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Running Head: FORMAL RESEARCH REPORT: MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

Formal Research Report: Mechanical Engineering


Benjamin J. Beckas
Michigan State University

FORMAL RESEARCH REPORT: MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

Executive Summary
The objective of this report is to inform about the academic discipline mechanical engineering.
Employers of mechanical engineers prefer a bachelors degree for entry level jobs. Research
done by N. Gner to test the theory of teaching aspects of mathematics in engineering classes
when such applications are needed improves the education of engineers. The results showed that
students that took these alternative courses were more satisfied with their engineering education.
Data from U. S. News showed that the salary for mechanical engineers is on the rise and the
mean salary for a job in this academic discipline is 85,930 dollars. A trade publication by T.
Hoske and R. Robbins showed that engineers are more valuable to firms than firms realize.
Smaller firms tend to use the full scope of engineers, while larger firm reduce engineers scope
and are more specialized. Dr. Tim Hinds informed that communication in the engineering is done
orally through presentations and written through technical memos. Research by A. Bar-Cohen
showed how research conducted in mechanical engineering changed due to the information age.
Changes included less time in the development process of products and different roles for
engineers in the development process.

FORMAL RESEARCH REPORT: MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

Formal Research Report: Mechanical Engineering

Introduction
The objective of this report is to inform about the academic discipline mechanical
engineering. A scholarly article by A. Bar-Cohen and a trade publication by M. Hoske and R.
Robbins are qualitatively analyzed. Mechanical engineer and faculty in the engineering
department at Michigan State University Pr. Tim Hinds provides information on mechanical
engineering from his experiences.

Education
Employers of mechanical engineers prefer a bachelors degree for entry level jobs. A
bachelors degree typically takes at least four years to complete. This degree usually requires
general classes in math, humanities, science, social sciences, and engineering during the first two
years. Following that studies include calculus, thermodynamics, physics, materials science,
statics, dynamics, fluid dynamics, and laboratory sections. Basics in other engineering
disciplines are also incorporated, such as chemical, electrical, and civil engineering.

The objective of education is to give the knowledge and skills that will adequately
prepare students for jobs in their academic discipline. In mechanical engineering mathematic
principles are needed for classes in the engineering curriculum. In 2008 S. Booth proposed
teaching mathematics in engineering courses when certain aspects of mathematics are needed for
the course. A study was done to test this theory. Mathematics topics, required by engineering
courses, were taught through engineering applications. The study found that students who took

FORMAL RESEARCH REPORT: MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

these mathematics courses that were altered to fit their academic discipline were more motivated
and more successful compared to those who took standard mathematics courses. These classes
would only focus on math required for engineering and ignored mathematics not required for the
engineering curriculum such as the theory of the topics being taught. However, mathematicians
argue that omitting subjects would damage the integrity of the subject and would lead to students
not acquiring the required mathematical knowledge. Another study conducted by E. Binglbah,
J. Monaghan, and T. Roper in 2003 four mechanical engineering students opinions on
mathematics courses and their thoughts on taking mathematics courses were investigated. The
study found that the students considered mathematics a tool for engineering and mathematical
theory is not necessary for the academic discipline mechanical engineering. In a survey by N.
Gner 605 prospective engineering students were asked how their mathematics course could
have been improved. Around 24 percent of the responses suggested omitting topics of
mathematics not related to that students academic discipline and focusing on mathematics
required for engineering. From the findings in these studies it is safe to conclude that focusing on
mathematics required for mechanical engineering would improve the education in that academic
discipline. However, transferring to a mathematics major could cause problems with receiving an
adequate education in that academic discipline because some of the subjects needed for that field
were not covered in the engineering based mathematics courses (Gner).

Economic
The salary of mechanical engineers is increasing as shown in figure 1. According to the
Bureau of Labor Statistics the mean annual salary for mechanical engineers was 85,930 dollars
in 2013. To put mechanical engineering in perspective of other jobs involving technology,

FORMAL RESEARCH REPORT: MECHANICAL ENGINEERING


computer programmers earn a mean salary of 80,930 dollars and information security analysts
earn a mean salary of 91,210 dollars (U.S. News). As of May 2013 approximately 258,630
mechanical engineers were employed in the United States. Figure 2 shows the amount of
mechanical engineers employed in each state. Michigan, California, and Texas are among the
states that employ the most mechanical engineers.

Figure 1

Figure 2
In 2010 T. Hoske and R. Robbins published a trade publication proposing that
mechanical engineers are more important to businesses than many realize. For the research,
salary and career surveys were given to mechanical engineers and those involved in mechanical
engineering. The survey had been done previously multiple times with the same participants to

