What does a mechanical engineer do?


Mechanical engineers research, design, develop and test machines, using principles of motion, energy and force. For example, mechanical engineers are generally involved in making of/working for:
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(like oil)
Engineering services
(like designing)
Consumer goods
(like washing machine)

Exciting new areas

Renewable energy (like wind, solar)
3D printing

Functions of a mechanical engineer

Major technical functions of a mechanical engineer in the industry are:

In this virtual tour you will understand how a mechanical engineer designs products by working on similar engineering assignments.

Assignments are quite simplified compared to real work so that high school students can solve them

Tour Compatibility: Tours can be viewed well only on laptops/desktops and not on mobile phones currently.

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Test (quality control)

Design methods for testing product to ensure it is functioning as required, conduct the tests and analyse the outcome.

Test a car engine to ensure it is giving required efficiency and is manufactured as per the design


• Diagnose and resolve mechanical equipment issues that arise during manufacturing

• Plan equipment servicing, repairing and replacement activities, assign resources for it, and supervise technical staff during such activities

Troubleshoot a faulty pump in the plant and prepare a schedule for regular checking of all pumps in the plant


Research ways to improve existing or invent new product/process, and evaluate them for development feasibility and market potential

• Developing a more aerodynamic structure for airplane
• Improving systems for harnessing wind energy

Note - In industry, roles may also involve combinations of above functions and different companies may use different terminology for functions.

What will I study in mechanical engineering?

Mechanical engineering undergraduate degree often involves following courses:
Fluid Mechanics

Study of fluids (liquids, gases) at rest and in motion, and the forces involved

Practical example
Fluid systems in aircrafts, pumps, brakes

Related high school topics

Pressure in fluids, streamline flow, Bernoulli’s principle, viscosity, Reynolds number, surface tension

Mechanics of Solids

Study of motion and deformation of solids under the action of forces

Practical example
Load carrying components for vehicles

Related high school topics

Elastic behaviour of solids, stress and strain, Hooke’s law, stress-strain curve, elastic moduli


Study of heat and temperature and their relation to energy and work

Practical example
Coffee-maker, air-conditioner

Related high school topics

Thermal equilibrium, heat, internal energy, work, laws of thermodynamics, specific heat capacity, thermodynamic state variables & equation of state, heat engines, refrigerators, heat pumps, Carnot engine

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Heat Transfer

Study of exchange of thermal energy between physical systems

Practical example
Coffee-maker, air-conditioner

Related high school topics

Temperature & heat, thermal expansion, specific heat capacity, calorimetry, change of state, Newton’s law of cooling

Materials Science and Engineering

Study of properties and applications of materials such as metals, ceramics,

Practical example
Materials for spacecrafts to withstand extreme temperatures

Machine Design and Drawing (Computer Aided Design)

CAD is the use of computer systems to create, modify, analyse and optimise
design of machine elements

Practical example
Design drawing needs to be made for every machine element (like nuts, bolts etc.) before it can be manufactured

Internal Combustion (IC) Engines

Study of different types of IC engines

Practical example
IC engines used in automobiles, motorcycles

Production Techniques

Study of techniques for production of various machine elements and analysis of production defects

Practical example
Welding - to join two pieces of metal together

Kinematics and Dynamics of Machinery

Study of various mechanisms used in machines

Practical example
Gears used in cars

Related high school topics

Position, displacement, velocity, acceleration, force, rotational motion

Mechanical Vibrations

Vibration is a phenomenon where oscillations occur about an equilibrium point

Practical example
Many equipments (like motors, engines etc.) are designed with measures to minimise unwanted vibrations

Related high school topics

Simple harmonic motion, forced oscillations

Prime Movers and Fluid Machines

Study of pumps, turbines, compressors

Practical example
Turbines used in power plants to generate electricity

Note - Courses may vary with university. Undergraduate engineering programs also include fundamental courses like physics, chemistry, calculus, which are often common to all engineering careers.


Understanding of below concepts and equations (wherever mentioned) is required

Pascal’s law

Pascal’s law states that a change in pressure at any point in a fluid in a closed container is transmitted undiminished to all points in the fluid.

By Pascal’s law:

P1 = P2

F1/A1 = F2/A2 (Since pressure equals force per unit area)

(where P = pressure, F = force, A = area)

Friction force

Kinetic friction force between two solid surfaces in contact is the force that opposes the relative motion of those surfaces.

f = μN

(where f = friction force, μ = coefficient of friction, N = normal force)


Torque is the cross product of position vector (from the axis of rotation to the point where force is applied) and the force vector (which tends to produce rotational motion).

τ = r x F

(where τ = torque vector, r = position vector, F = force vector)


When a body is subjected to a deforming force, a restoring force is developed in the body. This restoring force per unit area is known as stress.