Tierra, MD asked Karen Thole, Pennsylvania State University

AddedFriday, March 30, 2012 at 5:26 AM

Do Mechanical Engineers Need Programming Skills?
Hi, I was wondering what is mechanical engineering and what they do? I am considering becoming a mechanical engineer after I become a computer programmer. Also does computer programming help in mechanical engineering? Does taking the International Baccalaureate program help in the engineering field? Also I am entering highschool and am going to be taking the IB program.
Related to Engineering Skills, Mechanical, Work Environment
  • Karen Thole , Pennsylvania State University
    Answered Friday, March 30, 2012 at 5:26 AM
    Dear Tierra from Md: It is very exciting to hear of your interest in mechanical engineering. I will attempt to address a few of your questions: It is difficult to say what mechanical engineers do not do in terms of jobs. Our Penn State mechanical engineers do so many things: they work on designing new hospital buildings, new airplanes, new wind turbines, new surgical instruments, energy efficient buildings, comfortable chairs, and so much more. We have some mechanical engineers who are now designing a kindle for the blind! Mechanical engineers not only design many exciting products, they also venture into managing large projects and companies; become patent attorneys; research exciting breakthroughs such as those needed in energy storage; and even become medical doctors! And, yes, mechanical engineers do a significant amount of computer programming, which they use as a tool to predict things like how fast our stomach dissolves medication, how to design better airplane wings, and how to make cars that require less fuel. MEs do lots of computer programing, but with an intention of making predictions for better products. Finally, I?????????m not exactly sure what you mean by an IB degree. As an aside, we do not require this, but do have a strong emphasis in our program on making sure the MEs that we educate have a ?????????global view of engineering?????????. For example, our Penn State ME students are now working with students in China, Singapore, and Korea to come up with better designs requested by many companies. This is an exciting program and our students are getting a much better view of the world through working in multi-national teams. I hope this is helpful and I wish you the very best of success. Hopefully, I will see you at Penn State one day enrolled as an ME student! Professor Thole
  • Marita Cheng , The University of Melbourne/ Imperial College London
    Answered Friday, March 30, 2012 at 5:26 AM
    Hi Tierra, A mechanical engineer uses physics and material science to solve real-world problems, such as working on car engines, rockets and planes; manufacturing plants, and medical devices. Doing computer programming before doing engineering will definitely help, especially in the field of robotics, and anything that requires a system to be programmed. Having a degree in both computer programming and mechanical engineering will definitely give you an edge in the field. The IB is a great program to do if you want to study engineering, as the IB encourages students to think outside of the box, which is something engineers have to do everyday. Engineering is a great field to study, as there are so many opportunities for you to travel around the world, but more importantly, to improve the lives of millions of people. Good luck with your studies! Regards, Marita