Mechanical engineering services might be simple for a good engineering consulting firm to provide, but the path that brings a dedicated student to his or her mechanical engineering degree is anything but easy. All engineers must have something beyond a journeyman’s mastery of physics, but to graduate and become accredited, all mechanical engineers must have a thorough understanding of a variety of engineering principles specific to their chosen field.
Here’s a short (and by no means complete) list of the sciences one must master to be able to provide top-quality mechanical engineering services.
Mechanics. You might be thinking, “Well, of course.” But understanding mechanics means more than remembering the six simple machines. Mechanics is primarily concerned with what happens to physical objects when they’re subjected to any of a wide variety of forces, including (but not limited to) gravity and electromagnetism. Mechanics is so vital to providing good mechanical engineering services because it’s the granddaddy of all physics disciplines, dealing as it does with the macroscopic world we see with our eyes (as opposed to quantum mechanics, which deals with theoretical particles too small, and too busy traveling through ten-dimensional space, for us to see).
Kinematics. Kinematics deals with motion. When you’ve contracted a mechanical engineer to design and build a complicated new device for your production floor, he or she will likely rely on a firm foundation in kinematics to determine how the moving parts will interact with each other. Angular velocity and acceleration will come into play, along with relative velocity, fixed rectangular coordinates and a host of other terms most laymen don’t understand too well.
Thermodynamics. This fundamental branch of physics deals with the transfer, conservation and loss of energy within systems. It comes into play in several engineering disciplines, from mechanical engineering to heating and ventilation engineering. Engineers use the laws of thermodynamics to predict how efficient machines will be, how much excess heat they’ll generate, and how they’ll wear down over time.
Energy. Mechanical engineering services depend on a complete understanding of how machines use, generate or conserve energy. Because the laws of physics never change, systems will always conserve energy, even if it’s converted from one form to another. So when a mechanical engineer designs a new system or machine, he or she must keep track of all of the energy it uses or produces, making sure none of it is wasted. A good understanding of energy helps an engineer design a more efficient system.
Statics and Dynamics. These branches of physics describe movement, and the lack thereof: While statics concerns itself with forces that do not cause motion, and how non-moving parts absorb or transmit those forces, dynamics concerns the motion of bodies in a system. A good mechanical engineer will be able to use his or her knowledge of statics and dynamics to predict how the moving and nonmoving parts of machines will interact.