What can a mechanical engineer do for a tech company?

career advice careers College mechanical engineering tech industry
By Sammy

The tech industry is seen as an attractive field. The good pay, flexible working hours, and stable job market all make landing a career in the tech job market tempting. But what if you have no background in computer science? What if your strongest skills lie in thermodynamics, heat transfer, mechanics of materials, and fluid mechanics?

In this blog, we will go over what a mechanical engineer can do in the tech industry. 

Many of the tech giants such as Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Meta have large teams that perform hardware design, in which mechanical engineers play a key role. For instance, mechanical engineers are responsible for ensuring the thermal reliability of integrated circuits. This includes simulation, analysis, and design of cooling schemes to dissipate heat, which requires expertise in thermodynamics and heat transfer. Such roles may also involve experimental work, such as the design of thermal tests to assess the efficacy of cooling solutions. The product design of electrical components is no different than traditional product design in that mechanical engineers are also responsible for creating design prototypes using CAD. Testing these prototypes involves applying knowledge in the mechanics of solids and fluids, where finite element and multi-physics simulations are commonly used to assess product reliability and optimize performance. Whether you are working on the reliability of an iPhone or a single computer chip, the equations governing mechanical behavior are the same, making the knowledge you learned in your mechanics of solids courses versatile. Outside product design, mechanical engineers are also employed in manufacturing and quality control of products.   

For the past three years, I have been involved in the quality control of semiconductor devices. I perform stress and fracture analysis to ensure the devices have controlled warpages and are safe to use in products. Remarkably, doing well at the job requires no knowledge of a semiconductor device. The principles you learn in your mechanical engineering courses are general and can be applied to many systems. Don’t be afraid to look for jobs outside traditional mechanical engineering roles. 

Sammy is a 5th year PhD student at Harvard, where he is working on semiconductor reliability. He is passionate about education. He has helped teach multiple courses at Harvard and has mentored many high school students on research projects.

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