Which mechanical engineering field is best for you?
Let me begin this by saying that mechanical engineering is one of the most complex engineering specializations when it comes to understanding its ramifications and the vast career paths it can lead to.
There is no way to cover all the sub-specializations of mechanical engineering in one post. Therefore, what will be covered here are several mechanical engineering jobs that are not conventional, yet can potentially secure extremely successful careers, and are mainly related to the construction sector:
1 – HVAC Engineer
HVAC is short for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning. By today’s standards, HVAC became a necessity for every new building. An HVAC Engineer’s job can be in the design of cooling, ventilation or heating systems, or in their installation and maintenance.
The most popular certificate an HVAC engineer can attain is the Certified HVAC Designer (CHD) certificate which is provided by ASHRAE. Another certificate that can boost an HVAC Engineer’s career is the LEED AP certificate; being AP certified gives you a substantial edge when you are competing for a job opportunity on a project that focuses on energy efficiency and reduced environmental impact.
2 – Plumbing and Water Supply Engineer
A plumbing engineer’s work revolves around the design, planning, and installation of the project’s water systems and infrastructure. Some of these systems exist in every construction project, like water supply (hot and cold water) and drainage, whereas others are found in higher-standard buildings, such as fire protection, gas supply, and pollution reduction systems.
If you are in the US, being CPD (Certified in Plumbing Design) certified will undoubtedly give you a push in your career. The CPD is developed by ASPE (American Society for Plumbing Engineers) and has a pre-requisite certification which is the CPDT (Certified Plumbing Design Technician).
3 – Building Management Systems Engineer
A BMS is a software-based system that monitors and controls different elements of a building (HVAC, Power, Lighting, Fire detection and protection, …) under one centralized system. While the design and implantation of a Building Management System is not solely under the responsibility of the Mechanical Engineer, they usually take the lead on it, since the HVAC infrastructure constitutes the largest part of a BMS system.
Certifications in BMS Design and Installation are usually provided by international vendors of BMS systems such as Johnson Controls, Honeywell, and Schneider Electric, just to name a few.
4 – District Cooling/Heating Engineer
To explain the concept of District Cooling/Heating in a simplified way, imagine you have a construction project consisting of several buildings and complexes including residential, commercial and service structures. Instead of designing and installing independent systems for each of these buildings, engineers came up with a solution, which is to provide a central cooling/heating infrastructure for the entire project, which eventually distributes its output to each building through a distribution infrastructure. The result is a highly energy efficient system that saves up to 40% in energy consumption, when compared to independent, scattered cooling/heating systems.
While District Cooling/Heating is more common in high temperature/low temperature regions of the globe, they are very sophisticated systems that require deep technical knowledge and extensive experience to master. For that reason, District Cooling/Heating design engineers are well paid and sought after.
Other than technical knowledge and experience, a District Cooling/Heating engineer can provision himself with a LEED certificate, since the main purpose of these systems is the solidification of sustainability and energy efficiency.
While not all the fields of Construction Mechanical Engineering were covered in this post, I can positively say that these are the most sought-after specializations that can secure an amazing career for a person who is willing to learn and grow for the entirety of his professional life.