A Career as a Mechanical Engineer

Brayden Short

Career Goal- Mechanical Engineer

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Career Overview

Mechanical engineers design, build, and test mechanical tools and machines.

Mechanical engineers work on projects such as designing renewable energy systems and developing more efficient machines

Mechanical engineers draw their designs using drafting tools and computer-assisted design (CAD) software. They also study blueprints, schematics, and technical drawings. They work with clients and other designers to fine-tune designs.

Mechanical engineers build a prototype (or model) of a design so they can test to see if it works properly. They adjust the design and construction so that machines and tools function as intended.

They calculate the cost and get bids from different companies for materials and production. Some may assess the system’s impact on the environment.

Engineers may oversee the construction and assembly of the machines and tools they design. This allows them to continue fine-tuning their designs in order to improve their function.

Mechanical engineers also develop a maintenance schedule for machines and tools. If there are problems, mechanical engineers evaluate and find solutions to the problem. They tell mechanics which repairs to make and test the fixed system.

Mechanical engineers may work in a company with many departments. They may be responsible for all mechanical tools and machines for each department. They provide technical advice and consultation to others. They also manage groups of people who may do the actual construction and installation of tools and machines.

Mechanical Engineering (Career Investigation)

Career Skills and Interests


  • Read and understand work-related materials.
  • Listen to others and ask questions.
  • Speak clearly so listeners can understand.

Reason and Problem Solve

  • Analyze ideas and use logic to determine their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Combine several pieces of information and draw conclusions.
  • Notice when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong.
  • Use reasoning to discover answers to problems.

Use Math and Science

  • Use math skills to solve problems.

Manage Oneself, People, Time, and Things

  • Check how well one is learning or doing something.
  • Manage the time of self and others.
  • Motivate, develop, and direct people as they work.

Work with People

  • Be aware of others’ reactions and understand the possible causes.
  • Use several methods to learn or teach new things.

Work with Things

  • Analyze needs and requirements when designing products.
  • Inspect and evaluate the quality of products.

Perceive and Visualize

  • Imagine how something will look if it is moved around or its parts are rearranged.
  • Identify a pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in distracting material.
  • Quickly and accurately compare letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns.

Working Conditions

Interpersonal Relationships

  • Have a moderate level of social contact. They talk to other engineers, but also spend time alone in the lab.
  • Communicate on a daily basis by telephone, letters, memos, e-mail, and in person.
  • Often work as part of a team of engineers.
  • Are moderately responsible for the health and safety of others.

Physical Work Conditions

  • Usually work indoors.
  • Regularly wear protective or safety gear, such as eye goggles and gloves.
  • May be exposed to sound and noise levels that are loud or distracting.
  • Are occasionally exposed to contaminants.

Work Performance

  • Must fully complete and be very exact in their work. Errors could cause false results and produce materials that do not meet product needs.
  • Set most of their tasks and goals independently but sometimes consult with coworkers and supervisors.
  • Make most of their decisions and set nearly all their daily tasks and goals without speaking to a supervisor first.
  • Work in a somewhat competitive atmosphere in which monthly deadlines must be met.


  • Generally work a regular, 40-hour week.
  • May work longer hours to meet deadlines.

Career Wages and Outlook


Major employers:

  • Engineering firms
  • Navigation and measuring instruments firms
  • Aerospace products and parts manufacturers
  • Federal government agencies

Demand for this occupation will grow slowly. Employment of mechanical engineers is concentrated in manufacturing industries which are declining. The need for improved machinery and machine tools will increase demand. Also, emerging technologies in biotechnology, materials science, and nanotechnology will create new job opportunities.

Additional job opportunities will arise because a degree in mechanical engineering often can be applied in other engineering specialties. Many job openings should result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force.

Wages vary by employer and the engineer's level of training and responsibility. They generally make around $80,000 a year.

Mechanical engineers usually receive benefits. Typical benefits include paid vacation, sick leave, health and life insurance, and a retirement plan.

Career Related Occupations

The occupations listed below may have similar work duties, use similar skills, be in the same career ladder, have a similar level of education, or be related in another way.

- Chemists - Landscape Architects - Other forms of Engineering

Program of Study- Mechanical Engineering

Program Overview

Mechanical engineering programs prepare people to design and improve tools and machines.

