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Survivalguideformechanicalengineersonthe
journeytocreateastonishingengineering.
KR I SHN AN AN D B HAT

CreditsforthisanswergoestoananonymoususerandalsotoMukundaMadhavaNathfor
repostingthecontentsaftertheoriginalanswerdisappeared.

Firstthing:Solidworks/ProE/AutoCAD/Rhino/Blender/CATIAandGD&Tarenotskillsfor
degree'dengineers.Y oudon'tdoaBS/MEfordraftsmanship.It'slikeputtingMSOfficeon
yourresume.Y oucanpickthatskilluponyourowntime.

Secondthing:Iamtalkingaboutbecominganengineerhere.Y ouknow,thekindthatbuild
rocketsandmicroengines(SandiaMEMSHomePage ).Ihavenothingagainstgrades,butI
don'tcareverymuchforthem.SoIamnottalkingaboutgettingthebestgrades.

Now.Here'swhatyouneedtoacquireproficiencyinthroughyour4yearBS.

0.ReadWikipedia.

1.ProgrammingStartwithMatlab/Python.ThengraduatetoC++.Anexampleofa
programminggoalwouldbetousethistocreateyourowncomputationalgraphicsengines.
Why?Becausethisteachesyouaboutvisualizingvectors,arrays,transformsandleadsyouto
higherdimensionalalgebra.MakesureyoucanunderstandandimplementRungeKutta
familyofalgorithmsbeforeyouthinkyouaredone.Arecommendationwouldbetoditch
WindowsandmovetosomeflavourofLinuxorMac.Y ouneedtounderstandconceptsbehind
batch/shellscriptingandimportingopensourcescriptstoembedinsideyourown.Ifyoudon't
doanythingelseinyourfreshmanorsophomoreyears,that'sfine.Butmakesureyoumaster
this.

2.LinearalgebraanddifferentialequationsNow,mostMEsyllabiforcethecourseson
youearlyon.ButveryfewMEstrulyunderstandthesetopics.ThisisthesourceofallME
theory.ICANNOTSTRESSTHISENOUGH!MostMEprofessorsDONOTunderstandlinear
algebraoritsimportancetheywillfuckitupforyousoyouwillbeconfused/avoidderivative
topicsforever.Don'ttakethesecoursesofferedinsideyourdepartmenttakethemfromCSor
EEorMathprofessors.OrlearnitfromGilbertStrangonY outube.Tiethistogetherwithyour
programmingtocreatenumericalsimulations.DoNOTtakethesecoursesuntilyouaredone
withyourprogramming.

3.StatisticsTakethistwice.Audititasafreshman.Thentakethecourseagainasasenior.
Thiswillbethesinglemostimportantcourseyouevertakeasaprofessionalinanyfield.

4.EngineeringmathematicsTherestofyourlifedependsonthis.Payattentiontospatial
transforms,Fourieranalysis,Complexanalysis,Potentialtheory,PDEs,Interpolation/curve
fitting,optimizationtheory.Lookforwaystoimplementtheseconceptsusingyour
programmingskills.Ifyoueverwonderabouttheusefulnessofanyofthis,oryougetthe
choicetoskipafewtopicsyouaredoingitwrong.Goodengineersusetheseconcepts
EVERY DAY .

5.Dynamics/AdvanceddynamicsTakethisinthePhysicsdepartment.MEprofsscrewit
uphereagain,theyfocusonthemechanicsofalgebraicmanipulationanddon'texplain
conceptsverywell.Y ourobjectivewouldbetobeabletoindependentlyconstructFBDsof
complexinteractingmechanisms,andgenerateclassicalnon/autonomous,non/linear
differentialequationsthatdescribethetimehistoryofthesystem.Developafamiliaritywith
indexnotationandtensorsandoperatorspaces.Y ourindicialprogrammingexperiencewill
reallyhelpyouhere.
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6.Statics/SolidmechanicsMasterTimoshenkoGoodier/Theoryofelasticity.Evenifit SignIn
takesyoutherestofyourlife.Ifyougotthroughpoint2,youshouldbeabletopointoutthe
inefficiencyoftheSFDsandBMDsandMohr'scircleconcepts.Tryvisualizingthesimplecases
whilecognizantthatlifeisnotsimple.Useyourprogrammingfinessetoprogramnumerical
solutionstoyourODEsandequations.

7.VibrationtheoryIfyouactuallygotthroughpoint2,youwillfindthisabreeze.Allthey
dohereisstudyasecondorder,non/homogenous,non/autonomousnon/dimensionalized
ordinarydifferentialequationandtheeffectsofparametricvariations(mkc,forcing
frequency).Ifyougotthrough5,youshouldbeabletofigureoutallthebaseexcitation,
seismicperturbation,isolation,rotatingmachineryconcepts.Ifyougotthrough6,then
plates/beamvibrationproblems.Ifyougotthrough2&4,youwillbeabletoworkthrough
MDOFsystemsandallthemodalanalysistechniques.Thisiswhereyouseguetocoupled
SHO/QHOconcepts.

