Mechanical engineering

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Theatrum Machinarum Generale, 1724

Mechanical engineering is a discipline of engineering that applies the principles of physics and materials science for analysis, design, manufacturing, and maintenance of mechanical systems. It is the branch of engineering that involves the production and usage of heat and mechanical power for the design, production, and operation of machines and tools.


Quotes are arranged in chronological order

18th century[edit]

  • Explaining and Demonstrating the General Laws of Motion, the Laws of Gravity, Motion of Descending Bodies, Projectiles, Mechanic Powers, Pendulums, Centers of Gravity, &c. Strength and Stress of Timber, Hydrostatics, and Construction of Machines. A Work Very Necessary to be Known, by All Gentlemen and Others, that Desire to Have an Insight Into the Works of Nature and Art. And Extremely Useful to All Sorts of Artificers; Particularly to Architects, Engineers, Shipwrights, Millwrights, Watchmakers, &c, Or Any that Work in a Mechanical Way.
To the art of mechanics is owing all sorts of instruments to work with, all engines of war, ships, bridges, mills, curious roofs and arches, stately theatres, columns, pendent galleries, and all other grand works in building.
- William Emerson, 1754
  • To the art of mechanics is owing all sorts of instruments to work with, all engines of war, ships, bridges, mills, curious roofs and arches, stately theatres, columns, pendent galleries, and all other grand works in building. Also clocks, watches, jacks, chariots, carts and carriages, and even the wheel-barrow. Architecture, navigation, husbandry, and military affairs, owe their invention and use to this art.
    • William Emerson (1754/73) The Principles of Mechanics. Preface; Cited in: R.S. Woolhouse (1988) Metaphysics and Philosophy of Science in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries: Essays in Honour of Gerd Buchdahl. p. 29
  • THEORY and practice principally distinguish science from arts, and accordingly most branches of knowledge pass under one or the other of these denominations; tho we must allow, that our ideas in this respect are not always sufficiently precise; for we are often at a loss in naming the branches of knowledge where speculation is joined with practice. There are rules for the operations of the mind, and others for those of the body; the latter being confined to external subjects, require no more than the assistance of the hand to perform them. Hence proceeds the distinction between the liberal and mechanic arts, and the preference given to the former, tho very unjustly in many respects. The mechanic arts depending upon manual operation, and confined to a certain beaten track, are assigned over to those whom prejudice places in a lower class: and necessity rather than taste and genius, compelling them to the exercise of these arts, the arts themselves in time became subject to contempt; whilst the free operations of the mind were claimed by others, who, because they were more exempt from indigence, possibly thought themselves more favoured by nature. But this assumed superiority of the liberal over the mechanic arts, from the former's employing only the attention of the mind, and from the difficulty of excelling therein, is sufficiently counter-balanced by the greater utility commonly arising from the latter.
  • The work before us is a proof that the doctrine of mechanics is of the utmost importance to mankind in general, and to civil society in particular, which could hardly subsist without it.
    The author of this work is Mr. W. Emerson who is well known in the literary world, from several ingenious writings with which he has obliged the public; some of which have passed under our consideration since the commencement of the Review. In this treatise Mr. Emerson has laid down the fundamental principles both of theory and practice, and demonstrated most of them from the common elementary geometry, and the rest from the common rules of algebra; which is certainly the best method of rendering a treatise of this kind useful to the generality of readers, the fluxionary calculus being too difficult for them to understand.
    The work is divided into thirteen sections: the 1st. contains the general laws of motion. 2. The laws of gravity, the descent of heavy bodies, and the motion of projectiles. 3. The properties of the mechanical powers; the balance, the leaver, the wheel, the pulley, the screw, and the wedge. 4. The descent of bodies upon inclined planes, and in curve surfaces; and the motion of pendulums. 5. The center of gravity, and its properties. 6. The centers of percussion, oscillation, and gyration. 7. The quantity and direction of the pressure of beams of timber, by their weight; and the forces necessary to sustain them. 8. The strength of beams of timber in all positions; and their stress by any weight acting upon them, or by any forces applied to them. 9. The properties of fluids, the principles of hydrostatics, hydraulics, and pneumatics, 10. The resistance of fluids, their forces and actions upon bodies; the motions of ships, and the positions of their fails. 11. Methods of communicating, directing, and regulating any motion in the practice of mechanics. 12. The powers and properties of compound engines; of forces acting within the machines; and concerning friction. 13. The description of compound machines or engines, and the methods of computing their powers or forces; with some account as the advantages or disadvantages of their construction.

19th century[edit]

