What is Mechanical Engineering all about? Discover the scope of Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical engineering, along with computer science and electrical engineering, is one of the most popular engineering courses among Indian students, specifically for those interested in automobiles and machines. Apart from having a big impact in the automobile industry (a.k.a automotive industry), mechanical engineering plays a very important role in other sectors such as aeronautical, biomedical, nanotechnology, petroleum, robotics, marine and oil and energy, to name a few. India is home to excellent undergraduate and graduate programs in mechanical engineering and as of 2014, the job outlook looks promising for mechanical engineering and allied fields. Please read on to discover what this field has to offer in terms of education, jobs and higher studies.

Mechanical engineering is the study, analysis, design, production and maintenance of objects and systems in motion. It is one of the oldest and broadest engineering disciplines in the world. Mechanical engineering applies principles from mathematics, physics(motion, energy and force) and chemistry (materials sciences) to design and manufacture products that are high in quality, safe and economical. Mechanical engineers don’t just work with automobiles and machines, they are also equally involved in sectors that involves design, development and manufacturing of systems in motion. Some of the industries, apart from automobiles and manufacturing, where mechanical engineers are routinely employed are biomedical devices, marine, chemicals and oil and gas industry.

Since the foundation of mechanical engineering lies primarily in physics, mathematics and chemistry, a strong background in the basic subjects is vital if students want to understand advanced mechanical engineering concepts in college and further. The core subjects within mechanical engineering are: thermodynamics and fluids, solid mechanics, dynamics and controls, and manufacturing. Mechanical engineering has a lot in common with other engineering disciplines like chemical engineering (heat transfer being a common subject) and civil engineering (such as engineering mechanics, structural mechanics and fluid mechanics).

Mechanical engineers find jobs in the following sectors: manufacturing, automotive, automobile, aerospace, pharmaceuticals, biomedical, computers and electronics, oil and gas, energy, power, environmental control, robotics etc.

B.E/B.Tech: A B.Tech/B.E (4 years duration) in mechanical engineering is offered by numerous private and government based universities across India.

Integrated M.Tech: This is a 5-year dual degree course and offered by select universities such as the IITs and NITs. The dual degree program confers students with a B.Tech and an M.Tech in mechanical engineering with specialization in areas such as computer aided design and automation, computer integrated manufacturing etc.

The first two years of mechanical engineering includes basic sciences subjects such as chemistry, physics and mathematics, and core mechanical engineering concepts such as engineering drawing, engineering mechanics, engineering design, computational engineering, fluid mechanics, applied mechanics, electrical sciences, manufacturing technology, kinematics, instrumentation and control, materials and designs etc. Apart from the core courses, during the first year of engineering, students will also be exposed to other aspects of engineering such as civil, electronics and computer science.

The last two years of engineering covers further core subjects of mechanical engineering such as heat transfer, machine tools, mechanical engineering labs, turbomachines, internal combustion engines, design of machine elements, refrigeration and airconditioning, thermal power engineering and a few electives.

Final year of engineering consists of a couple of core courses and a project. Most universities devote the eight semester for the project but there are some universities that allow students to work on the final year project for one full year.

Considering that there is no proper accredited ranking system for engineering in India, we chose to use a popular world ranking system to find universities in India that are recognised globally for their work in Mechanical Engineering. The QS World University Rankings are annual university rankings published by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) which provides overall rankings as well as ranking for individual subjects. The QS World University Rankings is regarded as one of the three most influential and widely observed international university rankings, along with the Times Higher Education World University Rankings and the Academic Ranking of World Universities. The following universities from India appeared in the QS world ranking for top 200 universities in the world for Mechanical, Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering (In no particular order).

  • IISc, Bangalore
  • IIT Delhi, Bombay, Kharagpur, Madras, Kanpur, Roorkee

The following universities from India appeared in the QS world ranking for top 200 universities in Asia for Mechanical, Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering. (In no particular order)

  • IISc, Bangalore
  • IIT Bombay, Kharagpur, Madras, Delhi, Kanpur, Roorkee, Guwahati
  • Delhi University
  • Mumbai University
  • Pune University
  • Calcutta University

Apart from the above mentioned universities, other prestigious universities in India such as the NITs, BITs Pilani, Anna University etc are all renowned for mechanical engineering. If you are unable to get a seat in any one of the above mentioned universities or reputed colleges within your state, try working with professors in reputed universities for internships and final year project. This will give you the much needed practical, quality work experience that will help elevate your academic profile.

