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What is a Mechanical Engineering Technology Degree?
Mechanical engineering technologists and technicians support the engineering activities of design, manufacture, installation, testing, operation, and maintenance of machines and mechanical equipment. While the mechanical engineers who lead them are concerned with mathematical and scientific theory and innovation, their work is about application and implementation. It follows, therefore, that mechanical engineering technology programs focus on applied learning.
Students in these programs learn how to read and create engineering drawings. They learn about the strengths of materials, machine design, how to select and use tools, modeling, manufacturing processes for the production of mechanical components, and more. In short, they learn how to solve technical problems with a hands-on approach.
Employers may prefer to hire candidates who have completed an engineering technology program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).
Associate Degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology – Two Year Duration
At the associate level, mechanical engineering technology students gain a working knowledge in the fundamentals of materials, structures, fluids, power, machine design, manufacturing, thermodynamics, HVAC, quality, and instrumentation and control. They also learn to use current computer software. Graduates with this degree are typically equipped to work as technicians in the field, under the supervision of a technologist.
Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology – Four Year Duration
Bachelor’s programs in mechanical engineering technology produce technologists, who have a wider range of responsibilities than technicians and handle most of the more complex work. These programs take a more in-depth look at mechanical engineering concepts, resulting in a more advanced understanding of areas such as hydraulics, pneumatics, dynamics, instrumentation, thermodynamics, and heat transfer.
The bachelor’s program typically incorporates more laboratory and project work and provides a more extensive practicum experience.
Despite the difference describe above, the core curriculum of both associate and bachelor’s level programs in mechanical engineering technology is comprised of courses like the following:
- Engineering Graphics I – how to read and create engineering drawings using 2D software; topics include drafting principles, orthographic projection, dimensioning, sectional views, detail drawings, assembly drawings, and drawing call-outs (lines of text that point to and identify a feature of an illustration or technical drawing)
- Materials Technology – examination of macroscopic and microscopic properties of engineering materials including ferrous and nonferrous metals, polymer, and ceramics; topics include inspection and testing (both destructive and non-destructive testing), corrosion, and the effects of microstructure, alloying elements, and heat treatment on mechanical behavior
- Statics – study of the basic static forces on mechanical structures, analysis of vectors, and couples and moments* in two and three dimensions (coplanar and non-coplanar); free body diagrams are used to analyze trusses, frames, and machines
(*a couple is two equal forces which act in opposite directs on an object but not through the same point so they produce a turning effect; the moment (or torque) of a couple is calculated by multiplying the size of one of the forces by the perpendicular distance between the two forces)
- Application of Engineering Principles – measurements, force and motion, energy, simple harmonic motion, thermal energy, waves, sound, light and optics; using an engineering problem-solving approach to subject material
- Mechanical Fabrication – machine processes and the selection and use of tools; students will use milling machines, lathes, other fabrication equipment, and measuring instruments; topics include cutting techniques, forming processes, bonding, welding, and safety procedures
- Technical Writing and Communications I – students will write a range of documents, including summaries, memos, letter, employment applications, instructions, and technical manuals; they will learn to adapt their writing to reach different audiences and to plan, draft, and edit effectively
- Mathematics for Mechanical Engineering Technology I – introduction to scientific calculators, trigonometry, the laws of sines and cosines, and applications of vectors to mechanics; mathematical functions and graphical description of data; the use of linear, quadratic, trigonometric, exponential, and logarithmic functions with applications relating to component design, areas, volumes, and moments of standard figures and composite; emphasis on industrial applications in mechanical engineering
- Engineering Graphics II – 3D modeling of parts and mechanical assemblies; topics include creation of part models and assemblies, production of detail and assembly drawings, documentation of drawing revisions, and advanced tolerance methods including Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing (a language of symbols and standards designed and used by engineers and manufacturers to describe a product and facilitate communication between entities working together to produce something)
- Dynamics – students will solve dynamics problems by employing kinematics to describe motion, and kinetics to resolve the associated forces and torques; areas of study include friction, mass properties, (moments of inertia), acceleration, and Newton’s laws applied to rigid bodies that are undergoing linear and angular motion; energy methods and conservation laws are also covered
- Fluid Mechanics – the study of fluid statics and dynamics with applications in mechanical engineering; topics include fluid viscosity, pressure measurement, manometry, continuity and energy equations, Bernoulli’s equation, laminar and turbulent flows, pumps, flow rates, and flow measurements
- Strength of Materials – direct, torsion, bending, shear, and thermal stresses and deformation; beam deflection, indeterminate beams, and columns; mechanical components are analyzed considering loading conditions, stress concentrations, and safety factors
- Manufacturing Processes – forming, foundry, machining, and joining processes; plastic and reinforced polymer processing; the proper selection of manufacturing processes for production of mechanical components
- Manufacturing Applications – standard approaches in the design and specification of jigs and fixtures for manufacturing; catalogue selection of components and current drafting practices will be used to generate CAD drawings; the designed jig and fixtures will be fabricated in the lab; students will also study the design and analysis of bolted and welded connections
- Mathematics for Mechanical Engineering Technology II – complex applications in mechanical engineering are investigated; topics include differential calculus, integral calculus, areas and volumes, and numerical integration; introduction to statistics, frequency distributions, probability, statistical inference, and confidence levels
- Welding – the theory of welding practice and hands-on experience with welding techniques; welding codes and standards; standard weld inspection and testing techniques will be performed
