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Careers in Mechanical Engineering

Photograph of Mechanic Engineering studentsFacts and Figures

  • Science and Engineering employment is expected to grow at about 11% per year over the next decade (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

  • A larger percentage of technical companies hire graduates with degrees in mechanical engineering than any other college degree, and that has been true for the last 15 years, according to Peterson's Job Opportunities.

  • Starting salaries for engineers are among the highest of all college graduates. The average starting salary for students graduating with a B.S. in mechanical engineering in 2006 was a little over $54,000 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

  • Aerospace engineering, bioengineering and industrial engineering, areas related to mechanical engineering and in which our graduates get employed, are all expected to see faster than average job growth over the next 10 years.

Different Career Options

Mechanical engineering can lead to a wide variety of careers. The most traditional careers in mechanical engineering are those working as design and manufacturing engineers for companies that produce a mechanical product, such as cars, planes or refrigerators. Mechanical engineering students at UMass Dartmouth have gone on to work for General Motors, Boeing, Pratt and Whitney, General Electric, Westinghouse, Ford and many other "mechanical engineering" companies.

Engineers who enter these companies are generally faced with two long term career paths. The first is the technical path, in which the engineer continues to design and manufacture products, or supervise teams of younger engineers. Many senior engineers, however, choose to enter the management track. Most of the large technical firms in the country are still run by managers with degrees in engineering. General Motors, for instance, had a succession mechanical engineers as CEOs during the years when they prospered.

Virtually every company that produces a product employs some mechanical engineers. Mechanical engineers are involved in the computer industry in the design of hard disk drives, in the cooling of electronic components and of course in the manufacturing of all of the components of a computer.

Medical research is being undertaken more and more often by mechanical engineers working closely with chemical engineers and medical doctors. The application of engineering principles to medical research has been an extremely productive area of cross-disciplinary co-operation and has generated programs specifically designed to produce medical doctors with knowledge of engineering such as the Biomedical Engineering Research Education program at the Harvard Medical School.

Many mechanical engineers work for the government. The Departments of Energy, the military research labs and Nasa all employ large numbers of mechanical engineers. Recently two UMass Dartmouth mechanical engineers went to work for the U.S. patent office.

For those who choose to pursue graduate degrees there are virtually an infinite number of areas of active research in Mechanical Engineering. UMass Dartmouth has an excellent record of having students accepted to top graduate schools in mechanical engineering. Among the more exciting mechanical engineering research projects currently active in this country are the design of zero-emissions cars, and the development of the tilt-rotor aircraft.

Hot Research Topics in Mechanical Engineering