8.Thermodynamics/FluidicsIamnottherightpersontoadviseonthesetopics.Butthey
areprettystraightforwardattheundergraduatelevelandmostlyapplicationsofdifferential
equationsandcontinuummechanics.

Ifyoufollowedinstructionssofar,everythingelseisastraightforwardapplicationofwhatyou
shouldhavelearnedbynow.That'sallyoureallyneedtobeadegree'dmechanicalengineer
mathandphysics.Everythingelseisaspecializationandextensionofdomainsfromthe
presentedfieldsintospecifictasks.Thisisalsowhereyoustartencounteringprofessional
jargon.Anddon'tletterms/eponymsscareyouoff.

Alsomechanicalengineersdontgenerallydesignmachinesfromscratchhobbyistsand
mathematiciansdo.Wefollowstandardsforourindustry,mixandmatchcomponents,oruse
welldefinedalgorithmstocreateanewone.Thereareconceptsinkinematicchains,algebraic
linkagesynthesisanddesignthatareusedhere.Sosureyoucanreadaboutgearsand
machineryand4barlinkagesandcamsandgenevawheels,butitishighlyimprobablethat
you,asanME,willcreateone.Itismorelikelythatatechnicianorasheetmetalworkerwill
createsomethingutterlybrilliant.Soifthatswhatyouwanttodo,figureongradschool.Y ou
canhoweveruseyoursolidmechanicsskillstodesignthecomponentstowithstand
pyrotechnicimpacts.

Iskipovermanufacturingand'productengineering'classesbecausetheyareshit,whentaught
inschool.Y oucan'tmastermanufacturingsittinginaclass,andyoucertainlyarenevergoing
tolearnenoughinschoolabouthowtodesignafullproduct.Thoseaxiomaticdesignprinciples
andsynecticsandproductlifecyclemanagementandideationandGanttchartsand
brainstormingprocessesarebullshit.Nobodyinreallifedoesthat.Thosewhodo,arenot
engineers.Ifyoureallywanttounderstandmanufacturing,skimthroughManufacturing
ProcessesforDesignProfessionalsbyRobThompson,thengotalkwithpeopleonshopfloors,
orwatchhowit'smadeonY outube.Ifyoureallywanttounderstandtheproductdesign
process,followKickstarterh/wstartupstories.

Donoteverwasteyourtimeonsurveyorpresentationcourses.Avoidattendingschool
seminarsifyouarenotinterestedinthetopic.Y oushouldattendallseminarsthatpromiseto
showyoumathorprocessorcoolvideos.Y ouwanttokeepanearoutforexamplesandcase
studiesthatshowexplicitdetailsofhowsystemsgetmodeled/implementedusingmathor
experiments.Avoid'design'seminars(usuallyapeddlerfromWhartonorSloanorKellog)
theyarepretty,butpointless.

Takealllabclassesyoucan.ALLofthem.Allyoucanafford.Potterytoo,ifyouhavethat
option.Justdropintowatchotherpeopleworkifyougotthefreetime.Potteryaswell.Usethe
equipmenttheretillyoubreakitY ouarepayingforitanyway.Makeallthemistakesyoucan
everimaginethere.ANDDON'TFUCKAROUNDINTHEMACHINESHOPBRO!!!

Amongstotheradvice,findaPhDstudentabouttograduateeveryyearandgetthemto
mentoryou.DontbelieveinthatIambusycraptheyallareusuallyonQuoraorediting
Wikipediaanyway.Ispeakfromexperience.Pickpeoplefromdiversefieldsmachine
learning,operationsoptimization,publicpolicy,neurobiology,kerneldevelopmentY ouwant
tounderstandwhattheydo,howtheydoit,whattheyusetodoitandcreateapossiblejob
network.Y oudontwantseniorstomentoryoubecause,unlesstheygotogradschool,they
willneverbeinanypositiontointroduceyoutogreatopportunitiesontimescalesrelevantto
yourinterests.

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Now,let'stalkaboutbeingaprofessionalmechanicalengineer
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9.ReadISO/ASME/ASTM/ASTC/ASMI(standardsorganizations)standardpractices.
That'stheonlyplacewheretheyreallytellyouhowtheorymeetspractice.Ifyoubelieveyour
universitydoesn'tprovideyouaccesstothoseSuethem!Beg/borrow/steal.Whatever.Butif
youreallywanttoknowhowthingsaredoneReadthestandards.Notthewebsiteandtheir
discussionforums.Readthestandards.

