Mechanical engineering


Accordingto Johnson and Sherwin, mechanical engineering can be described asthe “branch of engineering concerned with the design, manufacture,installation, and operation of engines and machines” (1). To dothis effectively, the engineer is expected to analyse the product inorder to be able to evaluate its performance and to validate itssuitability to perform its duty in terms of strength. Therefore, theanalysis of mechanical engineering components and systems includes acomprehension of the tenets of the below listed themes used inmechanical science:

  • Statics

  • Dynamics

  • Solid mechanics

  • Thermofluid mechanics

  • Materials science

Theabove topics are presented and discussed in the following chapters.

Theterm “mechanical engineering” has was created in the nineteenthcentury. Prior to that, there existed two recognised divisions ofengineering. These were: military and non-military engineering. Thetwo were linked to the road construction, canals, and bridges. Thecivil engineering practices were acknowledged by the formation in theUnited Kingdom of the Institution of Civil Engineers, the pioneerengineering society established in 1818 Thomas Telford served as itsfirst President. It is documented that the spread of railway in the1830s onwards led to the further understanding of the differentbranches of engineering. In this case, the construction of viaducts,bridges, and tunnels were classified as civil engineering. Themanufacture and maintenance of locomotives especially those usingsteam involved a distinct set of skills. Due to this, the Institutionof Mechanical Engineers was formed in Birmingham in 1847 GeorgeStephenson was its first president. Later in 1877, the headquartersof the society moved from Birmingham to London.

Inthe 19thcentury era, the steam engines were very influential in the growth ofmechanical engineering. It is utilized not only in transport, butalso in industrial applications. Even today, steam engines are stilluseful in the generation of electricity in nuclear power and fossilfuelled stations. In the 20thcentury, the mechanical engineering field has broadened, encompassinginternal combustion machines, machine tools, drive mechanisms, andrefrigeration and air conditioning plants. Johnson and Sherwinfurther note that modern society would difficult without itemsmanufactured through mechanical engineering. For instance, at home, aflick of a button controlled switch links the entire electric circuitleading to the functioning of all electrical appliances. This simpleprocess involves a mechanical system essential in a thermal powerstation. In addition, wind turbines and hydroelectric systems thatare used in the renewable energy sector are dependent on mechanicalengineering principles. Due to the above functions of the mechanicalengineering, it is correct to assert that, this field is heavilyrelied upon by major operations that are essential in today’s life.

Purposefor studying Mechanical Engineering

Themain objective for learning mechanical engineering is to enable astudent solve critical problems. Therefore, the learner must be wellversed with the physical behaviour of the situation underconsideration or the device. To be able to evaluate a device, it ishugely significant for an engineer to have the ability to design thesituation. A model described as the means of representing the actualsituation or device. The most common type of model used inengineering is undoubtedly the ‘scale’ model. For instance, anaeroplane manufacturer would hesitate to build a standard prototypewithout conducting initial experiment on scale models in the windchannel to investigate the performance characteristics.

Asmuch as scale models are highly utilized in mechanical engineering,their use is not as common as it sounds. For example, when a companyconstructs a new combustion engine, diminutive importance can beascertained from a trial on a small-scale model of the combustionengine. This is a result to the ‘scale effect’. The loss offraction and heat for a model are correspondingly greater than for afull-built engine. The difference is attributed to the surface areaof an engine, as a proportion of its enclosed volume, increases asthe same component becomes less in size leading to the proportionallyordinate losses. In other words, as the size increases losses arereduced. This offers the explanation why some larger animals like therhino, have low thermal losses and are inclined to ‘overheat’ asa result.

Wickertand Lewis bring another dimension to the mechanical engineeringsubject. They analyse the requirements needed for a person to qualifyas a mechanical engineer Aerotek:

  • An individual must adapt to situations of working in a fast-paced, collaborative, surrounding with emphasis quick prototyping and fielding of capabilities

  • Skills in the use of CAD designing software

  • Relevant skills in the formation of proposal development, detailed design, requirements definition, support, analysis and testing (20)

Furtheranalysis show that mechanical engineering field is the third largestfield among the 5 major engineering disciplines. It is often knownfor presenting the maximum flexibility in making career choices. Itis noted that, in 2008 alone, an estimated 239,000 people gotemployed as mechanical engineers in the United States (wickert &ampLewis 20-21).


Tosum up this paper, it is correct to say that mechanical engineeringis a vital component of the modern society. Its use encompasses allaspects of life. From transport, medicine, physics, technology,Aeronautics, and other important subjects, its principles are widelyborrowed. Consequently, efforts should be made to improve its uptakeamong prospective high school and high teaching students so as toimprove its importance to the community. The more there exist thesekind of engineers, the more innovations will be introduced.


Dym,Clive L., et al. &quotEngineering design thinking, teaching, andlearning.&quotJournalof Engineering Education&nbsp94.1(2005): 103-120.

Johnson,Anthony D., and Keith Sherwin.&nbspFoundationsof mechanical engineering.CRC Press, 1996.

Sukumar,Natarajan, et al. &quotExtended finite element method forthree‐dimensionalcrack modelling.&quot&nbspInternationalJournal for Numerical Methods in Engineering&nbsp48.11 (2000): 1549-1570.

Wickert,Jonathan, and Kemper Lewis.&nbspAnintroduction to mechanical engineering.Cengage learning, 2012.