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What Does It Take to Be a Mechanical Design Engineer?

Becoming a mechanical design engineer isn't just something that happens overnight. Mechanical engineering experts spend years studying and exploring their discipline before they're able to join a team of professional engineers.

So what kind of training does the typical mechanical design engineer go through?

Pre-Education. Many engineers realize their interest at a young age, and focus on taking the right elective classes in high school. Advanced math, physics classes, and even metalworking and shop classes allow the budding mechanical design engineers to learn all they can about their trade before college. They have the added benefit of increasing a student's chances at getting into the right colllege.

Education. Engineering students in the United States must choose an undergraduate school that's accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology; there are roughly 275 colleges and universities in the nation accredited by ABET. Once in school, the mechanical design engineer takes a variety of courses that teach the fundamentals of engineering, including statistics, materials science, fluid mechanics, drafting and computer-aided design, and manufacturing procedures.

Choosing a Discipline. Like most branches of engineering, mechanical engineering features a broad range of sub-disciplines, including kinematics, structural analysis, robotics and more. For more information on this, see our article exploring mechanical engineering sub-disciplines.

Licensing. In order to become licensed professionals, engineers in the United States must pass a series of comprehensive exams and spend time working as an engineering intern with a licensed firm.

Experience. Perhaps the most important component of any engineer's development is the experience he gains while working on a variety of projects. It is here that the mechanical design engineer finds out his specialties, what he's good at, where his abilities can best be applied. This often means further internships, or joining the staff of an engineering firm where he can shadow more experienced engineers on big projects.

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