An affinity for understanding spatial relationships and performing hands-on work using tools are the kinds of qualities and skills demonstrated by successful mechanical design technology students. Studying this field at the associate's degree level can prepare students to work as mechanical designers and drafters, as well as engineering technicians, but not engineers. At the bachelor's degree level, students can enroll in programs in engineering, engineering technology, or industrial technology management, which will all prepare them for different careers. At the master's degree level, engineering programs are available with a concentration option in mechanical design.
Both undergraduate programs typically only require students be high school educated to apply, along with one year or more of previous coursework in algebra. To enroll in a two year master's degree, a student must typically hold a bachelor's degree in engineering or similar field and submit satisfactory GRE scores. Graduate programs usually culminate in a thesis or practicum.
Associate of Applied Science Degree in Mechanical Design Technology
Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Mechanical Design Technology programs teach students to design products using relevant engineering concepts and computer-aided design (CAD) technologies.
A.A.S. in Mechanical Design Technology programs prepare students to use the latest CAD technologies to produce two- and three-dimensional assembly and tooling drawings and to provide engineering specifications. Students learn to build scale models, communicate technical information, and solve mechanical engineering problems. In addition to covering CAD technologies and general education requirements, coursework may include:
- Manufacturing processes
- Technical drafting and math
- Computer applications and mechanical concepts
- Materials, statics, and tool design
- Design elements and problems
- Mechanical engineering basics
Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical Design Technology
Students may study mechanical design technology as a concentration in Bachelor of Science (B.S.) programs in engineering technology or bachelor's degree programs in industrial technology management. People interested in a bachelor's degree with a mechanical design technology concentration may want to seek programs in the discipline closely related to their career goals. For example, students interested in becoming engineering technologists might look to B.S. in engineering technology programs. Those aspiring to have production management responsibilities might seek out industrial technology management programs.
A large part of the first two years is spent taking general education courses. Coursework for the major will typically include the following:
- Physics, calculus, chemistry
- Technical writing
- Industrial management and engineering design graphics
- Mechanism, machine, and industrial design
Coursework will also cover the program discipline. An industrial technology management program may include courses in plastics, energy, metal, and power technology as well as technical writing, advanced math, and physics. An engineering technology program will usually include courses in college math and physics, metal and plastics technology, safety, and management.
Master of Science in Engineering
A Master of Science (M.S.) degree in engineering or mechanical engineering with a concentration in mechanical design provides highly advanced professional preparation for an engineering career that emphasizes design. Students learn to apply advanced knowledge of physical sciences and engineering to sophisticated design and production problems. Many programs allow working professionals to pursue the degree part time. Typical coursework may cover:
- Mechanical engineering methods
- Engineering analysis
- Advanced mechanical design
- Financial management
- Control methods
- Harshness, vibration and noise
People who earn a bachelor's degree with a concentration in mechanical design technology may be prepared for a variety of positions in industrial manufacturing, such as industrial designer, material handling manager, quality control manager, and inventory control manager.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that mechanical engineering technician jobs, a category that includes mechanical designers and mechanical drafters, will grow 2% for the years 2014 through 2024 (www.bls.gov). The BLS reported that the median annual salary earned by mechanical engineering technicians in May 2015 was $53,910.
The BLS further predicted that employment of mechanical engineers will increase by 5% from 2014 through 2024. While this is slower growth than average, mechanical engineers may work in several industries like architecture, machinery manufacturing, and alternative energy.
People who earn a bachelor's degree in engineering or mechanical engineering with a concentration in mechanical design may be qualified to work as mechanical engineers. According to the BLS, the median annual wage for mechanical engineers in May 2015 was $83,590 (www.bls.gov).
After a bachelor's degree, the M.S. is the highest mechanical design degree intended to enhance a career as a working engineer. Those who aspire to conduct advanced research in the field or to become professors may continue their education and earn a Doctor of Philosophy in engineering.
People who earn an A.A.S. in Mechanical Design Technology to qualify for design or drafting careers do not usually require further formal education. Most will keep up with technological advances in the field on the job. Those who would like to enhance their qualifications by learning more about industrial manufacturing or engineering principles may pursue a bachelor's degree in mechanical design technology.
Students can enroll in associate's, bachelor's, and master's degrees in mechanical design technology to prepare for careers in engineering, learning to ensure efficiency and quality of products made by a company. Related doctoral degrees are available in engineering for those wishing to further their education.