Studying Mechanical Engineering in Germany
An article by Madlen Ottenschläger. Cooperation from: Christian Heinrich
That is what it's about
Whether it is about special vehicles in agriculture or respirators in hospitals: Machines today are designed to collect, evaluate, learn from or even exchange information with one another. "For mechanical engineers, the focus is always on a tangible product and its mechanics, unlike for computer scientists and electrical engineers," explains Moniko Greif, chairwoman of the mechanical engineering faculty and professor at RheinMain University of Applied Sciences.
Graduates of this subject design a product according to the customer's requirements, select materials for it and organise production. In this context, it plays an increasingly important role to proceed in a resource-conserving manner. Machine builders must comply with environmental regulations and consider how to prevent emissions. "In many areas, it will only be possible to achieve the German government's CO2 targets with cleverly designed machines," says Olaf Wünsch, Professor of Fluid Mechanics at the University of Kassel and Chairman of the Faculty Council for Mechanical and Process Engineering.
This is how the course runs
The first semesters focus on the basics, i.e. mathematics and physics, electrical engineering and computer science. Also part of the curriculum: Technical mechanics, which includes the calculation of forces, materials technology, production technology, construction and business administration. Later, project management is added. The students also deal with legal topics such as occupational health and safety.
Due to the Corona pandemic and the associated distance learning, the degree course has become more theoretical at times, but in principle, mechanical engineering attaches great importance to practical courses, says Moniko Greif. For example, students test the behaviour of different materials, such as steel, cast iron, ceramics or plastics.
Working on the computer takes up a lot of space in the degree. Students design three-dimensional machine parts using CAD (Computer-Aided Design). Later, they also learn to simulate and design entire machines on the computer.
In the higher semesters of the bachelor's degree, students can specialise, for example in energy technology, product development or production technology. Offers that combine two directions, such as medical technology or plastics process engineering, are becoming increasingly important.
Typical questions raised within the subject
- What forms of friction are there, and how do you determine them?
- What are methods of systematic design?
- How do you model components on the computer?
- What should you consider when choosing a manufacturing process so that manufacturing is technically feasible?
- What economic aspects should you consider in each case?
- How can you reduce energy consumption in manufacturing?
The subject suits you,...
... if you enjoy developing new products and enjoy working in a team. "If you are fundamentally interested in technology, can think logically, are creative and have a desire to solve problems, mechanical engineering is perfect for you," says professor Olaf Wünsch. In addition to technical understanding, abstract thinking is required, for example when calculating flow behaviour and flow velocity in pipelines. Good previous knowledge in mathematics and physics make starting off easier.
Dreaded subjects are thermodynamics and technical mechanics - the complex, theoretical calculations in these subjects give many students a hard time. It helps to work in study groups.
Is there a numerus clausus?
Around one fourth of the Mechanical Engineering courses have admission restrictions. Often the required average is somewhere around a three grade.