Mechanical Engineering is one of the basic branches of engineering and its fundamental principles are used in the design, development and construction of nearly all of the physical devices and systems we see around us including but not limited to automobiles, machines in all kind of factories, machinery used in building construction, road construction, agriculture, etc. Mechanical engineers are also involved with the design, construction and operations of all kinds of machinery. They conceptualize design for any product to be manufactured. They also develop, test and manufacture the state-of-the-art machinery.
Manufacturing sector encompasses a set of industries to make or produce anything in a factory and therefore, it requires a great deal of specialized knowledge. Mechanical engineers are often referred as manufacturing engineers also as they are recruited by all kinds of companies which manufacture a variety of machines, robotics and other equipment. The mechanical engineers are normally responsible for the design, selection of materials, specifications and the development of production processes and equipment. Responsibility for plant layout, production planning and control, as well as plant maintenance is also a major job responsibility that mechanical engineers undertake.
Students who complete a BTech in mechanical engineering can look for employment in almost every type of manufacturing industry such as automobile, aerospace, railway coach factory, chemical manufacturing plants, metal producing plants, etc. apart from the private sector, mechanical engineers gain employment in public sector units such as BHEL, SAIL, GAIL, Indian Railway, Electricity Boards. Typical examples of the technology that mechanical engineers deal include automobiles, aircrafts, turbines, robotics, agriculture machinery, etc. Mechanical engineering, being a basic branch of engineering, provides employment in all kind of industries and therefore, is a branch of choice for aspiring engineers.
There are around 300,000 mechanical engineers in India, who have been serving in different industries. Role of mechanical engineering can never be neglected. If we talk about the percent-wise breakup of mechanical engineers employed in different industries, then the below table clarifies:
|Transportation equipment manufacturing||12%|
|Scientific research and development services||7%|
|Computer and electronic product manufacturing||7%|
|Architectural, engineering, and related services||22%|
Apart from the study of regular topics, mechanical engineering students are trained to nurture other skills needed to undertake the professional challenges further. These skills are:
Innovation- Mechanical engineers develop and design complex machines and heavy pieces of equipment. The innovation they learn while study plays a crucial role in this.
Mathematical Knowledge– Statistics, calculus, and other advanced mathematical concepts are always helpful to mechanical engineers for designing and analyzing the complex machinery.
Communication Skills– Mechanical engineers are supposed to coordinate with professionals from other divisions like architects and computer scientists. They must be great at communication to analyze what the approaches mentioned by others.
Decision- making Skills– Mechanical engineers need to be good at decision-making since they need to decide about the new processes to be implemented while building complex machines that too in short span of time.
Core Mechanical Skills– There is no denying the fact that mechanical engineers should be adept at their core skills i.e. conceptualizing the mechanical processes and building the new systems & devices.
Make in India is an ambitious initiative launched by government of India to attract manufacturing enterprises from abroad as well as domestic origin to set up manufacturing units in India to enhance the share of manufacturing in our GDP from current 15 percent to 25 percent by 2025. Manufacturing being one of the highest employment generating sector has been of current focus though capacity up-gradation, skill development and industrial development. To achieve this target, government of India has adopted a mix of policies for ease of doing business in India though good governance, decreasing red-tapism and scaling up infrastructural development to multiply the role of mechanical engineering.
Industry 4.0 has been defined as “a collective term for technologies and concepts of value chain organisation which draws together Cyber-Physical Systems, the Internet of Things, and the Internet of Services”. In Industry 4.0, cyber-physical systems made up of connected systems of software, sensors, machines, workpieces, and communication technologies monitor physical processes, create a virtual copy of the physical world, and make decentralised decisions.
According to Sackey et al. (2016), the following areas need attention in any Mechanical Engineering (ME) curriculum enhancement initiatives for Industry 4.0: (i) Data science and advanced (big data) analytics; (ii) Advanced simulation and virtual plant modelling; (iii) Data communication and networks and system automation; (iv) Novel human-machine interfaces; (v) Digital-to-physical transfer technologies, such as 3-D printing; (vi) Closed-loop integrated product and process quality control/management systems; (vii) Real-time inventory and logistics optimisation systems; (viii) Teaching and learning demonstration infrastructure. Similarly, for education systems in general to meet the challenges of Industry 4.0, it should recommend three things: (i) providing broader skill sets; (ii) offering job-specific capabilities; and (iii) closing the IT skills gap.
The curriculum of B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering offered in JK Lakshmipat University addresses the subjects CAD/CAM, Mechatronics, Robotics Engineering which could represent the efficient way of accommodating mechanical, electronic, computer science and data communication elements, in a single course. Subjects covered under the ME courses, including Production planning & control, Product design & development, Flexible manufacturing system, total quality management are also important in Industry 4.0. More emphasis is being placed on interconnectedness of communicating devices in cyber-physical systems and the internet of things- a common theme in Industry 4.0 though imparting these concepts in the relevant computer integrated manufacturing courses of mechanical engineering B.Tech curricula.\
In the year 2016, there were 280,800 mechanical engineers working in various industries and the number is expected to grow by 20% (approximately) by 2026. Therefore, the future of mechanical engineers is bright with the expanding role of mechanical engineering. In fact, the invasion of electric cars in the coming years is not going to affect the scope of mechanical engineering since this engineering is not just confined to automobile sector. Robotic engineering is now the part of mechanical engineering and growing at a rapid pace. Mechanical engineering was the core stream, is a core stream, and will always be the core stream of engineering.
This is how you can observe the role of mechanical engineers in ‘Make in India’ as well as other industrial developments in India and abroad. As a result, due to unstoppable scope of mechanical engineering in India, B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering from a prestigious institution like J K Lakshmipat University would be a wise career move where the theoretical learning is interwoven with experiential learning and extra-curricular activities for multi-dimensional growth of the students.
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