Mechanical engineering is one of the oldest disciplines of engineering and we can imagine existence of human being without Mechanical engineering. Mechanical engineering involves everywhere. Manufacturing of daily uses utensils, working with gadgets, automobiles, machines in the industry, medical equipment, space shuttle, research and developments, robots etc. – applications of such fields are not possible without Mechanical engineering. But definitely with the advancement of technology, the use of the concept of Mechanical engineering has changed in recent years and there is a tendency of the next generation students to opt computer engineering. Then should we say that Mechanical engineering is losing its demand?
WHAT IS MECHANICAL ENGINEERING?
Mechanical engineering is the study of physics, engineering, mathematics, and material science to analyze, design, and manufacture mechanical systems. Mechanical engineers apply the principles of motion, energy, and force, in order to invent safe and functional mechanical devices for the benefits of mankind.
CAREER IN MECHANICAL ENGINEERING
Mechanical engineering is one of the most wide and versatile branch among all disciplines. You cannot imagine a single a second without mechanical. The list is countless. Here are few most important fields in which mechanical engineering deal with.
4. Clean Technology
5. Electronics and Instrumentation
6. Automation and Control
10. Artificial Intelligence
11. Sustainable Development
12. Systems Engineering
THE REVOLUTION MECHANICAL ENGINEERING
The requirements of machines come into existence in the latter part of 18th century with the invention of steam engine. The first professional society for Mechanical engineering is “Institution of Mechanical engineering. It was built in 1847 in United Kingdom and still it is playing its importance for the development of our needs. The revolution of mechanical engineering is broadly classified into four key categories:
THE FIRST INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION
The First Industrial Revolution considered to be the shift from our dependency on animals and human effort. Primary sources of energy (biomass) embedded with the use of fossil fuels were centre of attraction to generate mechanical power. It was the transition phase to adopt new manufacturing processes in Europe and United Kingdom. The first industrial revolution started about 1760 and considered to be between 1820 and 1840. This period included shifting from hand production to mechanically powered machines; production of iron, chemical industry and most importantly steam and water power plants. The First Industrial Revolution caused the growth of industries, such as coal, iron, railroads and textiles. The first industrial revolution showed an unpredictable growth and acceptance of human being.
THE SECOND INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION
The Second industrial revolution is considered from 1870-1914. The Second Industrial Revolution is known for the expansion of electricity, petroleum industry and different metal especially steel industry. As all these essential products are the back bone of the development of industry and thus during this period changes from old products to more advanced new products took place. The alloy of iron took place of iron in the second industrial revolution. Steels were being manufactured for industrial machines, railways, ships and many. Thus it made possible for development of rail lines to build an economical transport system to spread business opportunity around the world. Electricity and rail road connectivity with innovation of steel made it possible to develop cities with new infrastructure. People were able to work more with full efficiency. Apart from rail transport system, other public transport system also came into existence.
THE THIRD INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION
The Third Industrial Revolution assumed to be started in the 1950s with the development of computer systems, electronic communication and advances in computing power. The establishment of a Third Industrial Revolution infrastructure will create thousands of new businesses and millions of jobs and lay the basis for a sustainable global economy in the 21st century. Shifting from fossil fuel energy source to renewable energy for the existence of human being is a great challenge. The resources of fossil fuel are limited and thus alternative source of energy like solar, wind and nuclear power plant will be future generation sources of energy.
The Third Industrial Revolution embedded with computer aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) with modern tools (CNC), 3-D printers, design and analysis Software made it possible to create new revolution in the mechanical industry. Internet of things (IOT) and artificial Intelligence (AI) has taken the place of traditional engineering concepts. The concept of steel replaced by newly invented ceramic materials made it possible to create cheap and reliable machine parts with light weight. The main contribution of the Third Industrial Revolution are numberless, designing cars in 3D printers, the next generation robots, automatic material handing etc.
