Is mechanical engineering for me? This is the first question that I asked myself all those years ago. Now, as an engineer I’m often asked, “What made you decide to study mechanical engineering in the first place?” For many people it seems like a difficult topic, so they naturally wonder why anyone would sign up for such a tough major.
The following is a list of reasons why I chose to become an engineer; they’re my standard answers for those type of cocktail party questions. For students and young people considering the major, here are seven good reasons why it’s totally worth it…
1. Learn how everything mechanical works
We all probably know a few people who have no idea how a car works…like it’s just a magical box that you put gas into, press a button to go, and turn a wheel to steer.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. But when something goes wrong (say, the magic engine box suddenly won’t turn on) it’s sure nice to have someone around who can open the hood, figure out what’s going on, and get the magic box running again. The same goes for your computer, the modem, an airplane, the appliances in your house, and just about everything we use in our day-to-day lives.
As a mechanical engineer, you’ll learn how things work. You’ll learn that even the most complex systems and devices can be broken down into simpler components, and you’ll be able to figure out how each of them work, how they interact, and how to isolate and fix problems when something goes wrong.You’ll be the one that people turn to when something stops working or needs explaining.
2. Get a high-paying job
According to Collegechoice.net, mechanical engineering is one of the top 50 highest-paying careers for new graduates. When you graduate with just a bachelor’s degree, you can expect to land a job paying between $56k to 86k…right out of college! And there’s a lot of room to grow from there. A mechanical engineer with five years of experience can make up to $96k in the US and Europe. (according to Salary.com).
3. Help create the future, rather than react to it
Mechanical engineers are responsible for many of the emerging technologies that are shaping the future. While workers in other fields are often forced to adapt to new technology and a changing environment, mechanical engineers are on the front lines, designing and creating new solutions to the world’s problems.
Concerned about global warming? You can work for a company engineering lower-emissions engines or clean energy products. Like mobile technology? The mobile tech giants employ many mechanical engineers to help them design and build the newest mobile tech. There will always be room in the workforce for creative engineers who can help solve the world’s challenges.
4. You’ll always be challenged
As a mechanical engineer you will be faced with problems that require specialized skill sets. You will have to find solutions to new business and technical challenges and use every skill and resource at your disposal. That means that sometimes you’ll have to build entirely new skillsets from scratch. Maybe you’ll have to learn to program robots, spend time learning an advanced new manufacturing process, or become an expert in jet engines in order to find a solution to a tough problem. One thing is sure; you’ll never be bored.
5. There’s a mechanical engineering place for you in almost every industry
From airplanes to cars to mining equipment and household gadgets, there are mechanical engineers behind everything we use and enjoy.
Even industries that aren’t known for mechanical devices employ engineers. Proctor & Gamble, one of the world’s biggest consumer goods companies, is known for their beauty products and household detergents but they hire mechanical engineers for packaging and product design. The HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) industry hires mechanical engineers to plan projects in residential, commercial, and industrial buildings. The possibilities are endless.
6. Work with the best and brightest
As a mechanical engineer, you will be working with engineers of other disciplines, including manufacturing, electrical, computer, and other technical fields. You’ll learn about their fields and be pushed to excel, as you’re surrounded by other smart professionals who are pushing the technical envelope. You’ll also interact with business leaders, managers, administrative staff, manufacturing workers, and most likely customers and suppliers from your industry.
As an engineer, you’ll be well-placed to learn from and lead bright people from all sorts of backgrounds and areas of expertise.
7. Be at the forefront of a modern, evolving workforce
Gone are the days when an engineering staff would be filled with a homogeneous group of company men, working at the same job for forty years. Modern engineers are a diverse group. The numbers of women and minorities in technical roles is steadily increasing. The pressures of new technology and globalization have resulted in a lean, flexible workforce with a multitude of backgrounds, experience, and ideas. The result: even more innovation at every level.
From globally distributed teams to mobile technology to advanced simulation software, a modern engineer will be able to leverage an entirely new set of tools and opportunities, for a new set of modern challenges.
There are a lot more great reasons to become a mechanical engineer. This list just scratches the surface. Every engineer has his or her own personal experiences, those little things they love about their job, and many will depend on the industry, job and personal tastes of each engineer.