Subjects offered in mechanical engineering

Which subjects and courses are taught to undergraduate mechanical engineering students? As a pre-requisite, mechanical engineering students are required to study basic physics and mathematics courses at school level. During four year undergraduate study program, mechanical engineering students are required to study various subjects of sciences, linguistics, humanities and management. Fundamental subjects of mechanical engineering can be classified into following categories:
  1. Basic Engineering Courses (Core Subjects/ Optional Subjects)
  2. Design and Manufacturing
  3. Humanities/ Linguistics
  4. Management
  5. Labs and Workshops
  6. Summer Internship
Science subjects can be divided into two categories i.e. core subjects and optional subjects. Following subjects are taught to mechanical engineers in this category:

Electronics/ Electrical Courses: To be a successful mechanical engineer, you must have basic knowledge of all aligned disciplines of engineering.

Engineering Mechanics (Statics, Dynamics): Mechanics is the study of forces and their effects on bodies in motion or bodies at rest.

Mechanics of Solids, Stress Analysis: This course introduces students to the fundamental principles and methods of structural mechanics.

Thermodynamics: This subject deals primarily with equilibrium properties of macroscopic systems, basic thermodynamics, chemical equilibrium of reactions in gas and solution phase, and rates of chemical reactions.

Fluid Mechanics: Study of fluids and their properties (force, viscosity, density etc) with respect to engineering application.

Theory of Machines: Theory of Machines deals with the study of relative motion between the various parts of machine, and forces which act on them.

Heat Transfer: Deals with complete study of heat transfer (including radiation, convection and conduction)

Engineering Design, Machine Design: The course in Machine Design help mechanical engineering students understand the fundamentals of designing the most commonly used parts, elements and units of machines and products.

Manufacturing Technology: Gives mechanical engineers introduction about manufacturing basics including manufacturing processes, equipment/control, systems, and design.

Mechanical Vibrations: This course deals with the study of vibration in mechanical systems which is concerned with the oscillatory motions of bodies and the forces associated with vibrations.

System Dynamics and Control: The course addresses dynamic systems, i.e., systems that evolve with time. Typically these systems have inputs and outputs.

CAD/CAM (Computer Aided Design/ Computer Aided Manufacturing): Mechanical engineers are trained to design and manufacture mechanical parts using computers.

Introduction to Automobile Engg: In this subject mechanical engineers are taught basics of automobiles including IC Engines, Vehicle Design, Air Dynamics etc)

Introduction to Finite Element: This course is an introduction to the finite element method as applicable to a range of problems in physics and engineering sciences.

Introduction to Computational Fluid Dynamics: Computational fluid dynamics is an important tool to investigate fluid flow problems in industry and academia.

Gas Dynamics: The course introduces compressible flow and its constitutive equations.

Refrigeration & Air-conditioning: Mechanical engineers studying this course get basic knowledge of air conditioning and refrigerants used.

Power Plants: This course offers detailed study about power generation including wind turbines, renewable energy resources, gas turbines, energy from water, coal powered power plants, nuclear power plants and solar energy etc)

I.C. Engines: Study of Engines, design of engines, study of working pressure and temperature inside engine’s cylinder.

Energy Management & Conservation: Energy conservation the most important thing than energy generation.

Robotics: The courses build towards a capstone in which you will learn how to program a robot to perform a variety of movements.

Design and manufacturing: These subjects help mechanical engineering students in understanding basic principle of drawing and design. This includes manual drawings as well as computer based drawings.

Humanities/ Linguistics courses: These courses are taught to improve technical writing and report writing skills.

Management Courses: Management courses are integral part of mechanical engineering degree. A good mechanical engineer ought to be a good manager as well. Without management skills, a mechanical engineer will completely fail in team work. These management subjects are taught to mechanical engineers in undergraduate degrees:
  • Operation Management
  • Industrial Safety
  • Total Quality Management
  • Maintenance Management
  • Project Management
Topic wise knowledge of basic concepts of mechanical engineering gives more detailed information about mechanical engineering courses.

