An engineering mechanic might explore how seismic activity affects different materials and devises solutions to make buildings safer in earthquakes. Aspiring engineering mechanics can pursue degree options in bachelor's, master's and doctoral programs. Internship opportunities are available for students of undergraduate programs. Laboratory components may also offer chances for hands-on learning. In addition to research projects and seminars, program curricula may include thesis or dissertation requirements. Dependent on the level of study, a high school diploma or a bachelor's degree is required.
Bachelor of Science in Engineering Mechanics
Students enrolled in an engineering mechanics bachelor's program are expected to demonstrate exceptional skills in advanced mathematics, chemistry and physics. The program is designed to give students a foundation in engineering sciences which will allow them to adapt to the rapidly changing technology. In some schools, students are encouraged to participate in research projects with faculty members. Internships through scholastic and private-sector routes are positions, usually paid, that a student may participate in during the summer breaks after completing at least one year of formal education.
Most of the courses for engineering mechanics are presented in seminars, but there are also lab classes and in some instances, hands-on project work supervised by faculty members. Some schools allow students to take electives in related fields such as astronautic science, but the basic courses for all programs include such classes as:
- Engineering acoustics fundamentals
- Aerospace systems
- Electromechanics and biomechanics
- Applied mechanics of fluids
- Finite elements
- Structural dynamics
Master's Degree in Engineering Mechanics
Working towards a master's degree in engineering mechanics will introduce the student to more comprehensive studies in applications of continuum mathematics and applied mechanics. In some schools, graduate-level programs cover interchangeable subject materials and courses. Many schools ask students to choose a field of specialization at this point. Some of the options include geotechnical, environmental and structural engineering.
Unlike many other master's degree programs, some schools offering engineering mechanics programs do not require a thesis. Intensive lab work and research projects are highlighted in this program and include such topics as:
- Mechanistic and empirical modeling processes
- Linear viscoelasticity and plasticity theory
- Dynamics of satellites
- Analysis of cutting forces
- Senior design projects
Ph.D. in Engineering Mechanics
The doctoral program for engineering mechanics is intended for the student looking for a career in research. Some programs insist that a student choose a subdivision of engineering mechanics as a minor to fulfill the requirements for this degree. Most colleges and universities insist the student choose a specialization prior to applying for the program. Some schools with both bachelor's as well as doctoral programs allow the student to apply some courses taken during the senior year to the graduate degree.
Along with intensive research and writing a dissertation, students working towards a doctorate in engineering mechanics take advanced mathematics and science classes. Courses cover such topics as:
- Nanoscale mechanics
- Composite materials analysis
- Human physiologic systems analysis
- Earthquake engineering and structural dynamics
- Materials fracture points
Attaining a bachelor's degree in engineering mechanics prepares students for advanced research positions. While a large portion of students continue on to graduate school, even a bachelor's in engineering mechanics is attractive to many employers. Employers seeking engineering mechanics include those in:
- Civil engineering
Some students with doctorates remain in the world of academia as professors. Most individuals with doctorates find jobs in a research and development capacity. Some of the more popular career choices include:
- Rocket scientists
- Materials scientists
- Environmental and civil engineers
- Structural mechanics analyst
Many students opt for immediate entry into a master's degree or Ph.D. program in engineering mechanics. A B.S. in Engineering Mechanics also fulfills prerequisites for graduate study in aeronautical or aerospace engineering. Some schools allow for coursework from the bachelor's program to count towards the requirements for a master's degree through combined bachelor's and master's programs.
Employment for mechanical engineers is predicted to grow by 4% for the decade 2018-2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). As of May 2018, the BLS stated that mechanical engineers earned a median annual salary of $87,370.
Prospective engineering mechanics students can find program specializations at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels. Key courses will prepare students for a career within aerospace or the government, among other industries.