Mechanical engineering is one of the few careers that is always in demand, a challenging profession that pays well. This is why you should study M.E.
In recent years there has been a consistent worry about the lack of so-called S.T.E.M. graduates. S.T.E.M. stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and the gap in the market for this type of young professionals is evident by the high salaries and demand for them. The benefits aren’t just monetary, though, as we will see later on in this article.
Mechanical engineering is a very broad field of study, with an even broader application in industry. Essentially a mechanical engineer is responsible for the implementation and manufacturing of anything that can be manufactured. That includes parts, entire assemblies and products, even machines that manufacture products. Due to the discipline’s broad application, the knowledge a mMechanical engineering student acquires is equally diverse in breadth. Here are a few more reasons why you should become a mechanical engineer.
Diverse knowledge base
The advantages of having a broad range of skills and knowledge allows you to work in multiple fields. Mechanical engineers can work in such disparate industries as the automotive, aerospace and biotechnology. This not only allows you a huge choice of employment options upon graduation, but it also gives you the ability to shift jobs easily and even switch industries. Generally, a mechanical engineer’s career path will begin with an entry level position, but after you have acquired a minimum of five years’ experience, you will be able to transition into a role with more responsibility and a higher salary.
After five years’ experience, most mechanical engineers will transition into either a more specialised role or a senior design role. According to Payscale the salary increase a mid-career engineer can expect, is a respectable £5,000.
One of the key requirements to become an engineer is a propensity for maths and physics as the degree relies heavily on those two subjects. Beyond that, although it might not be a requirement, academic excellence during your secondary school education is recommended. This is due to how competitive it is to enter engineering programs. If you like mathematics and physics, then the best way to gain an advantage over the competition is to participate in academic competitions, science fairs and take pre-University or University preparatory courses.
Some of the best Universities in Britain for mechanical engineering are:
- Imperial College of London
You will need an entry standard of 600, a triple A*, A Levels in science and maths and to complete the UCAS application which you can find here. There are very specific deadlines for the submission of the application which you can see on the UCAS link above.
Imperial College of London, has specific requirements for entry into Mechanical Engineering, which include the general requirement for entry: three suitable subjects with A*A*A including A*in Maths, A* in Physics and A in design technology, Economics, Biology, Chemistry, Further Mathematics and others. Another way to enter is via Cambridge’s Pre-U program, which is a post-16 university preparatory program that can also prepare you for entry into most UK based Universities.
As expected the University of Bath requires A*AA with A* in Physics or Maths, with a third A level preferably in one of the following fields of study: Design and Technology, Maths or traditional subjects.
Like the other universities on this list, the University of Leeds requires, A*AA with the A* in Physics or Mathematics. Unlike the other Universities on this list, the University of Leeds also offers an alternative method of admissions, for non-traditional students including ones from low-income homes, continuing students and students that are the first of their family to go to University. If your academic or personal circumstances do not meet any of these requirements, the University of Leeds also offers a foundation course.
Finally, the University of Bristol encapsulates the same requirements when it comes to academic requirements an A*AA with the A* being in either maths or physics.
Mechanical engineering at all these Universities above is a four-year program, and they offer either general mechanical engineering or mechanical engineering with a concentration in manufacturing or design. The coursework involves advanced mathematics and physics and engineering of course. Inherently this makes mechanical engineering a highly challenging field of study and has the dishonourable distinction of having the second-highest dropout rate in the UK.
As mentioned in the introduction, due to the vast professional options you can pursue as a mechanical engineer, employability is extremely high with the unemployment rate amongst young graduates being a diminutive 7% according to propects.ac.uk. This is a little less than half the national unemployment amongst people 18-24 which was 14.4% as of February of last year.
Beyond delving into an industry, some engineers decide instead to pursue an academic career. Even if you do choose the academic route, that doesn’t mean you can’t return to industry at any point. Of course getting an advanced degree means you will have to stay in school for another 4-6 year depending on the level of degree you want.
Mechanical engineering can be an exciting, stimulating and rewarding career. You will be on the cutting edge of innovation, in most cases and most of your days will be filled with engaging work and extremely intelligent co-workers. At the same time, it can be a frustrating profession, because innovation goes hand in hand with bureaucracy. You will also have to communicate with non-engineer co-workers and attempt to explain complex processes or concepts, something else that can prove frustrating.
Mechanical engineering can prove to be a very long-lived and fruitful career due to its ability to work with anything manufactured, mechanical or that moves. One of the most interesting branches of mechanical engineering at the moment is biotechnology which deals with the biological integration of engineering solutions, such as prosthetics, nano-medicine and environmental management issues through mechanical engineering applications.
Who knows what the future will hold for this profession: autonomous exoskeletons to help paraplegic individuals walk? Autonomous robots that be used to complete menial or dangerous work? Maybe even new ways to harvest energy from the environment. No matter where the science goes, mechanical engineers will be close by to make concepts a reality.
We all know that mechanical engineering is an extremely difficult field of study, so if you survived the academic gauntlet and currently work as an engineer, we would love to hear from you. We would love to know how you used your knowledge and expertise, what challenges you overcame, during your studies and while working. Let us know in the comment section below. Hopefully your feedback with help and inspire the latest generation of engineers.