to work on my skills a lot to become a good engineer and I will try to do my best to succeed in this field.
Also I like the courses that are directly related to the field of engineering, like engineering problem solving. When attending them and getting to know more and more about my chosen field, I see how I develop as professional and how interesting it will be for me to graduate and apply my knowledge in practice.
Today there are many different schools that offer mechanical engineering programs, each of them having its own advantages and drawbacks. Among the most popular ones there are Stanford (“Stanford Mechanical Engineering” n.d.), Berkeley’s College of Engineering (“Berkeley Mechanical Engineering” n.d.) and Mechanical Engineering Department at Columbia (“Mechanical Engineering Department Overview” n.d.).
Section III. Typical salaries and three different position descriptions including education/experience requirements for selected engineering field.
In the field of mechanical engineering salaries vary on the basis of the same factors, as in the other professional area. Work experience and the size of the company influence it greatly and there are also differences between different states and cities. Average salary in the USA is $44,518-$85,045, the size of bonuses is usually between $509 and $9,854. The starting salary is $39,403-$66,195. If a person has 1 to 4 years of experience, it increases to $43,220-$72,178; between 5 and 9 years – to $50,744-$85,840; between 10 and 19 years – to $52,312-$102,451. If work experience exceeds 20 years, then the salary is between $58,527 and $127,734. Salaries are usually higher in companies with a large number of employees (if there are more than 50,000 employees, the salary is between $52,465 and $96,413, while in a small company with 10-49 employees it is $40,998-$78,834) (“Salary for Mechanical Engineer Jobs” 2011).
As an example of job positions in this field, I decided to review and analyze the following ones: Design Engineer at Volkswagen of America, Mechanical Engineer at Corning and Facilities Manager at Miscrosoft. The first position at Volkswagen presupposes development of technical and design solutions that can assist drivers in convenient, safe and intelligent interaction with in-vehicle information (“Design engineer” n.d.). At Corning the position is focused on implementation of cost effective and robust automation and process machine systems at the company’s plants (“Mechanical engineer” n.d.). Facilities manager at Microsoft will be responsible for proper execution of all the activities related to maintaining and building utilities that are necessary for uninterrupted Digital services and other spheres of the company’s work (“Facilities manager job” n.d.). All the positions require profound skills that are necessary for successful work in this sphere, as well as perfect command of the modern software packages and computers on the whole. BS/MS degrees in Mechanical Engineering are also obligatory.
Section IV. Answers to the following four questions from an interview (face-to-face, phone, or email) with an engineer. You must provide the contact information for this person. You may add additional questions to this list.
Interview was conducted via email with one of mechanical engineers in the Hewlett-Packard Company – Paul Hughes ().
a) What is your position title, product(s) description, and how long have you been an engineer? Hi, I have been working as a mechanical engineer at the Hewlett-Packard Company for 5 years already and I enjoy my work very much owing to a welcoming an facilitating atmosphere created in the office and interesting tasks I get every day. Before HP I worked as an engineer for 8 years and graduated from the Mechanical Engineering Department of the University of Texas with MS degree. At HP I am responsible for dynamic and static design and analysis of mechanical equipment, systems and packages.
b) What is a typical day like? What are the four or five tasks you spend the most time on? I try to make every day of my work the most productive and interesting. Thus, I can say that the first important task that I complete on a daily basis is planning of my day. In this way I can manage my time effectively. Then, I prioritize my tasks and start competing them one by one. Also every day I try to allocate some time for developing of my skills, getting to know about the latest developments in my field of expertise. Another important activity is meeting with my supervisors who analyze my work. At the end of each day I analyze what I succeeded to do and what failed and on the basis of this analysis I draw up a rough plan for the next day.
c) What are the best and worst things about your being an engineer? The best thing, to my mind, is that I enjoy what I do greatly and that I cope with what I have to do perfectly. That makes me really proud of myself. The worst thing is maybe that I will not be able to find out everything I want, as there is no time for everything – I have to follow my plan.
d) Any advice for a freshman engineering student? The best advice that I have also received when I started working in this field: enjoy your life and profession and never waste your time doing unnecessary things. It is extremely important to value your time, so make sure that you learn how to plan your time and prioritize activities. IT will help you in all the spheres of life, not only in the professional area.
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“Berkeley Mechanical Engineering.” Berkeley.edu. Berkeley, n.d. Web. 11 Oct. 2011.
“Design Engineer.” RecruitingCenter.net. Volkswagen, n.d. Web. 12 Oct 2011.
“Engineers.” Bls.gov. Bureau of Labor Statistics, n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2011.
“Facilities Manager Job.” Microsoft-Careers.com. Miscrosoft, n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2011.
“Mechanical Engineering.” Dictionary.com. Dictionary, n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2011.
“Mechanical Engineering Department Overview.” Columbia.edu. Columbia, n.d. Web. 11 Oct. 2011.
“Mechanical Engineer.” CorningCareers.Corning.com. Corning, n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2011.
“Salary for Mechanical Engineer Jobs.” PayScale.com. PayScale, 10 Oct. 2011. Web. 13 Oct. 2011.
“Stanford Mechanical Engineering.” Stanford.edu. Stanford, n.d. Web. 11 Oct. 2011.