The Many Sub-Disciplines of Mechanical Engineering

Being the person who designs, creates, builds and maintains machinery is what being a Mechanical Engineer is about. It covers a huge range of sub-disciplines. If you’re a skilled Mechanical Engineer you could choose from any of the options you like the best when getting into the field. Most mechanical engineering schools will give you the opportunity of undertaking further study to focus on specialized areas.

Here we will look at the five sub-disciplines that go beyond the basic mechanical engineering degree and give you a brief overview of the following: Marine Engineering, Robotics, Acoustical Engineering, Nanotech, Biomechatronics.

Biomechatronics one of the most exciting fields of engineering of late. These engineers are creating cyborgs by integrating mechanical elements into biological parts. They focus on the interaction between the body and mechanical devices, so they must first understand to great detail, how the human body works.

If you want to look at becoming a biomechatronic engineer, your best bet is to contact an engineering school such as MIT and make enquiries, as not all schools will offer biomechatronics. This form of engineering constitutes of many disciplines all rolled into one: electrical, industrial, biomedical, computer and mechanical engineering. Currently the big focus of Biomechatronics lies with ventricular assistance devices and artificial hearts. These engineers may work with Robotics Experts in the future.

Robotics Experts are becoming a regular fixture in the industry, but their work is still very exciting. Robotics has a long way to go. The advances we are seeing in creating robots and robotic limb replacements are getting more and more advanced. The future is very bright for Robotics Engineers.

Nanotechology engineers are very popular today, due to the push back at the beginning of the century. You won’t get to build a swarm of world-eating bacteria (although with the right training in nanotechnology you could) but instead you will be designing computer chips. Most of the results of nanotech are found in things like makeup and lotion. But don’t count this field out – some think the cure to currently incurable diseases (such as cancer) lie within nanotechnology.

What do nanotechnology engineers do exactly? In a nutshell, these engineers apply the concepts of chemistry, electrical engineering as well as quantum physics and biology to manipulate and create objects at a molecular level (at an extremely tiny scale). The nanotechnology field is multi-disciplinary and incredibly broad in itself.

Graduates can end up specializing in several different areas, from creating nano-bio-systems to alter DNA fragments to nano-electronics where they create the latest innovative materials needed for tomorrow’s technological advances in hardware.

Acoustical Engineering focuses on sound – creating or suppressing it. Some call this an artistic engineering discipline. Your job may be to improve the sound of newly created musical instruments, or to prevent sounds from one area of a building from bleeding into another.

A Marine Engineer is likely to work on a ship, responsible for the HVAC, lighting, propulsion, sewage, etc. Their jobs may require them to work with and build ships, do material cost estimations and so forth, but that’s not all. Marine engineers also specialize in working with machinery such as engines, heaters, lubrication, gears and also pumps, and dealing with a particular area of the ship’s functionality.

We will be covering the other inter-related disciplines of mechanical engineering in further articles, so stay tuned.