Indulge a Talent for Tinkering with Mechanical Engineering

Do you ever wonder who is responsible for developing the latest gear, gadgets and tools we use in our daily lives? These products are designed and created by mechanical engineers. If you have a passion for invention or a talent for making things work, then an online degree program in mechanical engineering can offer you the specialized training you need to work within this highly creative and fast-growing industry. An online program in mechanical engineering can expand on your current degree in engineering. The graduate program helps you obtain essential skills necessary for performing in this field. Additionally, you can even choose a specialty within a specialty as mechanical engineering students can choose to focus their learning on one of a number of individual areas of study such as robotics, biomechanics, fuel technology and many others.

Mechanical Engineering Degree Information

Students will learn how to use computer-aided engineering (CAE) tools to build designs. CAD, or computer-aided design, creates 2D and 3D designs for products. These programs help design teams develop better products more quickly without having to make a physical prototype until near completion. This way, engineers can examine thousands of designs without making drastic changes to the project.

MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Stanford University, Georgia Institute of Technology, UC Berkeley, University of Michigan, Purdue University and the University of Minnesota are just some of the top mechanical engineering schools in the country. Degree programs should be accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Students should look into internships while studying as a way to gain practical experience. Many classes will require students to work on research projects in order to practice problem solving in a real-world situation.

Bachelor Of Science

Earning a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (B.S. in ME) teaches students quantitative methods, problem solving and design skills using analytical and creative thinking. Coursework involves rigorous studying in mechanics, materials, fluids, thermodynamics, internal dynamic systems stress analysis, heat transfer, computer integrated manufacturing and control theory, along with various labs, designs and research projects meant to provide a practical understanding of how to apply theoretical knowledge.

Master of Science

A Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MSME) prepares students for realistic scenarios in the work force with simulations and design as well as makes students research, develops and designs an original thesis. The coursework will be more advanced and specialized, such as classes in elasticity, micro and nanoscale fluid dynamics, computational mechanics, turbulent flows, robotics and robotic manipulation, mechanics of advanced materials and design and analysis of microsystems. There are some schools that offer joint degree programs, where the student earns his bachelorís and masterís at the same time, while other schools offer online masterís degrees, like at the University of Southern California.

Further Education

Students can continue their education by aiming to earn a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering. Doctoral candidates will need to already have a masterís degree in engineering and take qualifying exams in several chosen subjects such as dynamics, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, structural mechanics, heat and mass transfer or design. They will also need to develop and present an original thesis.


The fundamentals of mechanical engineering require advanced mathematics, including calculus, differential equations, linear algebra and differential geometry, in addition to basic chemistry and physics concepts.

A mechanical engineering degree will include a core curriculum in instrumentation and measurement, thermodynamics, statics and dynamics, heat transfer, strengths of materials and solid mechanics with instruction in CAD and CAM, energy conversion, HVAC, fluid dynamics and mechanics, kinematics, hydraulics and pneumatics, control theory and engineering design. Other possible classes include experimental engineering, mechanical design and manufacturing, theories of machines, stress analysis and mechanical vibrations.

Many programs offer other specialized classes in subjects such as transport and logistics, mechatronics or robotics, automotive engineering, fuel technology, cryogenics, biomechanics, vibration, optics and more.

Certification For Mechanical Engineering

It is not mandatory in the profession, but mechanical engineering graduates can choose to obtain licensure by the government to ensure they possess technical knowledge to practice engineering. Engineers have to pass a comprehensive Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, work a specific time as an Engineering Intern (EI) and pass the Principles and Practice or Practicing Engineer exam. The benefit of having an engineering license is that only Professional Engineers have the ability to approve project designs of bridges, plants and electric power.

Choosing A Focus

Mechanical engineering covers many disciplines, whether they relate directly to mechanical engineering or if they deal with engineering and a mix of other subjects. Students will have the chance to take courses related to these specialized fields, which they can continue studying in-depth.

Mechanics studies force and its effect on matter, particularly in analyzing the acceleration and deformation, both elastic and plastic, of objects under loads or stresses. Statics and dynamics deal with this subject further, examining non-moving bodies under known loads and how forces affect it. Mechanics of materials observes how different materials deform under stress, while fluid mechanics studies how fluids react to forces.