  • The course of study includes the teaching of English, mathematics, mechanics, chemistry, physics, and drawing ; designing, weaving, and manufacturing ; dyeing, mechanical engineering; and metal working ; building construction and wood.
    • William Cudworth (1800) Condition of the Industrial Classes of Bradford and District. p. 24
  • This is a great drawback on the introduction of steam-vessels generally abroad; and until the profession of mechanical engineering is considered a fit pursuit for respectable young men, it must remain so.
    • MacGregor Laird (1837) Narrative of an expedition into the interior of Africa. Vol 1. p. 13
  • The number of our students of Engineering, especially of Civil and Mechanical Engineering, is becoming so great that we are somewhat embarrassed to make proper provision for them.
    • University of Michigan (1871) The President's Report to the Board of Regents for the Academic Year ...: Financial Statement for the Fiscal Year. p. 6
  • Announcement of the Stevens Institute of Technology ; A School of Mechanical Engineering, founded by Edwin A. Stevens, Esq. Hoboken, New Jersey. 1874.
    • William Crookes ed. (1875) The Chemical News. p. 149
  • Mechanical Engineering may be defined as being the application of mathematics to Science, with particular reference to the design and fabrication of all forms of machinery. Since engineering is the combined science and art of utilizing the forces and materials of nature, and since this utilization is accomplished in nearly all cases by machines, or by processes working through machines, it is evident that mechanical engineering is the basis of aU art and industry.
  • It has been suggested that because the able mechanical engineers who have taken up the subject of dynamo construction are mainly to be credited with the advances which have been made in electrical lightning, therefor electrical engineering per se is to be a thing of the past. For the further, those who would be electrical engineers must first be mechanical engineers, and then somehow obtain a smattering of electrical knowledge, and all will be will with them...
  • Mechanical differs from Civil Engineering in the fact that the former provides or makes what the latter uses. On this account, a knowledge of mechanical engineering is of invaluable service to the civil engineer, and it should be the rule to obtain this practically, whatever branch of engineering the student may ultimately follow.
    • Frederick Dye (1895) Popular engineering: : being interesting and instructive examples in civil, mechanical, electrical, chemical, mining, military and naval engineering graphically and plainly described...". p. 212
  • The young man fresh from a great public school, or the refinement of a well-kept English home, will find the practical work of mechanical engineering extremely irksome and distasteful at first. Mechanical engineering is distinctly dirty work.
    • The Electrical Journal (1897) Vol 39. p. 53
  • Mechanical Engineering may be defined as being the application of mathematics to Science, with particular reference to the design and fabrication of all forms of machinery. Since engineering is the combined science and art of utilizing the
    • United States. Congress. Senate (1898) Senate Documents, Otherwise Publ. as Public Documents and Executive Documents: 14th Congress, 1st Session-48th Congress, 2nd Session and Special Session. p. 245

20th century, first half[edit]

  • Mechanical Engineering is that branch of engineering which broadly speaking covers the fields of heat, power, design of machinery, industrial management, and manufacturing problems.
    • University of Michigan, ‎Charles Willcox (1927) General Register. p. 199
  • Mechanical engineering may be defined as "the science and art of utilizing by machines the forces and materials of nature."
    • William Augustus Mitchell (1928) Mechanical engineering: a text-book for a short course. p. 8
  • The two main purposes of mechanical engineering are: first, to design and make tools and equipment for turning out machinery required by all branches of engineering, industry, and commerce, and, second, to design and manufacture, by means of said tools and equipment.
    • Theodore Jesse Hoover, ‎John Charles Lounsbury Fish (1941) The Engineering Profession. p. 133
  • The analytical and factual approach to engineering problems is identical with that to business problems. There is no more fundamental training or mental discipline for business than engineering, particularly mechanical engineering.
    • Theodore Jesse Hoover, ‎John Charles Lounsbury Fish (1941) The Engineering Profession. p. 151
  • Learning to practice mechanical engineering is a lifetime assignment. New problems are continually demanding new analyses, new measurements, and new experiments for their solution.
    • Charles F. Shoop, ‎George Lewis Tuve (1949) Mechanical Engineering Practice: A Laboratory Reference Text. p. 1

20th century, second half[edit]

  • Mechanical engineering is that branch of the profession which deals with devices and equipment whose design, manufacture, and operation are essentially mechanical in nature.
  • The mechanical engineer is concerned with the generation and use of power, the design and development of a wide variety of products and machinery, and the operations and methods of manufacture. As such he engages in the design operation, and control of conventional and nuclear power plants. He designs and develops automobiles, engines, turbines, fluid machinery, production machinery, and equipment; heating, ventilating, air conditioning, refrigeration systems and equipment, appliances and other consumer goods.
    • University of Michigan Official Publication (1962), Vol 62. p. 62
  • Engineering is no longer just an industrial discipline or technology — it is also a concept of statesmanship and of humanitarianism and a challenge worthy of our best. Mechanical Engineering is a career which follows a never-setting sun.
    • : The Journal of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (1963) Vol 85. p. 93
  • Mechanical engineering may be defined as the manufacture, installation, and repair of all kinds of machinery (including machine tools), prime movers and boilers, and engines
    • N. K. Buxton, ‎Derek Howard Aldcroft (1979) British industry between the wars. p. 129
  • Mechanical engineering is scientific theory. But actual mechanical engineering is impossible without praxis. Even in mechanical technology, concrete reality, or the individual gestalt, always contains
    • Paul Tillich (1981) The System of the Sciences According to Objects and Methods. p. 106
  • The field of mechanical engineering is so broad that several specialized branches have grown from it.
    • Leroy S. Fletcher, ‎American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Policy Board, Education (1981) Proceedings of the ASME Conference on Mechanical Engineering. p. 148
  • Mechanical engineering is a major area of engineering. Mechanical engineering design, or mechanical design in short, refers to the design of devices, products, systems, or processes of a mechanical nature.
    • Hong-Sen Yan (1998) Creative Design of Mechanical Devices. p. 4

21th century[edit]

  • The field of mechanical engineering is frankly as old as human life itself. Fire, the wheel, the printing press, and many of the life- changing discoveries and inventions of the past few centuries are simply applications of mechanical engineering in order to solve everyday problems.
    • ‎Dr. Vook Ph.D and Charles River Editors (2011) Mechanical Engineering 101: The TextVook

See also[edit]

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