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Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical Engineering written on cogs.

Mechanical engineering is an engineering discipline that combines engineering physics and mathematics principles with materials science to design, analyze, manufacture, and maintain mechanical systems. (  It is one of the most broadly applicable facets of engineering, and depending on the skills you build, it can give you a wide variety of career options.

Mechanical Engineers work with design, testing, materials, development of products and everything in between.  They often work with machines, engines, things that move, from individual components to the larger working mechanism. 

Mechanical engineering deals with

  • biotechnology
  • energy
  • product design
  • research and development
  • materials science
  • robotics 
  • systems management

Entry level positions are available in Mechanical Engineering with a bachelor’s degree.

Explore options

To explore some of the various industries within engineering, check out:

Check these titles out on O-Net for more information and career outlook.

Screenshot of O*Net Online:
  • Applications Engineer
  • CAD Technician
  • Control and Instrumentation Engineer
  • Engineer
  • Industrial Engineer
  • Product Manager
  • Research and Development (R&D)


For further exploration

Or read What Do I Do With A Degree in Engineering? from our blog–on thinking about the skills required and the different paths you can take within engineering.

Focus areas within Mechanical Engineering

  • Automotive
  • Aerospace
  • Computer Aided Design (CAD)
  • Defense
  • Energy
  • Industrial
  • Product Design
  • Manufacturing
  • Material Science
  • Systems Management

Professional Organizations

Professional associations are groups of professionals dedicated to topics in specific fields. Professional associations provide a wealth of online resources, some of which are geared specifically towards students. These organizations typically also host conferences and events, providing great opportunities for learning and networking across your field of interest.

Professional organizations are a great way to form connections within the industry, learn and keep up to date with emerging trends.  Below are just a few professional organizations you might want to consider as a Mechanical Engineer.

Employers who have posted jobs with Duke in the past three years
(not an exhaustive list)

  • 6 River Systems
  • BAE Systems
  • BuroHappold Engineering
  • Garmin International
  • EG Gilero
  • Exxon Mobil
  • Honda Aircraft
  • Mainstream Engineering Corporation
  • MPR Associates
  • National Institutes of Health
  • NC Department of Transportation
  • Northtrop Grumman
  • Southwest Research Institute
  • Siemens Healthineers
  • TE Connectivity
  • Thorlabs
  • Weston & Sampson

Student Organizations and Volunteer Opportunities

Check out DukeGroups and Pratt School of Engineering to find student organizations across campus such as:


Internships are a great way to try out an industry or company while learning more about a career of interest, developing your skillset, and building a network. Most Duke students who complete internships do so during the summer. The internship cycle for Mechanical Engineering is rolling, so it’s smart to keep an eye out throughout the year for positions which might be of interest to you.  See the Pratt School of Engineering’s internship website for suggestions and year-by-year recommendations.

Students in the past have done internships with:

  • BASF (India)
  • Boeing
  • Burt’s Bees
  • Exxon Mobil
  • GE Appliances
  • General Motors
  • KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Sweden)
  • Lockheed Martin
  • NASA
  • Procter & Gamble
  • Siemens (US & China)
  • Space X
  • TE Connectivity (India)
  • Walt Disney Imagineering
  • ZF Group (China)


Conducting research can be a great way to get involved on campus, explore a specific academic topic, and work closely with faculty members and graduate students. The Undergraduate Research Support Office offers resources for getting involved in research both on campus and at other institutions- check out the “opportunities” page to explore options.

Research positions are often secured through identifying research currently occurring at Duke or elsewhere and reaching out to faculty members directly. Consider looking at the work of faculty members, especially in the Pratt College of Engineering. Check out this link to Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science Centers and Labs to find opportunities to get research positions.


Check out the list of skills you should develop, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • Creativity. Mechanical engineers design and build complex pieces of equipment and machinery. A creative mind is essential for this kind of work.
  • Listening skills. Mechanical engineers often work on projects with others, such as architects and computer scientists. They must listen to and analyze different approaches made by other experts to complete the task at hand.
  • Math skills. Mechanical engineers use the principles of calculus, statistics, and other advanced subjects in math for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.
  • Mechanical skills. Mechanical skills allow engineers to apply basic engineering concepts and mechanical processes to the design of new devices and systems.
  • Problem-solving skills. Mechanical engineers need good problem-solving skills to take scientific principles and discoveries and use them to design and build useful products.

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