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Finding a job in engineering

Many jobs are still obtained through the traditional method of advertising - in papers, on the Internet, in careers publications etc. Professional Engineering, the publication produced by Professional Engineering Publishing, offers on average 40 pages of engineering advertisements per fortnightly issue, the details are also found on their website: www.professionalcareers.net. The IMechE also produces 'Engineering Opportunities' an annual publication targeted at students and graduates, which lists companies offering employment and training programmes.

Career Benefits

The mechanical engineering professional can, and should, aim high in their career aspirations. The recent Engineering Council report identifies that engineers and scientists hold more than quarter of leading executive positions in FTSE 100 companies (as of 3 December 2001).

Here to help you

The IMechE is here to help you. At each university running IMechE accredited degrees there is an Academic Liaison Officer (ALO). They are there to help you with your questions, to give advice & provide knowledge. To find out whom the ALO is at your chosen university, email: education@imeche.org.uk. For further information about membership of the IMechE please contact the Membership department, tel: 0845 226 9191, email: membership@imeche.org.uk.

Why Study Mechanical Engineering

The UK education system is respected as among the best in the world, home to arguably two of the most famous universities, and a number of world-class centres of learning. Britain itself is the world's fourth largest economy, with a diverse culture where differences are celebrated.

Mechanical engineering courses in British universities offer the highest quality teaching and research and, once qualified, mechanical engineers are among the most sought-after, and highly paid, professionals in UK business.

What will the course offer?

Mechanical engineering is specifically concerned with design, development, installation, operation and maintenance of just about anything that has moveable parts. As a result, there are job opportunities for mechanical engineers in practically every field of work, transport, health, defence, manufacturing, entertainment, finance, publishing, building, design and research, to name but a few. Mechanical engineering projects can range from designing heart valves and artificial limbs, clockwork radios and dentists' drills to building racing cars, jet engines or space modules.

A career in mechanical engineering would suit a 'behind the scenes' or 'in front of the camera' type person. The only pre-requisites are high academic qualifications along with a passion for learning and enthusiasm for making things happen.

How to choose the right course and university

Mechanical engineering courses vary widely in content, assessment and teaching. Deciding which course to do is no easy task, but your choice can ensure your future career prospects are met. The basic mechanical engineering degree course includes certain core subjects - communication, drawing and computer aided design (CAD) and engineering, control, electrical machines and power, fluid mechanics, materials, stress analysis, thermodynamics and heat transfer, dynamics and vibration, electronics, manufacturing systems, measurement and instrumentation, statics and structures. Courses can also cover a number of other non-mandatory subjects, for example - business management, accountancy and IT. Contact your college careers office for further advice and information.

Career benefits

A mechanical engineering degree places graduates ahead in the race for quality employment. Statistics show that mechanical engineers earn lots of money! In a recent study by the Engineering Council, engineering graduates were found to be earning a median of £24,000 per annum - that's 19% more than the average for all graduates three and a half years after graduation.

The mechanical engineering professional can, and should, aim high in their career aspirations. There is an underlying myth around the profession that the realm of engineers is in 'middle management'. This myth has always been disputed, and has been disproved in the same ETB report. The report identifies that engineers and scientists hold more than quarter of leading executive positions in FTSE 100 companies (as at 3 December 2001). And, due to the declining number of mechanical engineering graduates entering the profession, there is an abundance of job opportunities in a variety of industries.

The percentage of women joining the engineering profession is rising each year, yet still only account for 15% of the entire professional engineering workforce. For those that do, there is more good news. Recent statistics have proven that women in engineering are actually ahead of their male counterparts where salary is concerned! A recent survey by EMTA (the National Training Organisation for Engineering Manufacture) reports that senior female engineers earns 8.5% more than male colleagues, rising to 11.9% by the time she reaches her early 40s.

Incentives from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE)

It is a goal of the IMechE to actively seek, educate and inform society of the benefits of mechanical engineering. For IMechE members registered on an accredited mechanical engineering course in the UK, there are a number of financial incentives (very important to students!) to make life at university financially easier. These range from undergraduate development funds, overseas study awards, hardship awards, Third World project awards, postgraduate development funds and research awards. For more information about the awards, please contact Karen Frost, IMechE Awards Officer, on tel: + 44 1284 718 617.

Recent Innovations

Thousands of years ago 'mechanical engineers' invented the wheel. Today's mechanical engineers have created the London Eye - the most modern and advanced wheel of the 21st century. Anyone who lives in, has visited or has read about, London, will be aware of the major new attraction in the heart of the capital. The London Eye is a massive mechanical marvel that lives by the River Thames. Mechanical Engineering played a vital part in the design, manufacture and installation of the Eye, something that was originally believed to be impossible. Now it is both an extremely popular tourist attraction and an inspiration to future engineers.

In the past year there has been a lot of media attention surrounding the new Virgin Pendolino train (derived from the word pendulum) which swings in and out of bends, smoothing the journey for passengers at high speeds. The Pendolinos will be able to travel at up to 140 miles an hour, compared with current speeds of around 110mph. Residents in the UK are due to benefit from this mechanical engineering advancement later in 2002.

There are a multitude of mechanical engineering advancements that don't make the headlines but are crucial to our everyday lives, making them easier, faster and more efficient. For example, medical engineering companies are now developing surgical robotic systems for orthopaedic, spinal and dental surgery. Environmental engineers in the UK are producing world-leading technology in emission control. UK based mechanical engineers in the defence industry are creating an innovative protection system for the International Space Station, among other things. This describes just a few of the exciting, innovative and challenging projects that mechanical engineers are involved in.

Here to help you

One of the original strategic aims of the Institution was to be the leading forum for the exchange of knowledge and expertise in the field of mechanical engineering. That is still what we strive to achieve today. The IMechE is here to help you.

A mechanical engineering degree is just the beginning. Most engineering students aspire to achieve chartered status (CEng), which is the highest professional engineering qualification. The IMechE is your route to chartered status as a mechanical engineer, and to world-wide recognition as a qualified engineer.

For further information about the possibilities for studying engineering in the UK and a career in mechanical engineering, call one of the friendly, knowledgeable staff on 0845 226 9191,or email: membership@imeche.org.uk, or take a look at the website: www.imeche.org.uk.

Author: Sara Richardson, Institution for Mechanical Engineers


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