Free Online Mechanical Engineering Courses

Each tool or product people use in their everyday lives has to be designed before it can be sold and operated. Behind all of those objects, both large and small, are mechanical engineers. Individuals in this profession are tasked with understanding how a variety of factors will affect a product’s design and functionality. Mechanical engineers have to consider force and thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, manufacturing, combustion, and a host of other issues as they work. They must also consider each component of the object in question to ensure it will not break or fail because of a design flaw.

Mechanical engineering is one of the broadest engineering fields, with jobs of this type required in everything from space shuttle or automobile design to nanotechnology. Increasingly, technology companies that create ever-smaller chips, sensors, and electronic devices are in need of mechanical engineers to help them. On the other hand, biomechanical engineers work in healthcare, helping to design tools and products that work in conjunction with the human body. One of the biggest advantages to a degree in mechanical engineering is the flexibility it gives students to pursue a number of different careers after graduation.

Sample Courses

Mechanical engineering students should expect to take basic first-year courses, such as introduction to engineering, calculus and physics, engineering computing, materials science, or systems and fields. As students progress in their course of study, they will take more specific courses on fluid and solid mechanics, thermodynamics, electronics or circuits, and machine engineering. Students focusing on mechanical engineering in healthcare, information technology, manufacturing, or the environment will take engineering electives particular to their area of study.

Possible Specializations

Because mechanical engineering is such a broad field, students can have very different programs. Popular special interests include micro and nanotechnology, in which engineering students work with materials involved in building computers; bioengineering, in which students focus on fluid mechanics and the design of the human body; and energy and the environment, in which students study topics such as fuel cell systems, advanced thermodynamics, and combustion as a means of understanding energy use. Standard specializations, such as design and manufacturing or solid mechanics, are also consistently popular.

Degree Types

After choosing a specialization, students must choose which type of degree to pursue. Here’s what mechanical engineering students can hope to glean from each type of program:


For mechanical engineering students going into technical positions in manufacturing, drafting or design, material selection, or technical sales, an associate’s degree is appropriate. This degree will also prepare students to enroll in a bachelor’s degree program at many schools, if they wish, but will not qualify them for engineering jobs beyond the basic technical level.


A BSE is the standard degree expected for an engineer and gives graduates a range of employment options. With a bachelor’s degree, students can work in fields that deal with product design and development, manufacturing and operations, automotive technology and transportation, or automation.


Students who want to pursue specialized mechanical engineering fields will need a master’s degree. Especially in emerging fields like environmental engineering, biomechanics and nanotechnology, having an advanced degree and a clear specialization will help students find employment.


High-level and specialized research requires a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering. The majority of students won’t need this level of education to pursue a career in the field, but those with interests in niche areas like acoustics and vibrations, particular areas of nanotechnology, systems and controls or other highly technical topics should consider a doctorate. Those students wishing to go into mechanical engineering academia will also need this degree.

In addition to these degrees, students can earn certificates such as the Certified Manufacturing Engineer Certification (CMfgE), which can boost credentials and provide a chance for continuing education. Some universities, like Villanova, also offer certificate programs in areas like Machinery Dynamics, Thermofluid Systems, or Electro-Mechanical Systems.

Ideal Candidates for Mechanical Engineering

Many students who go into mechanical engineering already have some of the important traits for the profession: they’re detail-oriented, curious about how things work, and eager problem-solvers. Because the job always entails figuring out the best way to design a product or object, which tends to mean a great deal of trial and error, students should also be patient and creative, and they should be well versed in advanced science and math. Finally, despite the stereotype of engineers as loners, mechanical engineers often work in teams, so students should be able to collaborate and communicate with others.

Career Pathways

As a broad field, it’s difficult to predict the outlook for every individual mechanical engineer. However, the Bureau of Labor projects that as an entire profession, employment for mechanical engineers will grow approximately 5% from 2012 to 2022, which is slightly slower than average. It’s also a slightly slower rate than engineering in general, which is expected to grow by 9%. However, for those in nanotechnology, the outlook is probably better, especially for sharp engineers who stay ahead of recent advances. The majority of individuals in all mechanical engineering fields will need a bachelor’s degree.