10.Take/Auditcoursesonelectromagnetism,digitalelectronics,electricaltheory,
VLSI/Siliconbaseddesigns,electricalmachinery.Y oushouldbeabletodesignyour
ownmotordriver/filter/powerregulator/multivibratorcircuitsandimplementthemonPCBs.
Startdippingintoembeddedmicrocontrollershere.ThisiswhereyouC++experienceshould
startpayingoff.

11.SignalprocessingAudio/image/PowersignalsMasterthetopicofdiscreteFourier
transforms/spectraldensitiesandhowtheyareusedandcalculated.Figureouthowdigital
samplinganddigitalfiltersworkandhowfiltersandmasksgetdesigned.Moveontoz
transformsandrecursivefilters.Y ourstatisticsbackgroundstartstobecomeusefulhere.At
leastfigureouthowtomanipulateimagesusingpixelarraymath.

12.ControlsystemsTHIStiesupeverything.AndTHISwasthetopicthatreallygotyou
intoME.Y oudidn'tjoinMEtomakebridgesorprepareCADlayoutsforGEovensortractor
enginesorboilerchambersforplantsorbeagreasemonkey.Y oujoinedMEtomake
structuresthatmove,intelligently.Ifyouhavedonethingsrightsofar,thisiswhereyouwill
gettohavefun.Ittiestogetheryourdynamicsandlinearalgebrafirst,thenprogramming,
signalprocessingandstatisticsnext,finallyyouimplementitallusingyour
electronics/embeddedskills.

13.InstrumentationPeoplehaveequipmentthatcostsbetweenathousanddollarstoover
severalmillion.Y ouneedtolearnhowtousethem,ANDhowtoconstructthem.Y ouwillfind
thatmakingequipmentisalwayscheaperthanbuyingaturnkeysystemfromamanufacturer.
Socompaniesprefertodesign/assembletheirownsystems.Thisshouldsegueintodesignof
experiments/statisticalvalidation.Y ourgoalshouldbetoknowhowtohookupthehydraulic
pressuregaugeinanEMDF51PHIlocomotivecabsuspended10ftupinashedtoanofficein
Minnesota.

Alongwithinstrumentation,youwillfrequentlyneedtodevelopsoftwaretocontrolthe
instruments.Somepeopleuselabview,butwithyourmasteryofC/matlabyouwilldobetter.

Ifyouwanttogetintofiniteelements,youcantdothatinundergrad.Allyouwilllearnisto
pushbuttons.MostengineersonlythinktheyunderstandFEAtheyactuallydont.Ittakes
practice,studyandexperience.Theprettypicturesdontmeanmuchbythemselves.SoIwill
saygotogradschoolorinternwithapracticingconsultant.

Thatshouldaboutcoveryourbasicsandgetyouagoodjob.Butifyouwanttogetagreatjob,
youwillneedprofessionaldegreesorexhibitskillsinsomeofthefollowing.So,onto
specialization:

1.Fracture/fatigue/materialsonthenanoscale.

2.MEMSLookupSandiaNationalLabs/MEMS.BiggestopportunityforMEssinceall
companiesaremovingfromRnDtorampingupproductionrightaboutnow.Micromachining
andprocessingtechnologiesresearchisactiveaswell.MOEMSwashot,sensorsaresizzling,
actuatorsnotsomuch,labonchipwasmeanderingabout,lastIchecked.Significanteffort
underwayondetermininglifetime/reliabilityaswell.Peoplewereexcitedaboutenergy
harvesting,butthatseemstobetoneddownnow.Lotsofmaterialscienceopportunities.

3.MicrofluidicsTheseguysblowbubblesthroughmicrochannels!Lookuplabonachip.

4.BioengineeringTissueprinting/engineering!Theresalsoresearchonmechanical
characterizationofbiomaterials(bones/ligaments/RBCs)

5.Medicaldevices/roboticsdaVinci/intuitive.Alsoswallowablerobotsandcameras.Lots
ofhealthmonitoringdevicesandORassistants.

6.Robotics/controlsystemsTypically,youneedtobecoreCS/EEforthis.Theyarethe
onesdoingmostofthisresearch.Butyoucancreateopportunitiesforyourselfbychoosingto

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focusondynamicstructuredesignorkinematicsorsomethingonthatorder.LookupHod
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Lipson/CornellorRedWhittaker/CMUorMarcRaibert/exCMU/MITleglabsorRob SignIn
Wood/Harvardforinspiration.GoogleandAmazonhaveraisedthisfieldsprofileoverthelast
coupleofyears.Lookupcompliantmechanisms/robots,autonomousvehicles,haptics,
telepresence,RaytheonXOSII,...Lotsofbullshitinthenameofassistiverobotics(thatno
onecanorwillwanttoaffordoruse,andmedicarewontsupport).

