4 things to expect for the future of mechanical engineering

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Mechanical engineering is considered the broadest of all engineering disciplines, mainly due to the overlap of the field with other fields of study, such as civil, chemical and industrial engineering. As a result, mechanical engineers can be found in many industries working on a wide variety of projects.

The versatility of this field has historically led to rich job prospects for mechanical engineers, and so it is for the future. The employment of mechanical engineers is expected to grow by 4% per year between 2018 and 2028, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, they also mention that this rate will most likely favor those who keep abreast of the latest technological advancements.

While the basic principles of mechanical engineering, such as thermodynamics, fluid mechanics and machine design, are still valid, expertise in composites, mechatronics and nanotechnology is increasingly in demand.

A look at the future of mechanical engineering

These new fields, which are the result of modern advances, are prerequisites for several emerging and promising fields, including artificial intelligence, biomechatronics and nanotechnologies. Some of the areas where mechanical engineers are expected to be in high demand include:

Electric vehicles

The transportation sector continues to generate the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Growing pressures to use alternative energy sources have helped fuel the rise of electric vehicles. While mechanical engineers have always been essential in the automotive industry, their role is more crucial than ever.

Replacing the traditional internal combustion engine with cleaner battery-powered systems poses new challenges regarding torque and energy loss, as well as the design of mechatronics to support new electrical systems.

Additionally, as vehicle manufacturing becomes more automated, mechanical engineers will be central to robotics and assembly line design.

Nano-engineering

Nanotechnology refers to the manipulation of materials at the smallest level. This rapidly growing field is one that offers many opportunities for mechanical engineers.

In the years to come, mechanical engineers are expected to be an integral part of using nanotechnology to:

Biomechatronics

The role of mechanical engineers in robotics goes even further with the rapid growth of biomechatronics. This field, which seeks to merge the body and the machine, involves the design and testing of complex and complex device architectures that mimic the musculoskeletal design of the body.

Mechanical engineers will be mainly involved in the design of mechanical sensors, controllers and actuators for biomedical devices used in prosthetics and miniature medical implants. Besides the medical field, research is also being carried out on the use of biomechatronics in the military industry.

Manufacturing

Manufacturing is a constantly evolving field. Growing pressures to increase production efficiency while minimizing operating costs have fueled demand for new and innovative technologies.

Automation and robotics (an area in which mechanical engineers are crucial) continue to be essential in helping manufacturing industries meet consumer demand while maximizing profits.

However, according to the Huffington Post, despite the exponential growth of the manufacturing industry, many American manufacturers are struggling to fill vacancies for skilled workers, including engineers. This industry is therefore full of opportunities for professionals with a degree in mechanical engineering.

While new technologies have undoubtedly changed the engineering landscape, the future looks bright for the mechanical engineering industry. New fields of study and new subjects will favor engineering graduates. However, practicing professionals will need to keep abreast of current and future progress to avoid being left behind.

Image Credit: Oil and Gas Photographer / Shutterstock

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