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Mechanical engineering is a broad field of engineering that consists of design, applied physics, manufacturing, maintenance of mechanical systems etc. It is one of the broadest branches of engineering. Engineers in the field require knowledge in mechanics, materials and components science, electricity, and structural analysis; besides it is obligatory to use computer software for engineering.
The Path of Progress: Successes and Failures
As the industrial revolution emerged in Europe in the 18th century, mechanical engineering was provided with the key point to machinery development. It resulted in creation of new “classification of engineering dealing with tools and machines developed, receiving formal recognition in 1847 in the founding of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in Birmingham, Eng.” (Britannica, 2009). The trial-and-error experience of application of the scientific research technique, production, and design provided the basis for development of mechanical engineering. The need for capacity improvement grows every day, stimulating mechanical engineers for further training and getting more excellent education. During the 19th century due to the development of mechanical engineering people provided machines and engines that powered them. Education in this field has always been based on a strong foundation of mathematics and science. The most educated and creative engineers left their trace in mechanical engineering history.
Sir Henry Royce was not only a pioneering car manufacturer, but also, together with Charles Rolls, the founder of the Rolls-Royce Company. “Henry Royce was the driving force throughout the development of the Merlin engine that powered both the Hurricane and Spitfire” (Coles, 2012). Henry Royce was one of the key mechanical engineers of his period. His engineering business manufactured electrically driven cranes, motors, and dynamos. In 1904 he designed his own car models, which had outstanding qualities, and this led to creation of Rolls-Royce Company. Another genius car manufacturer was Henry Ford, who was the founder of the Ford Motor Company and sponsor of the assembly line technique for mass production development. Henry Ford developed the first automobile for the middle class Americans – T-model Ford. This was absolutely successful invention that positively affected people’s lives. T-model Ford, also known as Tin Lizzy, was the embodiment of the American dream – the car was everything that one ever wished for. It was the first car built simultaneously by various countries.
Science develops constantly, therefore successful inventions and creations by engineers are made. The most well-known scientists and engineers came into history. For example, the first practical car was designed and built by Karl Benz. One more automobile inventor is Gotlieb Daimler, who was the first one “to patent successful internal-combustion engine” (19th-Century German Aviation, 2010). Besides, he was the founder of Daimler company, that produced the first Mercedes car. Edwin Armstrong devised a feedback circuit that made invention of FM radio possible, and later on Armstrong “improved upon in his wideband FM” (Frost, 2010). Another revolutionary invention was the stereoscopic TV in 1946 created by John Logie Baird. Heat transfer and steam transport were thoroughly studied by David Nelson Crosthwait Jr. Mechanical engineering comprises aerospace industry, so technical revolution in this sphere was obligatory. The rocket engine was perfected by Werhner von Braun; he eventually became the participant of the space shuttle program. Agricultural machinery was developed by Max Eyth. There are lots of examples of successful inventions and creations that changed people’s lives to better side. The main thing about success in engineering is not to be afraid of mistakes and to check assumptions. There could be only two ways: either it is a success and achievement or a big failure. Great achievements can be reached through seeking opportunities, and gaining research experience.
Nevertheless, not every invention is a success, and from time to time failures happen to mechanical engineers. Creations are made to perform a given function, and it is important that device should perform its function without malfunction. The mechanical engineer ought to exert their selves to their most to develop it in the way as to avoid flop, and what is crucial, catastrophic failures which can lead to the technology user’s environmental mishap, loss of possessions, and possibility of health problems or even death. Such failures are called man-made catastrophes, and “fires, explosions, airplane crashes, maritime disasters, railway disasters, space disasters, and nuclear and industrial accidents” (Davis, 2002) are the most common of them. For example, the list of the “deadliest fires or explosions in the world of all time, excluding bombings and wartime attacks” (NFPA, 2012) comprises some of mechanical engineering failures consequences. Among others there are Nuclear power plant chemical explosion that led to release of nuclear radiation in Kiev, U.S.S.R. (April 26, 1986), Pesticide plant explosion that released deadly chemical fumes in Bhopal, India (December 3, 1984), Steamship boiler explosion in New York, USA (June 15, 1904) etc. Engineering systems eventually fail. Learning from failures can help engineers to reduce future failures. “Failures occur due to a complex mix of problems, in particular deterioration with time and changing conditions. But other factors such as human errors and safety culture need to be considered.” (Hopkins, 2012). Primary causes of engineering disasters should always be considered, as insufficient knowledge of engineer can result in a catastrophe. “The concept of the safety ffactor is used throughout the mechanics and design sequence in mechanical engineering” (Musto, 2010). Considering the risks and benefits of mechanical engineering, scientists do not develop projects.
The mechanical engineers invent machines to manufacture goods and develop mechanized tools of increased complexity and accuracy to create other machines. Development of machinery lines led to increase of quality and economy in production, and minimized operating costs. Machines as a branch of mechanical engineering are successful for they have the control system integrated in them. The modern conveyor line for automobile engines manufacturing is a good example of mechanization of complex manufacturing processes. Developments help to automate production further, using computers to store and process the vast amount of data needed for manufacturing process. The mechanical engineering is also responsible for invention of electrical and nuclear engineering. Besides, skills applied at civilian life are similar to those applied to war. The demands of war challenged engineers to raise their creative efficiency and to enhance the destructive power. The most notable examples used both for military and peaceful purposes, are jet aircrafts and nuclear reactors. Another branch that originated from the mechanical engineering is the aerospace engineering. These two are a typical combination of engineering fields, for example, in mechanical design of a skip-cycle mechanism, during which “all the components of the mechanism were designed according to the real dimensions of the Anadolu Motor’s gasoline engine and modeled in 3D by means of CAD software” (Gerzeli, 2011). Applied engineering is used practically in all fields of science, for example, in medical and chemistry technologies. For example, Nanoscale Science, Engineering, and Technology Subcommittee establish “activities to protect public health” (NEHI). As for the chemistry, all equipment is manufactured by engineers. It is obvious, that mechanical engineering is the part of present time.
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The mechanical engineering plays a sufficient part in people’s lives. Engineers apply knowledge to design, analysis and constructional works of practical purpose. The mechanical engineers provide world with structures, machines, manufacturing processes that make life easier and more comfortable. Throughout the history examples of engineering success are found: invention of the engine, the first car manufactured, tremendous success in medicine, chemistry, surgery, engineering (electrical, aerospace, mechanical, nuclear etc.), plants built, first step of man on the Moon etc. Engineers apply scientific method of research; choose solutions that best match the requirements. They have a crucial task of identifying, understanding and interpreting the constraints on a design in order to produce a successful result. Engineering is the key factor of human development.