The internet, which is going to converge with the automated transportation logistics internet. The internet’s ride on top of a platform called the Internet of Things (IOT), which is built up of all the sensors that are gradually being embedded into all our machines and devices, allowing them to monitor real-life activity and communicate with one another and with us.
THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION (Industry 4.0)
The Fourth Industrial Revolution also known as Industry 4.0 is the era in which we are living now. The Fourth industry Revolution is the ongoing industrial process with automation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices, using modern smart technology. In large scale communication between machines to machine has been setup and the Internet of Things are embedded to increase productivity. Without much intervention of human beings with accuracy and self-monitoring system a smart machines that can analyze and diagnose issues. The Fourth Industrial Revolution represents entirely new paths in which technology becomes embedded within industry and even our human system. Industry 4.0 responsible for the growing trend towards automation and data exchange in technology and processes within the manufacturing industry, including:
- The internet of things (IOT)
- The industrial internet of things (IIoT)
- Cyber-physical systems (CPS)
- Smart manufacturing
- Smart factories
- Cloud computing
- Cognitive computing
- Artificial intelligence
MECHANICAL ENGINEERING TODAY
A lot of modern technologies are used for manufacturing in modern industries. Mechanical engineers are using finite element methods (FEM), computational fluid dynamics (CDF), computer-aided design (CAD), Computer aided manufacturing (CAM), Computer aided process planning (CAPP), Computer integrated Manufacturing (CIM). All of these tools are allowing mechanical engineers to work on the designing and analyzing of 3D models. The next generation mechanical engineers are using their core mechanical engineering concepts with computer technology and creating a modern platform for the modern industry. Therefore you must have basic concepts with modern tools to compete global market.
Mechanical engineering is the study of different basic subjects from year first to fourth like mechanics, machine design, thermodynamics, material science, manufacturing, heat transfer and refrigeration and CAD/CAM etc. with the very basic fundamental of physics and mathematics. In the present scenario all these core knowledge’s are embedded with various software skills and thus full filling present day needs. To achieve most trending jobs there is a need to enhance computer skills and programming languages. The modern Mechanical engineering cannot neglect the concept of Industry 4.0 or artificial intelligence or machine learning or robotics. So there is a need to improve conventional educational system as per need of the society. Now a days Conventional mechanical engineering concepts has no value without all these additional technology.
IS MECHANICAL ENGINEERING REALLY BECOMING OBSOLETE?
In the last of the section of this article, a very important question is knocking in my mind. The present industry and tendency of student to opt computer engineering is worrying all of who are associated with Mechanical engineering. . There may be one of the most important reasons for this is COVID-19. In this pandemic year many industries stopped production due to many factors. Man power crisis and demand of products were the keys reasons for this problem.
Mechanical engineering will become obsolete when human do not need to work with objects in a physical space. But this is not possible. That means no more building of new physical objects in our life. When robots, Industry 4.0 and AI can handled unconventional situations, can react to irrational behavior from other disciplines. They use engineering applications for unique situations and then mechanical engineering will become obsolete. The present situation is very crucial for mechanical engineers and we ourselves have created the situation. Since long we are dealing with conventional thoughts about mechanical. Still we are studying many subjects which practically we are not applying. Above all we are not integrated our core knowledge with digital computer technology. The branch was ever green and will be so but we need some additional technology add on in our curriculum.Practical oriented teaching methodology may be useful with theoretical knowledge.
METHODOLOGY TO BE IMPROVED
It is very important to revise course syllabus as per demand.
Subjects like Programming languages, Coding, Design software must be essential part of our curriculum.
Connection with modern industry in the form of webinar, workshop can be built up.
Industry oriented live projects inclusion; Consultancy from modern industry will be tremendous output.
A mechanical engineer with additional computer knowledge will be ever green for years. A Computer programmer only smart in coding or programming. But all such coding or programming is used in modern machines and they are unaware about the machines. But a mechanical engineer has the knowledge of principle of machines. So if they learn digital applications for their machines, there will be no more crises. Thus Mechanical will become ever demanding for next generations. Go ahead and join the passion and play with modern automated machines.