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Mechanical Engineering Technician


Many essential machines such as boats, energy conservation systems and heating mechanisms are products of mechanical engineering. Mechanical engineering technicians work under the guidance and supervision of mechanical engineers to plan the technical details of machines, tools, engines and other mechanical devices. They help with the design, building and maintenance of machines, such as air-conditioning systems, washing machines and refrigeration systems. A mechanical engineering technician serves as the link between engineers and skilled tradespeople. Their work focuses on improving our existing mechanical structures and machinery while searching to find more economical and environmental solutions to potential problems.

Mechanical technicians adopt scientific, mathematical and engineering theories in order to solve various technical problems in the areas of research and development, manufacturing, construction, sales, inspection and maintenance. Some mechanical engineering technicians estimate construction costs and suggest materials to be used in particular projects, while others survey land-sites, prepare sketches and drawings and monitor instruments used in research studies. Also, mechanical engineering technicians can specialize as boiler testing technicians, hydraulic control technicians, mechanical detail drafters, mechanical engineering drafters, pipe testing technicians or tool design detail drafters.

Different areas that mechanical engineering technicians may decide to specialize in are research and development, quality control and manufacturing. In development and research, technicians often work in laboratories conducting scientific studies and research for mechanical engineers. They also participate in field surveys, inspections or technical investigations of power plants, water supply systems and dams and provide their findings as data in engineering projects. Computers are commonly used to process laboratory test data and prepare computer-aided designs. Quality control involves conducting inspections and studies on improving the mechanical processes and machinery on production lines. Tests must routinely be performed in order to test the existing quality of certain mechanical engineering structures. The manufacturing side deals more with hands-on design, development and even possibly the production of machinery.

Mechanical engineering technicians may work independently or provide technical support in other engineering disciplines and projects. While job titles and duties vary depending on the field of mechanical engineering where one chooses to be employed, mechanical engineering technicians have general technician backgrounds and are very flexible in terms of where they can work. In most projects, they assist in designing, using CAD to create realistic geometric models. They are required to constantly update their skills and knowledge in order to keep up with technological advancements in this quickly changing field.
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  Interests and Skills  
What interests and skills does it take to become a mechanical engineering technician? They should be good at sketching drawings, mathematics and mechanical problem solving and able to visualize three-dimensional objects from two-dimensional drawings. Communication skills, both in person and in writing are crucial because technicians work in teams with engineers and scientists. They should also enjoy obtaining and analyzing test results, finding innovative solutions to problems and taking a methodical approach to their work.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Assist in preparing engineering design, drawings and specifications
  • Carry out a limited range of mechanical tests and analyses of machines, components and materials
  • Assist with designing moulds, tools, dies, jigs and fixtures for use in manufacturing process
  • Help inspect mechanical installations and construction projects
  • Participate in the installation, repair and maintenance of machinery and equipment.
  • Mechanical engineering technicians usually work indoors in offices, laboratories or manufacturing facilities. Some technicians may work outdoors at construction sites, supervising the building process or at plants. At certain plants, technicians may be exposed to toxic fumes, dust or other safety hazards. Mechanical engineering technicians generally work regular five day, 40-hour weeks, with the possibility for longer hours in order to meet project deadlines.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Mechanical engineering technicians work in many different positions in the public and private sectors. Some work for engineering consulting firms, power generating utilities and a wide range of manufacturing, processing and transportation industries. Public workers are found in government agencies and educational or research institutions. Some mechanical engineering technicians are self-employed and work on the freelance basis.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Entry-level mechanical engineering technicians may begin their career by performing routine duties under the close supervision of an engineer. As they gain experience, they are often given more responsibility and more challenging assignments, often with less supervision. Certain mechanical engineering technicians may eventually move into more managerial roles and become supervisors.

  Educational Paths  
Completion of a one- or two-year college program in mechanical engineering technology is usually required for mechanical engineering technicians. A certification in mechanical engineering technology or a related field is available through associations of engineering or applied science technologists and technicians and may be required for some positions.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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