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How to Become A Mechanical Engineer

Mechanical engineering centres on creating technologies to meet human needs. Look around at the tech, products and services which surround your life - probably most of it has been developed by mechanical engineers to help improve mankind.

If you love to analyse and problem-solve, then you may be considering a career as a mechanical engineer. But how do you begin? What university should you go to? And what grades do you need? Read our helpful guide below for answers to those all-important questions.

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What is a mechanical engineering course?

Mechanical engineering, or MechEng as it is often known, is one of the oldest branches of engineering. From the tiniest of technologies to automobiles and buildings, mechanical engineering revolves the design and development of most things in the world. Mechanical engineering courses look at the design, analysis, manufacturing and maintenance of such items and their production techniques.

Are mechanical engineers in demand?


In a previous article, we have discussed the importance of engineers and the concerning shortage which the UK could face in the future. 

With a growing population, there is always demand for advancements in technology, architecture and for ways to improve the human experience. As mechanical engineers work on almost all types of machinery in the world, there will always be demand for them, with experts predicting a 9% increase in the number of available roles between 2016 to 2026.

What classes are required for mechanical engineering?

Like all other branches of engineering, mechanical engineering requires a good understanding of maths and science-related subjects. Any design and technology subjects, such as generalised engineering a-level is also highly sought after as it showcases your ability to design, plan and create a project.

For grading requirements, UCAS (the UK’s Universities and Colleges Admissions Service), recommends that for mechanical engineering courses, students would need one of the following subject requirements:

 ‘A levels – Entry requirements range from CCC to A*AA, with the universities and colleges most commonly asking for AAB.

Scottish Highers – Entry requirements for Highers (the most common qualification) range from ABBB to AAAAB, with universities or colleges most frequently requiring AABBB. Occasionally, universities ask for Advanced Highers to supplement Highers. If Advanced Highers are requested, universities or colleges typically ask for AA.

Vocational courses – Other Level 3/Level 6 qualifications (e.g. Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma, or an SCQF Level 6) may be accepted as an alternative to A levels/Highers by some providers. It’s essential that you check alternative entry requirements with universities or colleges.’

Please note: Entry requirements differ between universities and courses. Therefore you should check directly with your desired university for their required qualifications.

What are the subjects in mechanical engineering 1st year?

As with entry requirements, the modules and subjects that you will cover in the first year of a mechanical engineering course will differ from university to university. However, the first year of all university degrees is designed to get all students on the same level of understanding. Therefore, WhatUni.com suggests that students will cover the following topics:

‘Most first year courses will cover mathematics, statics and dynamics, materials, thermodynamics and fluid mechanics, design and manufacturing. There will also be laboratories to illuminate what is taught in lectures.’

Which course is best for mechanical engineering?

Aside from looking at university ranking tables when trying to assess which course is best for mechanical engineering, it is also very important for you to see which course is best for you.

The quality and style of teaching varies between different universities and it’s important to consider this when looking to apply. You want to ensure that the course you’re enrolling in suits your interests and learning style. You may be more academic and enjoy a traditional lecture-based style of teaching, or you could be a kinaesthetic learner and prefer practical learning, such as lab work or workshop practice. 

When you’re looking at universities, take a look at the module breakdown, how the teaching time is split, and be honest with yourself: will you enjoy learning about that particular topic in that way of learning.

Gain advanced insight into the subject of mechanical engineering

If you’re thinking of studying this at university, why not take a look at our mechanical engineering courses. Offering an authentic Oxford or Cambridge university experience, you’ll get to learn more about your subject in detail, as well as discover what it’s like to study the subject at university level.

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Mechanical engineering is in demand, requiring strong math and science skills. First-year subjects vary but include math, thermodynamics, and manufacturing. Choose a course that suits your learning style. Explore Oxford Summer Courses for in-depth insights.

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