In 2010, 71,000 mechanical engineering technologists were employed in the U.S, according to Onet Online. Technologists may work in manufacturing businesses, research and development, the aerospace industry or testing labs. Mechanical engineering technologists work with engineers to design, build and improve mechanical equipment and machinery.
Machinery, Equipment and Device Design
Engineering technologists help mechanical engineers design and develop equipment, industrial machinery or products for consumers. Mechanical engineering technologists may analyze existing equipment, products or manufacturing processes to identify areas that mechanical engineering devices or machinery may improve. When developing a piece of machinery for production, engineering techs meet with the workers who will use the machine to determine their requirements and ensure it meets their expectations. Cost analysis is one of the tasks technologists perform on a development or design team. The analysis determines the cost of the machinery or product and compares it against its value. Technologists also analyze the cost of labor, the projected life of the product and the production space required to manufacture something.
Engineering technology degree programs train aspiring mechanical engineering technologists in computer-aided design. Technologists use the training to prepare drawings based on the engineer's design specifications. The mechanical engineering technologist must also have the ability to interpret engineering drawings and create process instructions for the production staff to manufacture the product. A strong attention for detail is necessary to create mechanical engineering drawings and specifications.
Testing Equipment, Components and Machines
Technologists conduct tests on products to ensure they operate as expected. A mechanical engineering technologist uses the equipment as consumers or production workers will to identify areas for improvement. Technologists document the results and data from the testing phase of product development for mechanical engineers and project leaders to review. Engineering technologists keep detailed records on the types of tests performed and the testing process.
Mechanical engineering technologists work as a liaison between engineers and the employees building products or machinery. Technologists help workers interpret engineering drawings and assembly instructions. In a production environment, mechanical engineering technicians or technologists may oversee the manufacturing process and train workers to use new equipment.
According to ONet Online, 46 percent of engineering technologists had a bachelor’s degree while 37 percent had an associate degree. Bachelor’s degree programs in mechanical engineering technology include courses in advanced mathematics, physics, chemistry, statistics and humanities. Engineering courses in a bachelor’s program include engineering design, thermodynamics, strength of materials and fluid mechanics. Associate degree programs also include courses in thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, engineering design and material strength, but students may complete an associate degree program in two years while a bachelor’s degree requires four years of study. ONet Online reports 15 percent of respondents completed some college, but did not have a degree.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2012 17-3027 Mechanical Engineering Technicians
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: What Mechanical Engineering Technicians Do
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: How to Become a Mechanical Engineering Technician
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Work Environment
- ONet Online: Summary Report for: 17-3029.07 - Mechanical Engineering Technologists
- NHTI: Mechanical Engineering Technology Degree
- Penn State Harrisburg: Mechanical Engineering Technology (M E T) - Recommended Academic Plan