Specializations offered in Mechanical Engineering

What are the specializations offered in mechanical engineering? Every engineering degree comes with a variety of areas of specialization. Students in their last year of study (i.e. after 6th semester), have to opt certain optional subjects based on their area of interest. These subjects build the baseline for specialization area. Not all engineering degrees offer detailed technical education about each and every aspect of related technology. Only basic courses related to all areas of specializations are taught to mechanical engineers so that they get a basic understanding of all subjects.

Talking specifically about areas of specialization in mechanical engineering, let us first understand what mechanical engineering students are taught during four years of undergraduate degree program. It all starts from some basic courses of physics and mathematics. After you graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering, you just have a basic understanding and information about so many subjects that will be enough for you to prosper in any specialized field of work related to mechanical engineering.

Fluid Mechanics or Hydraulics: Mechanical engineers who find themselves interested in fluids and hydraulics, opt for specialization in fluid mechanics or hydraulics. This specialization course enables mechanical engineers to work in industries like dams, irrigation, agriculture and hydraulics.
 
Materials Engineering: Materials play a vital role in product development and innovation. New composite materials are being developed as per requirement of products. A basic degree in mechanical engineering combined with specialization in materials engineering gives an edge to those engineers who find themselves inclined towards production, research and manufacturing.
 
Nanotechnology: Nanomaterials are the next big thing. They are being used in every sector from health industry to robotics etc. This is little advanced specialization than materials engineering.
 
Biomedical Engineering: Biomedical engineering (BME) is the study of engineering principles and design procedures to medicine and biology for healthcare purposes (e.g. diagnostic or therapeutic).
 
Heat Transfer, Thermodynamics, and Energy Systems: In this area of specialization, principles of thermodynamics, and heat transfer (conduction, convection, and radiation) are taught in detail. Thermodynamics, heat transfer and fluid mechanics are closely related to each other.
 
Automobiles: Mechanical engineers who specialize in automobiles after basic degree in mechanical engineering are taught subjects related to IC Engines, heat transfer, fluid mechanics, power generation, Electric motors, automobile design, Engines etc.
 
Robotics, Automation & Control: As the name is very obvious, students inclined towards robots opt for subjects related to robotics, automation and control. This is a specialized field of mechanical engineering which requires knowledge and understanding of computer languages as well as basic electronics.
 
Transportation Systems: Courses in transportation systems enable mechanical engineers in understanding modern systems introduced in bullet trains, metro trains, aviation, airplanes etc.
 
Engineering Design: Mechanical engineers with specialization in engineering design are required in industries which required designing new products at large scale. This includes consultants, design firms, and contractors etc.
 
HVAC: Heat, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) deals with installation of large scale air conditioning in multi-story buildings, factories, mines etc.
 
Oil and Gas: Oil and gas sector deals with exploration of oil and gas fields etc. This is highly paid specialization in mechanical engineering due to onsite tough nature of the job. Specialization in oil and gas after degree in mechanical engineering is quite rewarding these days.
 
Nuclear Energy: Mechanical engineers who are employed by nuclear sector are sent on training and educational programs with specialization in nuclear energy.
 
Marine Engineering: Some mechanical engineers opt to study marine engineering after basic degree in mechanical engineering.
 
Learn more about courses taught in mechanical engineering and basic concepts of mechanical engineering to understand things in detail.

Job Description of a Mechanical Engineer

What is job description of a mechanical engineer? What are job responsibilities, day to day tasks, duties and responsibilities of a mechanical engineer? A job description (JD) is a formal document containing brief information about mechanical engineer’s responsibilities.

