What they do
Mechanical engineers design, develop and make tools, machines and other mechanical devices. They are involved in this process from the initial design right through to the manufacture and installation of the final product. Mechanical engineers can work on a variety of projects, from designing mechanical hearts used in the medical industry, to car engines, through to designing and improving the production processes at mine sites. When designing machines they must take into account the cost to build and run a finished design, availability of materials and strength and maintenance requirements. To ensure the necessary standards are met they must regularly test designs, which can involve building a working prototype, and making necessary adjustments based on its performance.
Mechanical engineers may work in an office, workshop, factory or on a building site. They generally work regular business hours and often work in a team environment, with professionals from a wide variety of backgrounds, depending on the specific project. For example, a mechanical engineer designing the valves used in a mechanical heart might consult closely with biomedical engineers, doctors and surgeons, while one designing a gold processing plant, would work with mining engineers and metallurgists. Travel to meet with clients and/or view work sites may also be required.
Tools and technologies
Mechanical engineers use computers, including Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) technologies, to assist in the designing, testing and building of machines. They may also use a range of hand and power tools and equipment to test aspects such as energy consumption and strength. Depending on their work environment, mechanical engineers may be required to wear safety equipment, including hard hats, overalls, safety glasses and hearing protection.
How do I become one?
Education and training
To become a mechanical engineer, you usually need to study a degree in engineering, majoring in mechanical engineering. You may need to complete further postgraduate study to specialise in mechanical engineering.
Most universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.