Mechanical engineering is a highly diversified profession. The mechanical engineer designs machines, devices, various products and control systems, and works with the generation, conversion, transmission, and utilization of mechanical and thermal power. Assignments often include analysis and synthesis of mechanical, thermal, and fluid systems. Mechanical engineers are also responsible for characterization, specification, and analysis of materials used in design and manufacturing. Manufacturing systems, robotics, electromechanical devices, and control systems are also the purview of the mechanical engineer. Graduates in mechanical engineering are among the most versatile engineers and enjoy professional employment in industry, government, consulting, and research organizations.
The work of mechanical engineers varies from general engineering to numerous, narrow specialties, as required by the wide variety of employers. A general list, though not in any way exhaustive, of the areas of professional employment opportunities available to mechanical engineers includes: design, construction, controls, materials specification and evaluation, analysis of thermal systems, fluid and solid mechanics, manufacturing, plant engineering, research and development, and technical sales. Many mechanical engineers are promoted to management and administrative positions as well.
Mechanical engineers should possess a thorough understanding of engineering science as well as analytical and practical skills in one of many basic mechanical engineering specialties. The mechanical engineering curriculum at Texas A&M educates students in logical thinking, a prerequisite for professional competence. The curriculum consists of basic theory courses complemented by laboratory experiences in dynamic systems and controls, design, experimentation, fluid mechanics, heat transfer, manufacturing, and materials. Elective courses are offered in several areas including air conditioning, automotive engineering, computer aided design, controls, energy conversion, internal combustion engines, manufacturing, materials, polymer processing, nondestructive evaluation, metallurgy, power generation, stress analysis, fluid mechanics, turbomachinery, and others. The selection of elective courses is dictated by the interests and goals of the student with the aid of the departmental advisors.
Many students enhance their education by participating in cooperative education, which offers opportunities for employment in engineering positions while working toward a degree. Numerous study abroad programs are also available for gaining experience and perspectives in the international arena. Participation in student chapters of professional and honor societies provides leadership opportunities, collegial activities, and learning experiences outside the classroom. Many students also participate in research projects through individual directed studies courses with a professor. The program culminates with a senior capstone design course sequence highlighted by real-life projects sponsored by various industries. Students benefit from the challenge and gratification that come through direct interaction with practicing engineers.