Mechanical engineering technology is used to design, test, and operate the mechanical processes that make both machines and products. Mechanical engineers manipulate objects by using the natural forces that operate predictably according to physical laws. They deal with all kinds of movement. The types of mechanical engineering technology used depend on what kind of natural forces are being manipulated.
Hydraulic, thermodynamic, electromagnetic, frictional, gravitational, and aerodynamic forces are some examples of the effects of natural laws that operate within our universe. An engineer may use any one or more of these forces to solve a mechanical challenge. Mechanical engineers develop the processes and products that bring technological improvements to society. They both solve problems and create new devices and technologies.
For example, an hydraulic engineer might develop a machine that harnesses the power of hydraulic engineering technology in order to operate electricity-producing turbines. He or she might also devise ways to measure and control rates of water flow to create a mechanical process. Hydraulic force could be employed to cut an object using a water jet, for example, without producing heat that would deform the object during the cutting process. Thermodynamic engineers use mechanical engineering technology that harnesses the power of thermodynamics to convert heat to energy and vice versa. One result of thermodynamic engineering was the development of the steam engine.
Aerospace engineers analyze aerodynamic forces in designing objects and machines that may increase or reduce friction in machine operations. Through the design process, the engineer gains an understanding of the effect of these forces. He or she uses this understanding to predict and control the operation of airflow on objects, when force is applied to an object. An arrow shot from a bow is an example of a mechanically engineered solution to aerodynamic forces operating on design of the arrow.
Aerodynamic engineering is also used extensively in the automobile and aerospace industries to reduce friction and thereby use less energy to propel an object. Nanotechnology is a new area for mechanical engineering technology. A nano engineer employs physical laws at the molecular level, building tiny machines on a nano scale. Nano particles are measured by the billionths of a meter.
Many colleges and universities offer programs of study for mechanical engineering at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Continuing education is also important for mechanical engineers, as new technology continues to develop, with new materials fabricated to solve mechanical engineering challenges like increasing fuel efficiency in the transportation sector. Composite materials such as carbon fiber reinforced plastic have tensile strength, yet are lighter than metals. Use of these materials in transportation decreases fuel consumption. Mechanical engineering technology helps engineers design more efficiency in industrial processes used around the world.