Job description of mechanical engineers vary from industry to industry. For example, JD of a mechanical engineer working in automobile sector will be completely different from an engineer working in energy sector. In this era of automation, mechanical engineers play a pivotal role in growth of a company specially related to manufacturing. Typical job description of a mechanical engineer includes:
  • Design and manufacturing of new products.
  • Supervision of team of technicians.
  • Adherence to mechanical engineering standards, health and safety standards etc. Compliance of government regulations.
  • Writing training manuals, technical reports, handbooks and bulletins for products or engineering operations to help other team members understand the basics.
  • Preparation of feasibility reports for new projects and products based on historical data etc.
  • Assessing project requirements or operational requirements for setting up new projects or expansion of current operations.
  • Measuring performance of mechanical components, processes and products. Keeping log of all observations and necessary maintenance requirements.
  • Calculation of budgeting, estimates, forecasts, financial calculations, projections, sales forecasts, return on investments, payback periods etc.
  • Using CAD software and techniques for design improvements.
  • Planning procurement of different components of a project.
  • Testing, evaluating and modification of products.
  • A mechanical engineer should be well versed in project management tools including MS Project, primavera etc.
  • To perform scheduled maintenance of mechanical products, machinery and equipment
  • Keeping record and maintaining log of all mechanical instruments in use
  • Extracting useful information from large data sets related to different products based on feedback or consumption history of customers
This job description for a mechanical engineer is very generic in nature. Modifications can be done accordingly as per requirements. Key skills required for mechanical engineers along with above mentioned job description are:
  • Technical report writing skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Problem solving skills
  • Creativity and innovation
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Verbal and written communication skills
  • Knowledge of current and latest practices in mechanical engineering industry
  • Information about computer aided design and manufacturing
  • Planning and design skills
  • Project management skills
I hope this job description of mechanical engineers gives you an idea about responsibilities, day to day tasks and duties of mechanical engineer. Learn more about basic concepts of mechanical engineering before you start applying for mechanical engineering degree.

Scope of Mechanical Engineering Degree

What is the scope of mechanical engineering degree? This is the most challenging question revolving in student’s mind when he is struggling to choose a field of study in engineering. The question is how do we define the term “scope”. For many students, scope is:
  • Likelihoods of getting a job soon after graduation
  • A salary offer above median/ average salary of engineers
  • No. of jobs in industry for mechanical engineers
  • Career prospects after graduation
  • Promotions and career growth in mechanical engineering
  • Future scope of the degree in mechanical engineering
  • Demand in the industry for mechanical engineers
With advancement in technology and research, scope of mechanical engineering is increasing rapidly. This is an age of inter-disciplinary skills. Mechanical engineers have focused their research on nano-materials, composite materials, nano-technology, biomedical application and environmental conservation etc. 

There goes a famous saying about mechanical engineering that it is an evergreen field of engineering. There is no industry which can prosper without presence of mechanical engineers. Scope of mechanical engineering is unlimited. It is one of the oldest branch of engineering. I would explain above mentioned measures of scope in a bit detail.

Likelihoods of getting a job soon after graduation: This does not only depend on a degree. It depends on your skills, extracurricular activities, institute where you are getting degree from, presentation and communication skills etc. A company is always looking for an engineer with dynamic personality, good communication and interpersonal skills, an engineer with ideas and innovation.

Salary Offer: Now this is tricky and matters for those who know how to negotiate salary in interview. But I can bet that mechanical engineers get much better salary offers than other fields of study. Mechanical Engineers earn a median salary of $83,590 per year. Salaries typically start from $53,640 and go up to $128,430. (These figures have been quoted with respect to facts of United States). Entry-level mechanical engineers holding bachelor's degrees earned average annual starting salaries of $61,300, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers' Spring 2012 Salary Survey. NACE reported that mechanical engineers with a master's degree started at an average of $75,700 - significantly more than the average starting salary of mechanical engineers with a bachelor's degree.

No. of jobs for mechanical engineers in industry: Just forget about this. There are plenty of jobs for mechanical engineers. They are in high demand all over the world. There are only a few countries where mechanical industry has almost vanished or it didn’t prosper as much as it must have done. Once you have graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering, you have so many options and industries to work in. Ranging from manufacturing, power generation, construction, energy, transportation, automobile, beverages, pharmaceutical, agricultural, IT and other industries.