  • A degree in any engineering discipline will be heavy in mathematics. With regards to mechanical engineering, mathematics, physics and chemistry forms the foundation for this field and students must excel in the basic sciences if they want to perform well in mechanical engineering.
  • The manufacturing sector is highly vulnerable to recession. However, since mechanical engineers have the skill sets required to find jobs in other sectors, they can try for jobs in other areas such as oil and energy, marine, power industry etc.
  • Most of the core companies attend campus placements of prestigious institutions such as IITs and NITs. If your university is not reputed nationally or state wise, then chances of core companies coming for placements sessions will be very less.
  • Mechanical engineering, for a long time, was considered to be a male dominated industry and not suitable for girls due to tasks like handling large machinery. Due to this notion, the number of girls in mechanical engineering departments has always been very low. However, it is very important to be aware of the fact that mechanical engineering is a white collar profession, meaning you are not a mechanic. There will be mechanics around to help operate and handle the large machinery. Also, there are many jobs that are design related and has little to do with working in an industrial setting. If you are a girl and interested in mechanical engineering, go for it by all means.

Most students who are interested in pursuing a career in Mechanical Engineering take up Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Computer Science or Biology in 11th and 12th class.

Role of Computer Science: Considering that computer science has invaded almost every discipline, including mechanical engineering, coding skills will be of great use for mechanical engineering students as this field employs programming skills for data analysis, 2D/3D modelling etc. using MATLAB, Python and various software tools. Also, if you want to specialize in robotics, a subdiscipline of mechanical engineering, excellent programming knowledge is vital.

Role of Biology: Mechanical engineering principles and concepts are widely used in biomedical engineering and nanotechnology. Therefore, basic biology will help immensely if you are planning on pursuing a career in bio related fields as mentioned above.

Several schools and boards offer an elective called engineering graphics which will be perfect for students who are interested in pursuing a career in mechanical engineering.

Upon completion of your undergraduate studies, you have two options ahead of you - find a job or pursue higher studies in Mechanical Engineering.

Jobs: If you take a look at the placement statistics of various universities, you will realize that core companies attend the campus placement sessions of prestigious institutions such as IITs, NITs, BITs etc. If your college is not reputed nationally or state wise, then chances of core companies coming for placements will be nil and most students will end up joining software and IT industry. However, if you have developed a good resume with impressive grades, projects and internships, you will have a good chance of getting a job through off-campus placements. As mentioned before, mechanical engineers can find work in an array of sectors ranging from manufacturing to healthcare. In India, since biomedical and nanotechnology sectors are not very well developed, mechanical engineering students find jobs mostly in the following sectors:

Manufacturing, Automotive, Aviation, Aerospace, Shipping and Machinery: Bajaj Auto ltd, Bosch Limited, Caterpillar India Private Ltd, GE ITC, General Motors, HCL Technologies, Hero MotoCorp Ltd, HUL, ITC Ltd, Larsen & Toubro, Renault Nissan Technologies Pvt Ltd, Subros, Siemens, TATA Motors, John Deere, TAFE, Ashok Leyland, Hyundai, Essar Groups, Godrej & Boyce, Kirloskar Groups, Mahindra & Mahindra, Michelin Tyres etc.

Oil and Gas, Power, Energy: BPCL, ONGC, Reliance industries Ltd, Shell, Technip, Schlumberger, TATA Powers etc

Computers, Electronics and semiconductors industry: KLA Tencor, Eaton corporation, Schneider Electric, General Electric, Philips electronics etc

Banks and consulting firms: Goldman Sachs, Deutsche, Mckinsey etc Many banks hire mechanical engineering students as they have very strong quantitative skills and are excellent for financial modeling, quantitative research related work.

Government firms: BARC, NTPC, ISRO, DRDO, IOCL and BHEL.

Salaries: Salary is hugely dependant on the nature of the work,the organization hiring, student’s profile and reputation of the university. The average salary is 20k to 25k rupees per month for a fresh mechanical engineering graduate. The salary package is higher in MNCs such as Schlumberger, Mercedes Benz, Shell etc.

Studies: Considering that mechanical engineering is a very broad field, students have plenty of options to choose from for further studies. Many students go on to pursue their master’s, PhD or M.Tech in mechanical engineering and specialize in areas such as: biomechanical engineering, nanotechnology, design, flow physics, computational engineering and many more. Students who are interested in getting into the management side of things do their MBA. Many students also move on to other fields such as petroleum engineering, marine engineering, civil and environmental engineering, biomedical engineering and electrical engineering for higher studies. Research and development in India is still developing in areas such as biomedical engineering, environmental engineering, energy conservation and nanotechnology. If you are interested in specializing in any one of these areas, then a degree from USA, Singapore, Canada and UK will be perfect as these fields are developed in these nations and the job prospects look good.

The manufacturing sector took a severe beating in the United States during the 2008 recession. Many mechanical engineers lost their jobs due to layoffs and graduates were left without any job vacancies to apply to. As of 2014, the scenario has improved and the situation looks stable for mechanical engineers in developed nations. Also, climate change and global warming is poised to create new jobs in energy conservation, renewable resources and sustainability.

In India, during the 2008 recession, the manufacturing industry was not affected as badly as the software and IT industry and placements were steady for mechanical engineering students. Also, since mechanical engineers work in other sectors such as oil and gas, energy, electronics and power industry, the jobs are well distributed.