Mechanical engineering was ranked the 6th best technology job of 2013, in addition to ranking 17th out of the 100 best jobs of 2013, according to ''U.S. News and World Report.'' As of May 2012 wage data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it also paid a lucrative salary of $84,770. However, a certain professional and educational background is required to pursue this career.
While requirements may vary by school, mechanical engineering students at the University of Colorado, for example, need 128 semester credit hours. Classes taken during freshmen year at the university include Computer-aided Design, Calculus for Engineers, Chemistry of Energy and Matter, and Introduction to Engineering and General Physics. Sophomore-year classes include Experimental Physics, Materials Science, Statistics and Structures, General Physics 2 and 3, and a Professional Seminar.
Core or upper-level coursework includes such classes as Dynamics, Component Design, Heat Transfer, Computational Methods and Thermodynamics. Other coursework includes such topics as Mechanics of Solids, Fluid Mechanics, Circuits & Electronics and Measurement Lab, in addition to Data Analysis, Manufacturing and System Dynamics. Students also take two general technical electives and two mechanical engineering electives.
Traits and Skills
Mechanical engineers need analytical and problem-solving skills to conceive solutions to various types of problems. They also need mechanical skills and the ability to learn and work well with a variety of tools and equipment. Mechanical engineers also need a certain level of creativity to design or build machinery. In addition, math skills, such as trigonometry and calculus, are vital in the design, analysis and troubleshooting process.
Licenses and Certifications
In the United States, mechanical engineers who want to work in public positions must be licensed as professional engineers. Licensing is provided at the state level. In addition, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers provides a variety of certification programs that allow these professionals to demonstrate competence and aptitude.
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