Once students do find a position as a mechanical engineer, they can expect to earn a significantly higher than average wage. The median salary for all mechanical engineers in 2012 was $80,580. Computer and electronic product manufacturing earns the highest median salary, at $86,860, while fabricated metal product manufacturing was at the low end, with a median salary of $69,890. As with many professions, pay can vary substantially based on company, location, and job title.

If you’re interested in mechanical engineering as a career, there are many resources that will help guide you. Reach out to professional organizations, search for internships or grants, and learn from those in the field by way of online blogs or by contacting mechanical engineers in your community.

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Get More Out of Your Online Mechanical Engineering Courses

Consider the nearest water surface: a half-full glass on your desk, a puddle outside your window, or a lake across town. All of these surfaces represent liquid-vapor interfaces, where liquid meets air. Molecules of water vapor constantly collide with these liquid surfaces: Some make it through the surface and condense, while others simply bounce off.

The probability that a vapor molecule will bounce, or reflect, off a liquid surface is a fundamental property of water, much like its boiling point. And yet, in the last century, there has been little agreement on the likelihood that a water molecule will bounce off the liquid surface.

Jennifer Chu, MIT
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Mechanical Engineering in the News

Source: MIT News Office

Our Favorite Mechanical Engineering Blogs

Mechanical Engineering Journals & Trade Magazines

  • Journals

    • Advances in Mechanical Engineering

      In this peer-reviewed, open access journal, readers can view original research and review articles in many areas of mechanical engineering.

    • Applied Mechanical Reviews

      This journal, edited at the University of Illinois-Champaign, includes both retrospectives, as well as review articles in mechanical engineering.

    • ASHRAE Journal

      Written for mechanical engineers going into heating, ventilation and air-conditioning, this journal covers building sciences, engineering applications, energy modeling, and other topics.

    • Journal of Applied Mechanics

      This journal is published at Northwestern and covers original research across all branches of mechanics, providing scholarly analysis of results and implications.

    • Journal of Automation, Mobile Robotics & Intelligent Systems

      This quarterly journal focuses on achievements in automation and robotics, applied automatics, distributed systems, biomechatronics, and more.

    • Journal of Biomechanical Engineering

      Published at the University of Pennsylvania, this journal "reports research involving the application of mechanical engineering knowledge" to biomechanical systems.

    • Journal of Nanotechnology in Engineering and Medicine

      Focusing on the mechanics of engineering as well as medicine, this journal explores research and development in the field.

    • The Open Journal of Mechanical Engineering

      From Bentham Open, an open access online journal, which publishes research articles, reviews, letters and guest edited single topic issues, in all areas of mechanical engineering.

    • The Open Mechanical Engineering Journal

      This is a peer-reviewed and open access journal published by Bentham Open; it includes high-level scholarly articles and analysis.

  • Trade Magazines

    • Engineering Materials Magazine

      Published in the UK, this magazine is published quarterly and includes accessible articles about a range of mechanical engineering topics.

    • Materials Today

      Focusing especially on the materials side of engineering, this magazine touches on numerous mechanical topics.

    • Mechanical Engineering

      Published since 1880 by ASME for its professional and student members, this magazine covers mechanical engineering trends and breakthroughs.

    • Mechanical Engineering Magazine

      With topics like maintenance technology, control engineering, and medical design, this group publishes short magazines on all issues relevant to mechanical ...

Mechanical Engineering Grants & Scholarships

  • Grants

    • ASHRAE Senior Graduate Student Grant-in-Aid Award Program

      Deadline: December 15

      Award Amount: $10,000

      This grant goes to a full-time graduate student in a mechanical engineering or related field in order to help that student get involved in research and to establish a career in engineering.

    • National Defense Science & Engineering Graduate Fellowship

      Deadline: December 20

      Award Amount: Full college tuition, mandatory fees, and a monthly stipend

      This grant from the Department of Defense is aimed at supporting future mechanical engineers on their path to a graduate degree; awardees must be admitted to a suitable program.

    • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program

      Deadline: TBD

      Award Amount: Varies by project

      Fellowship grants from the National Science Foundation fund a large number of research projects, including mechanical engineering; students will receive three years of financial support.

  • Scholarships

    • ASHRAE High School Senior Scholarships

      Deadline: May 1

      Award Amount: $3,000

      These scholarships are given to four high school seniors planning to go into a pre-engineering or engineering program at a school that has an ASHRAE branch.