Promotions and career growth in mechanical engineering: Career growth in mechanical engineering is faster compared to many other fields of study. There are not many graduates with mechanical engineering degree. This gives a boost to the scope of mechanical engineering. I don’t know any mechanical engineer with bad views of job prospects.

Options After DME Diploma in Mechanical Engineering

What I can do after getting diploma in mechanical engineering i.e. DME. I have been writing articles helping mechanical engineers since last many years. This is the most common question asked by students of diploma courses: What to do after diploma in ME? This is a very simple yet very complex question for fresh graduates with a diploma in hand and no job offers at all. I have seen students worrying their future. They are always confused between two options i.e. further education (Btech) or job. I recommend only further education at this stage. Option of job is for those who cannot afford further fee etc. They can get support from a part time/ full time job.

Here are few options after diploma in mechanical engineering (DME):

  1. With a diploma in mechanical engineering, you can get few more certifications. For example, in Design(AutoCAD), Solar energy, Biogas, Waste to energy, Food Processing, Plant Maintenance, Marine sciences, Defense Technologies, Automobile, Industrial boilers, Heat exchangers, Oil Exploration, Plumbing works, HVAC, Quality Control, Quality inspection, HSE (Health and Safety), ISO standards, Pressure Vessel Design, Project Management, Risk analysis, TQM, Costing analysis, Risk Mitigation, HR Management, Procurement, Industrial design etc. These fields can be opted on basis of interest/ aptitude. It will definitely increase your chances of placement with a better pay after diploma in ME.
  2. If you are financially strong and have no problems in paying for Btech/ BE after diploma in mechanical. Then there is no better option than this. Because once you are a full time engineer, you enter into a completely different world with new horizon of job opportunities.
  3. Third option is of job for few years and then Btech or BE. But personally, I do not recommend this option. Because you will waste your initial experience of job. Industry will look at you as a fresh graduate after BE. They will usually not consider your past experience.
  4. Another option is for hardworking diploma holders. They can go for job along-with studies. It is hectic but very suitable for those who have financial problems. They can easily manage to pay for their educational expense after getting diploma in mechanical engineering (DME).
Options are not limited for people engaged in technical sector. A diploma holder cannot be compared with a graduate in general arts subjects. Technical knowledge always gives you an edge over other qualifications. I have seen people doing diploma in engineering and then further courses and certifications enable them to earn more than engineers from field jobs like offshore oil exploration, trenching, marine works, defense work etc. Career after engineering/ btech/ diploma depends only on your hard work. Even BE engineers have to look for new ways/ certifications for promotions or better job options.

How to negotiate salary during interview?

How to negotiate salary during interview and how much salary should be demanded by a mechanical engineer is the most perplexing question in minds of all engineers when they have been shortlisted for a job/ position. These things are learned over time. I received many queries from fresh engineering graduates to provide basic guidelines on how to assess salary demand for a particular job. Here I have divided these guidelines in two portions. One for experienced professionals and job seekers with past experience and one section with guidelines for fresh graduates seeking their first job.

Expected salary for experienced engineers with past experience:

  • Never settle below your current salary.
  • Your current salary includes all net cash that you receive each month, provident funds, medical facilities, fuel/ vehicle etc and whatever other facilities you are getting. Convert your facilities into cash form and this becomes your actual monthly value that you are getting at this stage.
  • Always add one annual increment to your current salary. Because there are high chances that you will not get first annual increment at your new job (if you have not completed six months till December of that particular year). Mostly this practice prevails in all HR departments. So you can tell this to your prospective employer that if you stay at your current job, this much increment you will be receiving at end of the year.
  • Always try to get salary ranges/ salary insights from current employees of the company. Being an engineer, you can always find a link inside all companies. There might be a senior of your engineering college or your junior already working in that company. Even if you do not have a college fellow, you can easily arrange a meeting with any employee of the company to discuss salary ranges for engineers for a particular post.