Kinematics studies the motion of bodies, or objects, and systems, or groups of objects, without paying attention to the forces causing motion. Mechatronics and robotics integrates electrical and mechanical engineering into a hybrid system, like in a DVD player. Structural analysis examines how and why objects fail. Thermodynamics studies energy and its use through a system, such as with changing energy from one form to another.

Career Opportunities

The career opportunities for mechanical engineers are specific, but not necessarily limited. Both the government and private companies need engineers, and mechanical engineering and aerospace engineering are closely tied, so graduates should consider jobs in the aerospace and aircraft industry as an aeronautical drafter. Since mechanical engineering focuses on systems, a job as a stress analyst, solar energy systems designer, metallurgist, heat transfer technician or circuit design engineer are all very possible career paths.

Earning Potential

So many industries need mechanical engineers that the job growth rate will remain steady, if not faster than average. The median starting salary for mechanical engineers with a bachelorís degree is $50,236, but some years of experience will push that number up to the average salary of $63,000. Earning a masterís or doctorate degree earns graduates an average salary of $59,880 and $68,299 respectively.

Mechanical Engineering Degree FAQs

What Is Mechanical Engineering?

Mechanical engineering is the science of designing and creating mechanical systems, tools and related products. Individuals who successfully earn their master's degree in mechanical engineering obtain employment in a wide range of industry fields such as manufacturing, defense, aeronautics and many others.

What Topics Do Online Mechanical Engineering Programs Cover?

Most online mechanical engineering degree programs will place an emphasis on advanced mathematics, solid mechanics, statistics, physics, drafting, hydraulics, energy conversion, thermodynamics and other related areas of study. However, every online program is unique and some may offer a different curriculum than others. Therefore, before you make your enrollment decision, be sure to research the program's directives or contact the admissions office with any questions you may have regarding the program's curriculum.

What Types of Online Degrees Are Available in Mechanical Engineering?

Online programs in mechanical engineering are for students looking to advance their education in engineering with a master's degree. Currently, students considering this specialized area of study are required to have already completed a bachelor's degree in engineering.

Why Is an Online Degree Program the Best Way to Learn Mechanical Engineering?

Online degree programs allow for complete flexibility in your learning schedule. This means that you do not have to worry about taking time off from work or forfeiting your job to pursue your academic goals. By enrolling in an online degree program in mechanical engineering, you can continue to work your job and take your classes in your own free time.

In addition, if you plan to stay with your current company, many times, your employer may offer continued education benefits like tuition reimbursement. Check with your human resources department to find out more about job-related benefits for continued education.

Will Potential Employers Respect My Online Degree in Mechanical Engineering?

Most online programs are designed, developed and provided by accredited colleges and universities. As a result, your degree will earn equal recognition and respect from industry professionals.

Today, because so many working individuals are returning to school to advance in current careers or start new career paths, online degree programs are increasing in popularity. Employers understand that fact and will often seek candidates who have already proved their dedication by attending school while working a full-time job.

Mechanical Engineering Student Guide

Mechanical engineers is the branch of engineering involving applying physics principles for design, analysis, manufacturing and maintaining mechanical systems in order to implement designs for engines, motor vehicles, power plants and structures, as well as moving machines, mechanisms and robots. This study of engineering focuses on key concepts such as kinematics, energy, mechanics and thermodynamics and has a solid foundation of mathematical skills and science courses.

Mechanical Engineering Books

Although there are a lot of hands-on projects and simulations in mechanical engineering studies, there is also a lot of textbook reading required. The introductory classes will use basic texts, while specialized courses will pull from textbooks, articles and outside readings. A few of the textbooks students may encounter in their studies include "An Introduction to Mechanical Engineering" by Jonathan Wickert, "Fundamentals of Engineering Thermodynamics" by M.J. Moran and H.N. Shapiro and "Engineering Mechanics: Dynamics" by J.L. Meriam and L.G. Kraige.

Mechanical Engineering Articles And Journals

Part of being a mechanic engineering major is developing new designs, which will require a lot of research. Head to the school library first to find some resources that will help write research papers or find references for project designs. WilsonWeb and Web of Science are good databases to start searching. The Journal of Mechanical Design, Sound and Vibration, Mechanics Based Design of Structures and Machines and Mechanics of Advanced Materials and Structure are just a few journals students can use as a reference or resource for research.

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