- Machine Design – mechanical component design and analysis including connections (bolts and welds), failure and fatigue theories, shafts, gears, belt drives, chain drives, other power transmission and drive systems, plain bearings, antifriction bearings, clutches, brakes, and springs; selection of components from manufacturers’ catalogues is emphasized
- Technology Management and Quality – project management, lean production systems, process improvement techniques, and quality management systems; current software is used for the application of project management, statistical process control, problem solving, and continuous improvement of production processes; current quality standards will be introduced including International Standards Organizations (ISO)
- Thermodynamics – topics include gas laws, equations of state, mass conservation, and the first and second laws of thermodynamics; applications of thermodynamic principles will be used to examine assorted processes and cycles with an emphasis on steam power systems, gas power cycles, performance and efficiency of processes and systems, heat engines, refrigeration, and heat pump cycles
- Hydraulics and Pneumatics – the design of hydraulic and pneumatic (concerned with the mechanical properties of gases) systems as applied to mechanical devices; topics include hydraulics and pneumatics equipment and components, control circuits and schematics, pumps and compressors, heat and energy loss, and flow control; current software is used to produce and simulate hydraulic and pneumatic systems
- Engineering Graphics III –3D solid modeling of parts and mechanical assemblies; students learn to create complex mechanical parts and assemblies and to apply standard tolerancing methods; students will design a mechanical assembly and create production drawings
- Automation – introduction to design of production and manufacturing automation technologies; topics are part-identification systems, feed systems, conveyance systems, work-cell design, assembly line design, package finishing lines, automation sequencing, commissioning, and analytical troubleshooting
- Electronic Technology I – introduction to electrical laws and theorems; magnetic and electromagnetic field concepts; AC theory; transformers; three-phase AC circuits; DC motors, generators and controls; batteries; analog and digital circuit devices; and industrial control circuits
- Engineering Graphics IV – additional topics in solid modeling: file management, working with sheet metal designs, and analyzing the motion of mechanisms; student project creating a moderately sized assembly using solid modeling software
- Technical Writing and Communications for Mechanical Engineering –further development of technical writing and speaking skills; students will apply research techniques to produce informal and formal reports, proposals, and case analyses; oral presentations focused on industrial applications
- Operations Management - operations and management issues with application to mechanical engineering; topics include contract law, finance, economics, and consequences of business decisions, cost estimating, capacity planning, constraint management, supply chain management, inventory control, and material resource planning
- Applied Thermodynamics and HVAC – heat transfer, heat exchangers, heat transfer systems, refrigeration systems, psychrometry, and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) processes; industrial applications are emphasized
- Computer-Aided Manufacturing – current CAD / CAM (computer-aided design / computer-aided manufacturing) software for CNC (computer numerical control) machine programming; students are introduced to the programming and operation of CNC equipment, including lathes and milling machines
- Robotics and CIM – the design and specification of robotic and computer integrated manufacturing (CIM) systems; students program both the simulation of robot work cells and real robots, for applications in material handling, machine loading, processing, and assembly operations; machine-vision systems are also introduced
- Electronics Technology II – topics in analog and digital electronic circuits; industrial electronic control devices and circuits; DC electrical machine applications; three-phase induction motor applications and synchronous machine applications; stepper motor applications; programmable controllers; and transducers
Degrees Similar to Mechanical Engineering Technology
This degree field teaches students to use computer programs to create specialized drawings that are used in engineering, construction, and manufacturing.
Industrial Engineering Technology
Engineering technology programs teach the engineering skills required to help industrial engineers solve problems affecting manufacturing layout or production. Common classes are computers for engineering technology, construction methodologies, structural systems, strength of materials, and technical drawing.
Machine Shop Technology
Machinists support manufacturing industries by making and modifying metal parts. Degree programs in machine shop technology teach students about the machining industry’s production methods, materials, and processes.
Students of mechanical engineering learn how to research, design, develop, and test mechanical and thermal devices, including tools, sensors, engines, and machines. These devices serve many industries, including the aerospace, medical, energy, and manufacturing sectors.
In addition to coursework in engineering and design, degree programs in the field include classes in mathematics, life sciences, and physical sciences.
Skills You’ll Learn
- Active listening
- Attention to detail
- Collaboration and teamwork
- Computer skills
- Critical thinking
- Hand drawing and computer-aided design (CAD)
- Manual dexterity
- Mechanical / machinery operation skills
- Problem solving
- Technical design skills
What Can You Do with a Mechanical Engineering Technology Degree?
Due to the diversity of the mechanical engineering technology discipline, its graduates work in a variety of industries. They are hired by consulting engineering firms, manufacturing and mining companies, equipment distributors, utilities and power plants, transportation companies, municipalities, and government agencies. Opportunities exist in the areas of:
- Product design (examples: machine design, toy design, packaging and container design)
- Specification, installation, and maintenance of equipment
- Cost estimation
- Technical sales and support
- Quality management
- Systems inspection and testing
- Production planning
- CAD / CAM robotics
- Research and development
Here are some sample job titles:
- Designer, Machine Tool
- Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Technician
- Inspector, Technical-Mechanical
- Installer / Repairer, Robotics Systems
- Technician, Equipment Development
- Technician, House Automation
- Technician, Power Equipment Design
- Technician, Robotics Servicing
- Technician, Thermal Station
- Technologist, Aeronautical
- Technologist, Automation
- Technologist, Cryogenic Engineering
- Technologist, Vibration
- Technologist, Wind Tunnel Test
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