Mechanical engineers are responsible for one of the most important events in United States history: the Industrial Revolution. Taking place over the course of a century, the Industrial Revolution saw handmade goods largely replaced by those produced in machine-aided factories. The very fabric of society changed forever as these new technologies sent our country careening into the future—and in doing so, created an unwavering demand for mechanical engineers that has remained ever since.
Mechanical engineers are innovators of the highest caliber, able to approach problems from any angle to find novel solutions. Professionals with this talent are few and far between, which is why we’re taking this time to show some appreciation for mechanical engineers and explain why our world is in desperate need of their expertise.
The Role of a Mechanical Engineer
“It really is pretty hard to think of something that exists in the world that a mechanical engineer hasn’t had a hand in designing,” said Fidelis Engineering Associates’ chief engineer and co-founder Robert Hurlston. Everything from the watch you wear to the device you’re reading this on was designed by a mechanical engineer. They also have a hand in overseeing the manufacturing processes that produce the products and appliances so many of us use daily.
From climate change to public health crises, it’s no secret that our world is facing seemingly insurmountable odds. Fortunately, the expertise of mechanical engineers extends beyond the manufacturing of ordinary household goods. These are the minds behind electric cars, solar and wind farms and carbon dioxide scrubbers—innovations that will (fingers crossed) help the world reach its climate goal of keeping temperature rise to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit. The lithium-ion batteries that power most modern portable electronics are another invention fueling the renewable energy transition—and wouldn’t you know it, their innerworkings were developed by our very own Dr. John B. Goodenough.
The Father of the Lithium-Ion Battery
The first rechargeable lithium-ion battery presented Dr. Goodenough with a unique problem: It tended to explode. Along with his fellow researchers, he experimented with metal oxides and discovered that a cathode of cobalt oxide gave a higher voltage than earlier batteries, sans explosion. Dr. Goodenough was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2019 for his pioneering work on lithium batteries. Now a professor with The University of Texas at Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering, he mentors young researchers and strives to improve upon battery designs.
A Wealth of Opportunity
Mechanical engineering is one of the broadest engineering disciplines, and you may be surprised by the diversity of roles a mechanical engineer can take on. Excellent problem-solvers and communicators, mechanical engineers excel at breaking complicated subjects down into easily digestible information. This is why they so often take on leadership roles, such as project manager or business executive, or are snatched up by management consulting firms. Designing and producing a product that adds value to a person’s life is one thing. Articulating how it does so is something else entirely. Here are just a handful of the positions a mechanical engineer may qualify for:
- Management consultant
- Project lead
- Project manager
- Thermal engineer
By the year 2030, employment of mechanical engineers is expected to grow by 7% and reach 320,100. Because mechanical engineers are employed in so many corners of the workforce, employment growth will vary by industry. However, since we are in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, mechanical engineers will be increasingly called upon to help automate manufacturing processes by planning and designing complex machinery. The growing need for mechanical engineers is also represented by the 47,405 mechanical engineering degrees awarded in 2019. This number eclipses the 7,684 mechanical engineering master’s degrees awarded that same year.
We’ve shown that the world needs mechanical engineers, but only a small number of these professionals are pursuing terminal degrees. Lacking the proper credentials, many of these professionals will be unable to position themselves in a role where their talents can be of use.
Do Your Part to Make the World a Better Place
Businesses are on the lookout for mechanical engineers who can take their companies in new, exciting directions. While your skills and knowledge may be impressive, you may lack the experience or credentials needed to move up the corporate ladder. That’s where we come in. UT Austin offers two 100% online mechanical engineering programs that can help you open the door to new career opportunities:
- Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering: This 30-credit-hour, non-thesis program teaches students to design, analyze and produce products and design processes. Engaging with rigorous, industry-relevant course content and experiential learning opportunities, master’s degree students learn lessons directly applicable to their careers.
- Mechanical Engineering Controls Graduate Certificate: Designed for engineers of all levels who are interested in the control and optimization of processes and systems, this 9-credit-hour program takes an in-depth look at critical competencies professionals need to compete and be successful in the industry. Students can earn this career-enhancing graduate certificate in as little as one year.
Both of our programs are entirely online and asynchronous, so you can keep up with personal and professional responsibilities while continuing your education. At your convenience, you’ll be able to complete videos, exercises, quizzes and tests, and communication tools allow you to communicate with your professors and fellow Texas Engineers within your cohort as needed. You’ll be hard-pressed to find online mechanical engineering programs as prestigious or convenient than those offered by UT Austin.
The world is in need of mechanical engineers. Are you ready to answer the call? Apply to one of UT Austin’s 100% online mechanical engineering programs.