7.Controlsystems/avionicsIworkedonoptimizingdamageresilient,realtimecoolant
distributionthroughnuclearsubs,myexbossworkedonguidancesystemsforthe
Pershing/Herasystems.Thisisamatureengineeringfieldatthemoment(notmuchRnD)but
scopefornewapplications.

8.ThermoresearchTheydocrazythingswithcombustion,notmydomain.

9.NonlineardynamicsAppliedtheory,predictingweather(?!),galloping(hopf)systems,..
thisfieldgoesontillquantumcryptographyandthensome.

10.AerospacevehiclesSpaceX.Etc.Vibrationstheory,dynamicalsystemsandcontrols.
Y ourvibrationstheoryneedstobestronglycoupled.

11.InfrastructureGivenKeystoneorfracking,infrastructureisgoingtoundergoanother
massiveboom.

12.Petroleum

13.FEAMeshingandgeometryalgorithms,datacompression,renderingarebeing
researched

14.Energyfuelcellresearch,thecryptozoologyequivalentinMETheyvebeenatitfora
while,butitseemstobeafundinggenerationploy.

15.Marinesystems

16.TheoreticalsystemsLotsofworkonrulebasedmachinelearningbaseddesign
synthesis,structuraloptimization(backinearly2000sitwasallaboutsimulatedannealing
andgeneticalgos,nowtheycallitmachinelearning),dynamicselfmodeling,multiagent
systems,

17.MAV/FlightdynamicsConcentratedaroundrotorcraft/flappingwingarchitectures.
Mostlyexperimental,sometheoreticalresearchgoingon.

18.ICEresearchVeryavoid!

19.TribologyNonlineardynamicsofratestatedependentfrictiongenerate
P/S/Love/Rayleighwavephenomenausedtopredictearthquakes.Studyinghydrodynamic
lubricationofjournalbearingsisatrifleboringcomparedtothat.SeeRuina'sworkatBrown.

UniversitiesontheWestandEastcoasttypicallyworkonthenewfrontiersofresearch,while
therestworkonlastcenturyconcepts.SoifyougotoschoolinAK,youwillfindstuffon
corrosion,rotorblades,missiles,defense,aerospacemachiningButifyouareinMA,youwill
findmachinelearning,robotics,vision,SLAM,MEMS,materials,algorithmicsynthesis,
complexsystemsetc.

Ihavewrittenthislikethe"Survivalguideformechanicalengineersonthejourneytocreate
astonishingengineering".ThisiswrittenwithNorthAmericanADHDundergradsinmind.So
Itendtobedidactic,and,inthespiritoftimes,usehyperboletosignifyimportance(noselfies,
however.Muchdisappoint.).IalsoabuseeducationprofessionalsprofuselyButthat'sonly
mypersonalexperiencealltheadditionalworkIhadtoputinbecausecourseswerenot
designedright,orbecauseanewlyhiredasstprofessorwasinchargeofaparticularcourse
thattheyhadnoexperienceinorbecausethelecturer,originallyfromAsia,hadthisdistracting
accentandcircuitousdescriptionthatjustbeataboutthebushmorethanIcouldkeeptrackof
ormaybebecausemostofthefreshman/sophomore/introductorycourses,speciallynoncore
MEcourses,aregenerallyfannedouttotempstaff/lecturersthatgenerallydon'tknowjackshit
abouthowthingsaredoneordontcare.Soyousee,personalfailingonmypart.That'smy
excusefortheabuse.Andthere'scatharsisinvolvedaswell.SoIapologizeinadvance.

IhaveaBS/AMEUSC,andMS/MAE,UCsystem,PhD/ME(andRI+LTI+ECE)CMU.I

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wasn'tagreatstudentduringmyBS2.7GPA,almostdroppedouttobeaprofessional
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musician.GRE1600/6.0happened.IjoinedthemastersprogrambecauseIwasgettinga SignIn
fellowship&stipend.Programminghappened.Y ouTubehappened.OCWvideocontent
happened.IworkedonprojectswithallorsomeofthefollowinglabsLLNL/SNL/LL
MIT/NRLMRY /NECSI/SFIthroughmyPhD.Foryourreference:MS/PhDGPA3.6/3.8.No
money,atthetimeofgraduation.Nowmakingsome.

Pleaseupvotetheblogposthere:

Survivalguideformechanicalengineersonthejourneytocreateastonishingengineeringby
MukundaMadhavaNathonMechanicallyInclined
3,328views6upvotesWritten9Dec2014

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