Five Sub-Disciplines of Mechanical Engineering

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Mechanical engineering deals with the conception, design, construction and maintenance of machinery. Not surprisingly, it covers a broad spectrum of sub-disciplines, and a talented mechanical engineer can choose from many career options when he or she is first starting out.

Here are five fascinating sub-disciplines that fall under the umbrella of mechanical engineering:

Marine Engineering. Got sea legs? This branch might be best for you. By pursuing marine engineering, you’ll likely get employment on a ship. You may be charged with its heating and air conditioning, lighting, propulsion and more (even sewage disposal). A marine engineer may also be a shipbuilder, working as part of a team that designs the complex systems that keep seagoing vessels afloat.

Robotics. Robotics has become more and more commonplace over the past few decades, but by no means has it become dull. Most recently, advances in the field have given us the Shadow Dextrous Hand, a robotic hand with 24 joints and 40 “muscles,” that can perform extremely delicate operations, such as picking up a light bulb.

Acoustical Engineering. Acoustical engineers are concerned with the generation or suppression of sound. Think of it as one of the most artistic sub-disciplines of mechanical engineering: An acoustical engineer might make concert hall better able to amplify sound, or soundproof a recording studio.

Nanotech. You may have heard of this field in science fiction movies, but don’t worry about massive swarms of killer robots devouring everything in their sight. More often, nanotechnologists design computer chips and polymers, and nanotechnological advances are most often seen in mundane places like cosmetics and suntan lotion.

Biomechatronics. Biomechatronics experts are concerned with the relationship between mechanical devices and the human body. This is the field involved most closely with ventricular assistance devices and artificial hearts, and a biomechatronics expert may work together with a robotics expert if the Shadow Dextrous Hand can ever replace a real hand.

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