Is Coding Necessary for Mechanical Engineering?

Is coding necessary for mechanical engineering?

What is coding? 

Coding is defined as a set of instructions that tell a computer how to perform a task. These instructions come in different languages, which are understood by a computer. These languages are called programming languages. These days’ most popular programming languages include Python, Java, Ruby, JavaScript, C, C++, and C#. Programs are written in the source code of a programming language.

What is mechanical engineering?

Mechanical engineering is the study of mechanical systems. These systems are electrical generators, internal combustion engines, steam and gas turbines, refrigerators, air-conditioners, etc. The study of mechanical engineering involves the design, manufacture, analysis, and maintenance of such systems. Concepts of mathematics and physics are usually used to achieve this goal.

Does mechanical engineering require coding?

The vast majority of mechanical engineering does not require coding. Machine studies and design do not involve any coding or programming. Mechanical engineers are not programmers. To become an engineer, it is critical to learn about materials and processes rather than coding. The primary focus of mechanical engineers is design and analysis, which is achieved through studying concepts of mathematics and physics.

Many software’s being developed to ease the learning of these concepts, such as Mathcad, Computer-Aided Design (CAD), Finite Element Analysis (FEA), Fusion 360. Except for a few, none of these software applications require coding to operate.

Why do mechanical engineers show no interest in coding?  

The ability to code is not a prerequisite for becoming a mechanical engineer, as has already been mentioned. College and university curriculum for mechanical engineering lists only a single and basic programming course taught mainly in the first semester. The majority of students forget what they learned in this course by the time they graduate. Thus, they will also show no interest in learning programming in the future.

Jeff Bezos Career Advice
Jeff Bezos Career Advice

Some steps can be taken to increase students’ interest:

  1. Update the degree program and increase the number of programming courses in the degree program.
  2. Encourage students to develop projects using programming software during degree programs.
  3. Provide relevant resources which are required to study programming. Such as software installed in college computers. Teachers to assist in learning these software.  

For example, where is coding required for mechanical engineers?   

The digital world is expanding, and the need for programming is becoming more important as technology advances. Several new developments have included programmable machines, such as robotic systems and automation systems in recent years. The movement of these systems is controlled using programming. Therefore, programming is useful because you will encounter situations where you will have to work with machines that are programmed at some point in your career.

Which latest technologies require programming? 

There has been an increase in the Internet of things (IoT) in recent years. For example, manufacturing uses the Industrial internet of things (IIoT), which is its subcategory. This technology is more programming-driven. Nowadays, every new industry around the globe is investing in smart technology to make their systems more efficient and lower their power expenses. In such scenarios, mechanical engineers would definitely benefit from knowing how to code.  

What are current programming skills taught?

The mechanical engineer’s bachelor’s degree program has just one programming course taught in 1st semester. This course only covers C++ and C in different aspects. The practical use of these languages is limited. Mechanical engineers are also taught ladder logic.

This language is used in PLC programming, which is useful in driving industrial processes. Ladder logic is low-level language and is becoming outdated. Many industries are shifting towards automation and robotic technology, which operates on a higher programming language. Ladder logic is starting to take a less important role in the industries as they rely more on automation.

MATLAB is another popular software program that engineers of different disciplines use to analyze and solve complex problems. MATLAB is primarily used in colleges and universities for study purposes. Professionally, it is used to design and tune algorithms, model real-world systems, and automatically generate code. College only teaches basic concepts; the more advanced concepts are not taught in universities at the bachelor or diploma level. 

What are sources available to polish your programming skills?    

Many resources are available where mechanical engineers can easily learn programming according to their requirements. Programming expertise is not necessary for engineers like it is for computer scientists. Companies have taken advantage of this trend and are one step ahead. Industrial boards are now being developed specifically for engineers to assist them in understanding the IIoT. These boards are developed by several popular companies such as Bosch Rexroth, DIGI, Gramalto, Texas Instruments, and many more. They manufacture products like

  1. Arduino UNO
  2. Raspberry Pi
  3. Jetson TX2 Development Kit 2

These are a few examples of learning and developing skills to understand the latest automation and IoT technologies. More importantly, you can program using the C++/C language you have already learned during your degree program. In addition, these companies have their own resources from where you can learn, and several YouTube tutorials are available to assist in learning about these devices.  

Conclusion

Mechanical engineers don’t need to be programmers. Most of the work done in industries and where mechanical engineers are employed doesn’t require you to be an expert programmer. Mechanical engineers handle all the mechanical details of the workplace, such as checking on faulty production lines, faulty machines, motors, etc. However, since most industries are shifting towards IIoT and automation, it is helpful to have some knowledge of how these technologies work in case you encounter any problems at your workplace.

 Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is it necessary to learn to program in mechanical engineering?
    No, it is not necessary to learn to program if you are interested in becoming an electrical engineer.

  2. What programming skills should a mechanical engineer have?
    You must have basic knowledge of C++/C which is a low-level language. Also, Python is helpful if you are working on a machine or software which requires using a high-level language.

  3. Where is programming required in mechanical engineering?
    Most of the programming is done on IIoT devices. These devices include Arduino, Raspberry Pi which are programmed to get desired output. MATLAB is also an important software used for data analysis, data visualization, and numerical computation.  
Is Coding Necessary for Mechanical Engineering?

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