What you need to know as a Mechanical Engineering Graduate
Mechanical engineering is one of the most broad and diverse fields within the engineering disciplines covering the design, construction, development, operation, maintenance and management of machines and mechanical equipment. Almost any company that designs, innovates and produces a product requires mechanical engineers, so graduates can find career opportunities in a wide variety of industries and working environments. With the past 5 years seeing 18.8% growth in employment for mechanical engineers, along with the expected slow but gradual growth to come in this sector1, there are many industrial and commercial companies on the look out for fresh graduates who have a degree in mechanical engineering.
What can I do with a degree in Mechanical Engineering?
As a broad engineering discipline, mechanical engineers have a versatile role. Mechanical engineers design power-producing machines (eg. electric generators), power-using machines (eg. air-conditioning systems), material-handling/manufacturing systems (eg. conveyor systems) and any other device that moves including everyday items/appliances and power tools. They are also involved in developing solutions to environmental problems.
Mechanical engineering graduates most commonly work in research and development, engineering services, manufacturing industries or with the federal government. The main job functions of a Mechanical Engineer exist in the areas of: Product Design, Research and Development, Manufacturing, Operations/Systems management and Energy planning.2
Typical Duties and Tasks:
- Using their fundamental engineering principles to analyse how mechanical/thermal devices might solve the problem.
- Using the computer to create, design, analyse or redesign mechanical/thermal devices and run simulations to see how the machine is expected to work.
- Developing, testing and analysing their designed prototypes, and making changes accordingly.
- Overseeing the manufacturing process of their product or design.
- A range of other tasks including: operations, sales and marketing and administration.
Industries/Sectors Mechanical Engineering Graduates can work in include:
- Air Conditioning
- Fast Moving Consumer Goods Industries
- Healthcare Technologies
- Insurance industries
- Railway travel
List of some specific mechanical engineering job titles3:
- Automotive engineer
- Biomedical engineer
- Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) engineer
- Nuclear engineer
- Robotics engineer
Positioning yourself optimally for graduate employers:
Academic Results: A good grade point average (GPA) is a good way to cut through competition and enter the first round of interviews. A good academic record is valued by leading employers of this sector, most of which require a copy of your academic transcript in your application.
Practical Skills: Industry experience and practical training in the form of work experience or a summer internship is paramount to graduates who are looking to secure a job upon graduation. (Most university however do incorporate these into the curriculum). “Soft skills” such as teamwork, co-operation and communication skills also aid in increasing a candidates employment value.
Bachelor’s degree vs Master’s Degree:
Potential careers for graduates with a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering depend upon the industry but are generally very promising, and entry-level mechanical engineers can begin with a starting salary of $55,500.1A master’s in Mechanical engineering allows university students to develop specialized technological knowledge and expertise, professional skills and management capabilities. A master’s degree is useful if you are considering a leadership managerial position at an engineering firm and viewed favorably upon if you choose to pursue a career in research and development. Graduates with a Master’s in Mechanical engineering may also receive higher salary than those with a bachelor degree if they work directly as engineers.4 Despite the monetary benefits, university students should weigh the cost of pursuing a master’s degree in the context of their own career aspirations.
United State’s Bureau of Labor Statistics claims that the best new jobs will go to those who continue their education to keep on top of technological innovation and advancements, and Australian mechanical engineering graduates should keep this in mind.
Mechanical Engineering Emerging Trends:
With the rising global population, mechanical engineers are sitting at the forefront of technological innovation that address key areas such as environment remediation, transport, farming and food/energy production, healthcare, sanitation and clean water. ASME’s report Global Summit on the Future of Mechanical Engineering has also projected that mechanical engineering will expand and innovate in the fields of nanotechnology and biotechnology, fields which are expected to dominate technological development in the coming two decades. The fore-mentioned fields are growing in importance and may well be the most cutting-edge disciplines in the coming years.
Top companies that are hiring Mechanical Engineering graduates in Australia:
For a comprehensive list of top employers, visit https://au.gradconnection.com/afr100/
1 Open.edu.au. Mechanical Engineers - Career Advice and Salary Guide - Open Universities Australia. 2015.
2 Me.eng.sunysb.edu. What Do Mechanical Engineers Do. 2015.
3 Worldwidelearn.com. Mechanical Engineering Major | Guide to Mechanical Engineer Degrees. 2015.
4 Everyday Life - Global Post. Engineering Bachelor's vs. Master's. 2015.