Expected salary for fresh engineers:

  • If you are a fresh engineer with no past experience, then situation is a bit different. You do not have past experience. Usually employers exploit this situation and offer lesser salaries quoting your inexperience as the main cause of lesser salary. You have to counter this wisely.
  • Always try to get insights from employees already working in that department on how much salary is being offered to engineers in that department.
  • Never settle below a minimum ethical wage for engineers. I cannot quote a figure/ amount here. Because minimum ethical salary varies from country to country. You have to assess that minimum level. For example salary of an engineer with four years degree cannot be equal to the salary of a diploma holder/ technician.
  • Never set your mind on too much high demands that employers find it difficult to select you. Be humble and set your focus on getting experience. But in lure of this humbleness, do not set you salary demands too low that it becomes difficult for you to get out of this vicious cycle.
  • Always remember that once you start your first job with lesser salary, employers at other job interviews will not offer you a bigger jump. They will always consider your previous salary. So keep this thing in mind. There are rare cases where employee get good salary jumps during job switching.
I hope this article helps you decide how much salary should be demanded in an interview. If you have any questions in mind, post your queries in comments. Good luck for your interview. Read more about interview tips and interview questions.

Best CV Format for Mechanical Engineers

Fifty percent engineers fail to grab a dream job because of basic faults in their CVs/ Resume. This article tells you about best CV format for mechanical engineers and how you are supposed to design your CV when applying for jobs. You CV is your first impression on future employer. He/ she does not know you. Your CV is the only representation of your personality. He/ she may select or reject you after first glance on your resume. 

I have experienced shortlisting and interviewing candidates for different jobs. I was astonished to learn that most of the candidates simply copy paste each others CVs without any changes at all. These types of CVs are rejected immediately. I am not trying to tell you that you should avoid copying, rather i ma telling you to refrain from giving your CV to your friends.

An ideal CV consists of following portions:

  • Name/ Address of the applicant
  • Objective
  • Education Record
  • Employment History
  • Professional Skills
  • Awards & Achievements
  • Co-Curricular Activities/ Interests
  • Professional Affiliations
  • References

Name/ Address of the Applicant: This is the first section of CV. A best CV design will consist of name and address written in an elegant font style. Contact numbers, email ID, complete address and skype ID are basic parts of this section.

Objective: What is your objective/ purpose for applying for this job? This should be job specific. Don’t copy/ paste CV objectives from internet. Write your own unique objective and tell the employer what you have got and how you will contribute to potential employer? Avoid outdated statements.

Education Record: This section briefly gives all historical information of educational qualifications starting from most recent first. Do not give information of diplomas at this stage, only professional qualifications which make you eligible for job.

Employment History: Give detail of current job and previous job history with all detail of projects executed and job description. Only give brief detail here. Do not write complete detail (save something which you can tell verbally during interview). Employment history also includes internships and apprenticeships.

Professional Skills: Best CV format of mechanical engineers gives detail of all softwares, suits and computer applications you are proficient in. For example: AutoCAD, ANSYS, Pro Engineer, Microsoft Office, Primavera, Operating systems, Photoshop and technical writing skills etc. The more the better. Please only mention those softwares which you are proficient in.

Awards & Achievements: This is the section which differentiates all CVs. Previous all things will be almost same for all mechanical engineers. Here your awards and achievements during different projects that you have executed will make real difference.

Co-Curricular Activities: These activities do not make as much difference but are always discussed in interview. So, you have to write detail of all sports activities (indoor/ outdoor) and other co-curricular activities. Because sports and extra-curricular activities are considered a token of healthy mind. Do not write only traditional activities, mention other social responsibilities as well that you have taken. For example volunteer work, teaching, social welfare organizations etc.

Professional Affiliations: Give a list of professional organizations that you are member of. For example, American Society of Mechanical Engineers or any other local engineering councils/ bodies in your country.

References: References can be provided upon request.

I hope this gives you an insight into best CV format for mechanical engineers. I ensure you that if you will design your resume on above given instructions, you will be definitely shortlisted for your dream job. Do not hesitate to contact me in case you have any questions in mind. No matter how stupid your question is.

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