FORMAL RESEARCH REPORT: MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

compare and obtain information on salaries and viewpoints of respondents on their career in
mechanical engineering. Surveys showed that of mechanical engineers whose department grew
47 percent of them received a compensation increase, while those who upgraded to a
management position only saw a compensation increase of 29 percent of the respondents, and
those who were considered loyal to their companies and spent more than 10 years at their
company only saw a compensation increase out of 25 percent of the respondents. T. Hoske and
R. Robbins concluded through comments from respondents on the survey and additional research
that management in large firms dont understand the value engineers bring to a firm. This is
because management focuses on their competition more then on their customers. This means
management gives less thought on the satisfaction of their customers and only focuses is on
customers being more satisfied with their firm over a competitor. The objective of management
in a firm is to maximize a firms profits. If management is focused on making customers more
satisfied with their product or service compared to a competitor, lowering prices lower than a
competitors while still providing similar results out of the product or service is an option.
Lowering prices and keeping firm profits the same requires cutting costs. According to T. Hoske
and R. Robbins engineering is the cost that can be reduced in larger firms. T. Hoske and R.
Robbins proposed management doesnt understand the value engineers can bring to a firm. Some
comments from the survey were from mechanical engineers who had been hired by smaller
developing firms. These respondents said they were hired to do a specific task for the firm, but
their tasks expanded and they played a huge role in the development of the new firm. Those
respondents also mentioned that more mechanical engineers were hired for their firm. This
makes part of the group of respondents that said there department grew and according to the
survey this group had the highest percentage of respondents salarys increase. By the evidence

FORMAL RESEARCH REPORT: MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

shown from the survey it is save to conclude that the reason for this group having the highest
percentage of respondents salary increase is because firms that hire more mechanical engineers
are aware that mechanical engineers have a high scope of tasks they are able to do to improve a
firms value. T. Hoske and R. Robbins concluded that large firms typically dont allow
mechanical engineers use their full range of skills and knowledge to help the value of a firm.
These firms usually have mechanical engineers they hire to work on specific or specialized tasks.
Smaller companies allow mechanical engineers to have a wide exposure to full product
development. However, these jobs tend to have the lowest pay, benefits, and job security (Hoske
and Robbins).
Communication
Communication is defined by Merriam Webster as the act or process of using words,
sounds, signs, or behaviors to express or exchange information. Mechanical engineer and faculty
of the engineering department at Michigan State University, Professor Tim Hinds, gave
information on how communication is performed in the field of engineering. Oral
communication in this academic discipline typically consists of presentations. Presentations
typically communicate information about development of a design or product or research being
done. Written communication is done through technical memos. Memos reflect the work done on
a project or research. Memos include the problem statement or objective of the project, then
inform about any research done. Methods to reach the objective are then discussed and results of
the different methods are discussed. Pr. Hinds concluded by informing that communication skills
are just as important for mechanical engineers to have as engineering knowledge and skills.

FORMAL RESEARCH REPORT: MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

Research
In 1995 A. Bar-Cohen published a scholarly journal on drastic changes to the engineering
profession in the information age. One change is the development process of products has been
shortened. In many cases most of a products profit is earned within the six months of its release.
Therefore being late to a market on a product costs a substantial portion of anticipated revenue
for a firm. Technology has made keeping knowledge of what a firm is developing a secret
difficult. Therefore development processes must be done quickly so the product can be released
before another competing firm can release a similar product and revenue is reduced. The other
change A. Bar-Cohen discussed was the three types of engineers that are used for product
development. The first is the generalist. The generalist is a creative engineer whose job is to
come up with a design or idea on a conceptual or general level, hence the name generalist. A
generalist engineer gave this quote the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent
for absorbing positive knowledge. The next type of engineer is the gatekeeper. This category
of engineer provides information to the generalists working in product development teams.
These engineers scout the technical literature, equipment, exhibits, and research symposia for
new data, new insights, and new technologies that can be used in developing a firms product.
The final type of engineer in the product development process is the superspecialists.
Superspecialists are the engineers that gatekeepers talk to to gain information.
Superspecialists work in laboratories or shared research institutions. To conclude the research
of A. Bar-Cohen, the information age has caused the time for development of products to
drastically shorten and engineers in the development process for product have been divided into
three groups with different tasks in the development process.

FORMAL RESEARCH REPORT: MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

Conclusion
To conclude the research on mechanical engineering, employers of mechanical engineers
require bachelors degree for entry level jobs. The research done by N. Gner showed that
teaching aspects of mathematics in engineering classes when applications are needed improves
the education of students. U. S. News showed the salary of mechanical engineers is on the rise
and the mean annual salary is 85,930 dollars. T. Hoske and R. Robbins showed engineers are
more valuable to firms than firms realize. Pr. Tim Hinds informed oral communication for
mechanical engineering is typically done through presentations and written communication is
done through technical memos. A. Bar-Cohen informed that the process of engineering
development decreased and engineers are divided into three groups.

FORMAL RESEARCH REPORT: MECHANICAL


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References
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Booth, S. (2008). Learning and teaching engineering mathematics for the knowledge society.
European Journal of Engineering Education, 33(3), 381-389.

Binglbah, E., Monaghan, J. & Roper, T. (2003). Engineering students' views of mathematics:
The role of the institution in shaping students' views. Paper presented at the 3rd
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Mechanical Engineer: Salary. (n.d.). Retrieved March 22, 2015, from


http://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/mechanical-engineer/salary

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roquest.com/docview/230163402?accountid=12
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(n.d.). Retrieved March 23, 2015, from http://www.merriamwebster.com/dictionary/communication