    • ASHRAE Undergraduate Engineering Scholarships

      Deadline: December

      Award Amount: $3,000-10,000

      Three scholarships are given to undergraduates enrolled in a full-time engineering program recognized by ASHRAE who have demonstrated both leadership and an ...

    • ASTM International Graduate Scholarship

      Deadline: April 30

      Award Amount: $10,000

      Up to four graduate students in mechanical engineering, training, and materials are given scholarships to help fund their tuition, books, fees, and materials ...

    • Department of Homeland Security Scholarship Program

      Deadline: TBD

      Award Amount: Varies

      This scholarship goes to support sophomore or junior undergraduates studying engineering, science, technology or mathematics related to one of the DHS research ...

    • Garland Duncan Scholarships

      Deadline: March 20

      Award Amount: $5,000

      This scholarship is for undergraduates in their sophomore year or beyond; applicants must be mechanical engineering majors and show academic and leadership ...

    • Mary R. Norton Memorial Scholarship Award for Women

      Deadline: December 15

      Award Amount: $1,000

      This scholarship is meant to help fund education for undergraduate seniors or first-year graduate students involved in mechanical engineering related to ...

    • Science, Mathematics & Research Transformation

      Deadline: TBD

      Award Amount: Full tuition

      This scholarship is for engineering students 18 or older who are interested in postgraduate work with the DoD; the award funds full tuition and provides a ...

    • SME Graduate Scholarships

      Deadline: Varies

      Award Amount: Varies

      SME offers seven different scholarships to help graduate students continue their education and research in mechanical engineering and related fields.

    • SME Graduating High School Senior Scholarships

      Deadline: Varies

      Award Amount: Varies

      SME offers over a dozen different scholarships for graduating high school seniors interested in mechanical engineering and related fields; many scholarships ...

Mechanical Engineering Internships

  • Boeing Internships

    Deadline: Varies

    Boeing seeks engineer interns from a wide variety of fields, including mechanical engineering, and asks those interns to work both independently and collaboratively with company engineers.

  • Department of Homeland Security Summer Internship Program

    Deadline: TBD

    DHS offers 10-week summer internships to undergraduate students in engineering, technology, science and mathematics, allowing students to conduct research at federal facilities.

  • HP: Mechanical Engineering Intern

    Deadline: Rolling

    This internship with Hewlett Packard is for undergraduates in their sophomore year or later who are majoring in mechanical engineering and wish to work with a mentor on assigned projects.

  • LORD Corporation Mechanical Engineering Co-op

    Deadline: Varies

    LORD is seeking numerous mechanical engineering students to participate in co-ops, similar to lengthy internships, in the coming year; students from Pennsylvania may apply.

  • Naval Research Enterprise Internship Program

    Deadline: TBD

    Offered by the Department of Navy laboratories, this internship is for undergraduate and graduate students involved in mechanical engineering or a related field.

  • Northrup Grumman Internship

    Deadline: Rolling

    This corporation, combining security and engineering, regularly seeks high school and undergraduate interns from mechanical engineering and related fields to participate in research and education.

  • Washington Internships for Students of Engineering

    Deadline: December 31

    This internship, geared for junior or senior undergraduates in engineering, brings those students to Washington D.C. for 9 weeks in the summer, allowing them to work with government engineers.

  • Yazaki Co-ops and Summer Internships

    Deadline: Varies

    Yazaki, which works in automotive component manufacturing, hosts interns in the summer and throughout the year to support students' education in mechanical and materials engineering.

Mechanical Engineering Student & Professional Organizations

  • Student Organizations

    • ASTM International

      Formerly the American Society of Testing and Materials, this organization is focused on the testing of and quality in mechanical engineering projects; students ...

    • Mechanical Engineering Graduate Student Association

      One of the larger and more well known university organizations in the field, this Ohio State group advises, assists and involves graduate students in ...

    • Pi Tau Sigma

      Pi Tau Sigma selects its active members from a pool of juniors and seniors in mechanical engineering classes who show potential for future success.

    • Tau Beta Pi

      The national student engineering honor society, this Greek group has chapters on college and university campuses across the country, supporting students from ...

  • Professional Organizations