Mechanical Design Technology Degree and Training Program Info
Learn about undergraduate and graduate programs that offer areas of study related to mechanical design technology. Read about program options, specialization options, coursework and employment opportunities in this field.
Mechanical design technology is used in industrial production to ensure that items are designed and engineered in a way that maximizes manufacturing efficiency and consumer satisfaction. The field requires highly trained, detail-oriented professionals who enjoy using mechanical design and engineering concepts to solve production problems. Studying this field at the associate's degree level can prepare students to work as mechanical designers and drafters, as well as engineering technicians, but not engineers. At the bachelor's degree level, students can enroll in programs in engineering, engineering technology or industrial technology management, which will all prepare them for different careers. At the master's degree level, engineering programs are available with a concentration option in mechanical design, and to enroll in such a program a student must typically hold a bachelor's degree in engineering.
Associate of Applied Science Degree in Mechanical Design Technology
Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Mechanical Design Technology programs teach students to design products using relevant engineering concepts and computer-aided design (CAD) technologies. An affinity for understanding spatial relationships and performing hands-on work using tools are the kinds of qualities and skills demonstrated by successful mechanical design technology students. Students usually start the program having earned a high school diploma or general equivalency diploma (GED) and one year or more of previous coursework in algebra.
A.A.S. in Mechanical Design Technology programs prepare students to use the latest CAD technologies to produce two- and three-dimensional assembly and tooling drawings and to provide engineering specifications. Students learn to build scale models, communicate technical information and solve mechanical engineering problems. In addition to covering CAD technologies and general education requirements, coursework may include:
- Manufacturing processes
- Technical drafting
- Computer applications
- Mechanical concepts
- Tool design
- Design elements and problems
- Technical math
- Mechanical engineering basics
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that mechanical engineering technician jobs, a category that includes mechanical designers and mechanical drafters, will grow 4% for the years 2010 through 2020 (www.bls.gov). The BLS reported that the median annual salary earned by mechanical engineering technicians in May 2012 was $51,980.
People who earn an A.A.S. in Mechanical Design Technology to qualify for design or drafting careers do not usually require further formal education. Most will keep up with technological advances in the field on the job. Those who would like to enhance their qualifications by learning more about industrial manufacturing or engineering principles may pursue a bachelor's degree in mechanical design technology.
Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical Design Technology
Students may study mechanical design technology as a concentration in Bachelor of Science (B.S.) programs in engineering technology or bachelor's degree programs in industrial technology management. The programs combine an education in the related discipline with an emphasis on mechanical design. People interested in a bachelor's degree with a mechanical design technology concentration may want to seek programs in the discipline closely related to their career goals. For example, students interested in becoming engineering technologists might look to B.S. in engineering technology programs. Those aspiring to have production management responsibilities might seek out industrial technology management programs.
A large part of the first two years is spent taking general education courses. Coursework for the major will typically include the following:
- Technical writing
- Industrial risk control and safety
- Industrial management
- Engineering design graphics
- Mechanism design
- Machine design
- Industrial design
- Modeling and prototypes
- Manufacturing materials
- Energy and power
- Common methods, processes and management of production
Coursework will also cover the program discipline. An industrial technology management program may include courses in plastics, energy, metal and power technology as well as technical writing, advanced math and physics. An engineering technology program will usually include courses in college math and physics, metal and plastics technology, safety and management.
People who earn a bachelor's degree with a concentration in mechanical design technology may be prepared for a variety of positions in industrial manufacturing, such as industrial designer, material handling manager, quality control manager and inventory control manager.
Master of Science in Engineering
A Master of Science (M.S.) degree in engineering or mechanical engineering with a concentration in mechanical design provides highly advanced professional preparation for an engineering career that emphasizes design. Students learn to apply advanced knowledge of physical sciences and engineering to sophisticated design and production problems.
A bachelor's degree from an engineering program is typically required, and students often need to have earned a minimum grade point average. Most programs also require a GRE. Admission is competitive so high scores are often expected. Some programs admit students with related degrees that aren't in engineering, such as industrial technology or physics. In such cases, the programs usually require that students take foundational classes in mechanical engineering before beginning the M.S. coursework.
Most programs may be completed in two years of full time study. Many allow working professionals to pursue the degree part time. While some schools require that students complete a thesis, others allow the thesis to be replaced by practical application of advanced engineering skills. Typical coursework may cover:
- Mechanical engineering methods
- Engineering analysis
- Advanced mechanical design
- Financial management
- Advanced materials mechanics
- Advanced thermodynamics
- Fluid dynamics
- Engineering optimization
- Advanced modeling
- Manufacture and assembly design
- Control methods
- Harshness, vibration and noise
People who earn a bachelor's degree in engineering or mechanical engineering with a concentration in mechanical design may be qualified to work as mechanical engineers. According to the BLS, the median annual wage for mechanical engineers in May 2012 was $80,580 (www.bls.gov).
The BLS further predicted that employment of mechanical engineers will increase by 9% from 2010 through 2020. While this is slower growth than average, mechanical engineers may work in several industries like architecture, machinery manufacturing and alternative energy.
The M.S. is the highest mechanical design degree intended to enhance a career as a working engineer. Those who aspire to conduct advanced research in the field or to become professors may continue their education and earn a Doctor of Philosophy in engineering.
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