Mechanical engineering programs include topics such as:

  • Manufacturing systems
  • Physical science
  • Power systems

Program Admission

You can prepare for this program by taking courses in high school that prepare you for college. This typically includes four years of English, three years of math, three years of social studies, and two years of science. Some colleges also require two years of a second language.

Admission to graduate programs is competitive. You need a bachelor's degree in engineering (or a significant amount of course work in engineering and physics), good grades, and good test scores.

Program Typical Course Work

This program typically includes courses in the following subjects:

  • Calculus
  • Chemistry
  • Design of Mechanical Elements
  • Dynamics
  • Electronic Circuits
  • Engineering Physics
  • English Composition
  • Fluid Mechanics
  • Introduction to Computer Science
  • Kinematics and Dynamics of Machines
  • Linear Differential Equations
  • Materials in Engineering Design
  • Mechanical Engineering Analysis
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Senior Design Project
  • Statistics
  • Thermodynamics

Schools that Offer my Program of Study

Minnesota State University, Mankato

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

University of Wisconsin - Madison

College Choice

University of Wisconsin - Madison

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College Info

  • Size and Location - University of Wisconsin is located in Madison, Wisconsin, with around 31,300 students attending.
  • Admission Requirements - The deadline to apply for the University of Wisconsin is February first. To apply, one must also complete two written statements along with other basic, universal information such as GPA and ACT.
  • College Expenses - Tuition at the University of Wisconsin is estimated at $9,273, Room and Board at $8,600, and other expenses are estimated to be another $4,000. It also costs $44 to apply.
  • Financial Aid - Being a State University, many of the scholarships at the UofW Madison are through the state, and can be need based, merit based, and through student employment.
  • Housing - The University of Wisconsin Madison offers many different types of housing, including male, female, and co-ed.
  • Activities - There are many different groups and clubs at Madison, including basically any sport, and music, which is important to me.
Welcome to Your New Home

Informational Interview


John Wellman


Food Processing Plant

Engineer/Engineer Supervisor


Answer the following questions about your experience.

Briefly record your thoughts and feelings about the workplace and the person you just visited.

The workplace was not what I had originally expected, but not in a bad way. I had not really known what to expect beforehand, and the whole production was very interesting to me. I could easily see the importance of the job Mr. Wellmen and the other engineers had in the plant.

What did you learn in the interview?

Other than the interview, I learned a lot about what goes in to the processing of soybeans, and about all of the steps in the process. But more importantly, I learned what it was like to be an engineer, specifically an agricultural engineer. I got to see what it was like on a daily basis, and what type of tasks they specifically carry out.

What did you like? What didn't you like?

I liked the sort of work that takes place, they find any problems and fix them when something goes wrong in the plant. They are always looking for ways to improve the system. One downside to it is that most of the work is inside, whether it be at a desk or in the plant.

Did you uncover concerns or advantages to this occupation?

One concern that I now have about this kind of career is that it can be extremely time consuming. The workers there are on call around the clock. But I also realized how secure and supportive the career can be.

What advice did you receive?

I received a lot of advice about what kind of classes I should look into taking, and what kind of degree I should get in college if I want to get into agricultural engineering.

Did you discover another occupation to explore?

In the interview and shadow I was not introduced to any new occupations that I hadn't already looked at and considered.

How was the work environment?

I think the work environment was okay, the work is with people, but not with may people. You work as a team, which sounds good to mu unless some of the people you are working with might not be the best people to work with. One thing that the environment is lacking is the outdoors, I love being outside, and the work done here is indoors, but that is something I can live with as I realize there are few jobs.

Do you think you would be happy in this occupation?

I think I could definitely be happy in this occupation.

Plans To Reach My Goal

  • Work hard to do well in school, and take classes related to Mechanical Engineer.
  • Get accepted into the college to specialize in Mechanical Engineering.
  • Continue Job Shadowing to ensure that this is what I want to do.
  • Volunteer at places where I can gain experience.
  • Get a Part Time job where I can gain experience and save money for college.
  • Work on Career Networking.
  • Get an internship.
  • Get an apprenticeship to learn more about the job and prepare myself.