A Mechanical Engineering degree can help you learn the story of humanity from a new perspective.
This story can be told through Literature from Homer to Hugo, Sappho to Shakespeare, Virgil to Virginia Woolf and the whole spectrum of humanity.
You can tell it through the story of Philosophy and Politics, from Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle to Hobbles, Locke, and Rousseau to Kierkegaard, Sartre, Beauvoir and beyond.
And of course, you can tell it as the story of Engineering and Ingenuity, of the construction of everything from the Pyramids and the Parthenon to the Taj Mahal, Tower Bridge, and all the many modern marvels of our age. It can help you learn the world of an infinite marvel of possibilities.
Of course, neither those structures nor the story of human progress arose fully formed. It took an immense amount of study, theory, applied knowledge, and practice – all of which you can expect to experience with a Mechanical Engineering degree.
What is Mechanical Engineering?
A Mechanical Engineering degree can be a great choice for a wide range of students, notably those who excel both in maths and physics. They can put the practicalities of making engineering concepts a reality. Put more simply, if you’re someone who is focused less on not just “why” robots and machinery work the way they do, but “how,” and making them work yourself, then mechanical engineering may be right for you.
Where other engineering degrees and physics degrees may be more focused on formulas, a mechanical engineering degree is more focused on the practical side of problem solving with the actual machines which are necessary for a given job. In architecture, for example, traditional engineers and architectures may design structures while mechanical engineers do the actual work of figuring out how to transform those plans into a cement and steel structure that can actually stand and last. Mechanical engineers, thus, must learn and use a wide range of skills, including:
- General engineering
- Computer skills
A typical mechanical engineering job will blend these different skills together. For example, a mechanical engineering robotics job will require you to understand the mathematics and computer side behind how robots work while being able to combine that with an understanding of electricity to determine the best way to make a robot carry out its programmed moves.
Finally, due to their roles as the engineering experts tasked with making theory a reality, mechanical engineers are often at the forefront of experimental technology. If you want to work with the latest tech toys your given field has to offer, mechanical engineering may be the way to go.
What Career Can I Have with a Mechanical Engineering Degree?
There is an engineering gap in the UK due to which you and your Mechanical Engineering degree, as one of the most versatile STEM degrees, should be in high demand. This means your job and salary prospects will potentially be much higher than that of many of your colleagues. Additionally, if you want to have a degree that can ensure that you’ll be able to get work throughout the UK and EU, mechanical engineering is a solid choice.
In terms of salary, mechanical engineers make between roughly £18K and £27K on average, with the latter being for degree positions and the former for non-degree positions, such as entry-level positions for students still learning and obtaining their degree. That figure can rise to well over £30K with a few years of experience. For example, a Mechanical Engineering degree with Rolls-Royce and similar car manufacturers can earn closer to £38K.
Some of the career paths possible with a Mechanical Engineering degree are:
- Aerospace: These jobs put your mechanical engineering skills to work by constructing and testing aircraft and parts for them.
Starting salary: £22,000 – £28,000
Once experienced: £28,000 – £40,000
Senior-level salary: £45,000 to £60,000+
- Civil contracting: The logistical side of making jobs like architecture work.
- Automotive work: Taking car designs and making them a reality
Starting salary: £20,000 – £28,000
Once experienced: £30,000 – £45,000
Senior-level salary: Up to £60,000
- Robotics: Using the latest breakthroughs in robotics today to build the robots of tomorrow
- Banking: Working with the IT and computer systems that keep financial institutions such as banks up and running
- Patents and management: Inventing and patenting new technologies for companies of all kinds
Starting salary: £30,000, to £37,000
Once experienced: £53,300 – £68,700
Senior-level salary: £77,300 – £100,000+
This is just a sampling of your career possibilities. While it is one of the most challenging undergraduate degrees, mechanical engineering can also be one of the most fertile in terms of branching career paths. Of course, at a certain point you will need to specialise, and make no mistake, whichever sub-field you choose will likely require additional years of specialisation and training. Some may offer or require programs concordant with the UK’s Tiered Apprenticeship Program.
What do you study in Mechanical Engineering Degree?
A Mechanical Engineering degree is a four-year degree, with apprenticeships figuring into and potentially adding to that time scale by an additional couple of years.
Among the basic starter modules for a Mechanical Engineering degree are:
- Engineering Design
- Engineering Mechanics
- Engineering Mathematics
- Fluid Mechanics
- Engineering Science
- Thermofluid and Mechanical Systems
- Electronic Systems
- Control and Computing
In a typical Engineering Design module, you start to get an idea of what it is like to design a basic engineering project. Under the guidance of professors, you will plan, design, and build a model project based around a theme selected by the professor. This helps students get acquainted with the design process and problem-solving skills which are at the core of all engineering work.
What skills do you need?
STEM capabilities are essential – “Engineering” is the “E” in “STEM,” after all. In addition, you will also need:
- An ability to work well with whatever tools are applicable to your focus (i.e, automotive tools for a job designing materials for cars)
- An understanding of how different skills come together in whatever field you’re working in
- The ability to think creatively, as much of your job will rely on problem solving and not just regurgitating memorised formulas, but actively figuring out puzzles and problem solving
Top Universities which provide a Mechanical Engineering degree
- University of Cambridge
Year 1 and 2 provide a broad education in engineering fundamentals. Year 3 and 4 allows you to specialise in your chosen professional discipline.
- Imperial College London
Formula One and associated industries are popular destinations for Imperial Mechanical Engineering degree graduates.
- University of Oxford
One of the oldest universities in the world with a prestigious Department of Engineering Science.
- University of Bath
Provides the option of doing a year-long paid industrial placement.
- University of Bristol
Bristol University has the largest Robotics lab in the UK.
Mechanical Engineering is a very broad degree, and that’s a good thing. It opens up all the different fields of engineering for you, once you graduate. Below are the different routes you can take once you’ve obtained your Bachelors or Masters in Mechanical Engineering.
In all, a mechanical engineering degree can be a superb way for STEM students to make the story of their university experience and subsequent career a triumphant one.