Mechanical engineering is the discipline that applies engineering, physics, engineering mathematics, and materials science principles to design, analyze, manufacture, and maintain mechanical systems. It is one of the oldest and broadest of the engineering disciplines.
The mechanical engineering field requires an understanding of core areas including mechanics, dynamics, thermodynamics, materials science, structural analysis and electricity. In addition to these core principles, mechanical engineers use tools such as computer-aided design (CAD), computer-aided manufacturing (CAM),and product life cycle management to design and analyze manufacturing plants, industrial equipment and machinery,heating and cooling systems, transport systems, aircraft, watercraft, robotics, medical devices, weapons and others. It is the branch of engineering that involves design, production and operation of machinery.
Mechanical engineering emerged as a field during the Industrial Revolution in Europe in the 18th century; however, its development can be traced back several thousand years around the world. In the 19th century, developments in physics led to the development of mechanical engineering science. Mechanical engineers are pursuing developments in such areas as composites, mechatronics, and nanotechnology. It also overlaps with aerospace engineering, metallurgical engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering, manufacturing engineering, chemical engineering, industrial engineering, and other engineering disciplines to varying amounts. Mechanical engineers may also work in the field of biomedical engineering, specifically with biomechanics, transport phenomena, biomechatronics, bionanotechnology, and modelling of biological systems.
Computer Aided Engineering programs commonly used by mechanical engineers include product lifecycle management (PLM) tools and analysis tools used to perform complex simulations. Analysis tools may be used to predict product response to expected loads, including fatigue life and manufacturability. These tools include finite element analysis (FEA), computational fluid dynamics (CFD), and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM).
Using CAE programs, a mechanical design team can quickly and cheaply iterate the design process to develop a product that tries to optimize cost, performance, and other constraints. No physical prototype need be created until the design nears completion, allowing hundreds or thousands of designs to be evaluated, instead of a relative few. In addition, CAE analysis programs can model complicated physical phenomena which cannot be solved by hand, such as viscoelasticity, complex contact between mating parts, or non-Newtonian flows.
Micron-scale mechanical components such as springs, gears, fluidic and heat transfer devices are fabricated from a variety of substrate materials such as silicon, glass and polymers like SU8. Examples of MEMS components are the accelerometers that are used as car airbag sensors, modern cell phones, gyroscopes for precise positioning and microfluidic devices used in biomedical applications.
Friction stir welding, a new type of welding, was discovered in 1991 by The Welding Institute (TWI). The innovative steady state (non-fusion) welding technique joins materials previously un-weldable, including several aluminum alloys. It plays an important role in the future construction of airplanes, potentially replacing rivets. Current uses of this technology to date include welding the seams of the aluminum main Space Shuttle external tank, Orion Crew Vehicle test article, Boeing Delta II and Delta IV Expendable Launch Vehicles and the SpaceX Falcon 1 rocket, armor plating for amphibious assault ships, and welding the wings and fuselage panels of the new Eclipse 500 aircraft from Eclipse Aviation among an increasingly growing pool of uses.
Composites or composite materials are a combination of materials which provide different physical characteristics than either material separately. Composite material research within mechanical engineering typically focuses on designing (and, subsequently, finding applications for) stronger or more rigid materials while attempting to reduce weight, susceptibility to corrosion, and other undesirable factors. Carbon fiber reinforced composites, for instance, have been used in such diverse applications as spacecraft and fishing rods.
Mechatronics is the combination of mechanical engineering, electronics engineering, and software engineering. The discipline of mechatronics began as a way to combine mechanical principles with electrical engineering. Mechatronic concepts are used in the majority of electro-mechanical systems. Typical electro-mechanical sensors used in mechatronics are strain gauges, thermocouples, and pressure transducers.
Finite Element Analysis is a computational tool used to estimate stress, strain, and deflection of solid bodies. It uses a mesh setup with user-defined sizes to measure physical quantities at a node. The more nodes there are, the higher the precision. This field is not new, as the basis of Finite Element Analysis (FEA) or Finite Element Method (FEM) dates back to 1941. But the evolution of computers has made FEA/FEM a viable option for analysis of structural problems. Many commercial codes such as NASTRAN, ANSYS, and ABAQUS are widely used in industry for research and the design of components. Some 3D modeling and CAD software packages have added FEA modules. In the recent times, cloud simulation platforms like SimScale are becoming more common. Other techniques such as finite difference method (FDM) and finite-volume method (FVM) are employed to solve problems relating heat and mass transfer, fluid flows, fluid surface interaction, etc.
Computational fluid dynamics, usually abbreviated as CFD, is a branch of fluid mechanics that uses numerical methods and algorithms to solve and analyze problems that involve fluid flows. Computers are used to perform the calculations required to simulate the interaction of liquids and gases with surfaces defined by boundary conditions. With high-speed supercomputers, better solutions can be achieved. Ongoing research yields software that improves the accuracy and speed of complex simulation scenarios such as turbulent flows. Initial validation of such software is performed using a wind tunnel with the final validation coming in full-scale testing, e.g. flight tests.
Program Outcomes [POs]:
Engineering Graduates will be able to