As a mechanical engineering student, you may be curious about the most promising fields of work.
One of the newest industries offering significant potential for the foreseeable future is renewable energy.
This guide will teach you everything you need to know about mechanical engineers working in this field.
We’ll help you determine if it is the right career path.
Mechanical engineers can work in renewable energy, easily finding positions in the innovation, development, and implementation stages.
Likewise, mechanical engineers can work in every alternative energy sector, including wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, or other cleaner power sources.
Additionally, many organizations and companies will be working to transform machines and devices to run on these types of energy.
Apart from job opportunities, mechanical engineers can also experience a high degree of work engagement and job satisfaction in renewable energy.
If they are keen on environmental issues, knowing they have the power to create real change in the way people view and use sustainable energy can be invigorating.
Since renewable energy is a fairly recent and evolving industry, it’s not yet a part of the mechanical engineering field.
A few universities have already launched programs dedicated to combining mechanical engineering, renewables, or renewable energy.
For this reason, it is easy to foresee it will soon be a popular specialization within mechanical engineering.
Mechanical engineers have a valuable role in solar energy.
They research, design, develop and optimize every piece within a solar energy system.
Engineers can work on solar panels, inverters, racks, mounts, and solar tracking equipment.
They also work on developing solar panels and solar panel systems that can extract energy from overcast conditions, store solar energy, resist harsh weather conditions and extreme temperatures, and other innovations.
Mechanical engineers can work in power plants, but their specific responsibilities and duties depend on their role and the type of power plant.
Since power plants process and generate electricity from a primary energy source, many of their operations depend on reliable machines.
Mechanical engineers design effective machines, oversee their development, test and optimize the devices, and monitor, repair, and maintain the appliances.
They may also work in research in development, where they will design innovative machines for efficient energy production and distribution.
In higher-up positions, they can manage or oversee engineers or whole department teams.
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Mechanical engineers help hydropower or hydroelectric power plants find efficient ways of extracting electricity from strong water currents.
They may research, design, and develop essential machines and hardware, such as turbines, generators, and hydro-pressure and control mechanisms.
Additionally, they may promote innovative infrastructure for better ways of pushing water, collecting energy, or converting that energy to electricity.
Mechanical engineers can also work as consultants in hydropower, ensuring plants follow environmental guidelines, perform at high levels of safety, and adhere to state and governmental laws.
There are many advantages to working on renewable energy as a mechanical engineer, including:
- Jobs: The renewable energy industry is growing rapidly. Before 2026, global clean energy will increase by 60%. Mechanical engineers will see numerous job opportunities and experience job stability and ample room for career advancement.
- Salary: Mechanical engineers have a high, average salary of $95,300 per year. They may see higher figures in specific renewable energy sectors.
- Forefront: Mechanical engineers have a unique opportunity to be at the forefront of a young industry. They have a chance to spearhead significant energy changes globally over the next few decades.
- Environmental Impact: Engineers can take pride in their work, knowing they are positively impacting the world and other people.
Some mechanical engineers may not enjoy working in alternative energy. A few main reasons may include:
- Need to be Creative: Mechanical engineers may find their work fairly predictable in some industries. Even if they work in design, they may only change a few factors of already-conceived machines or devices. Since renewable energy is very young, you may have to start from scratch on many projects.
- Need to be Adaptable: Adaptability may come naturally to some engineers, but a lack of structure may be frustrating to others. Companies moving towards renewable energy may not have their work environments completely structured or organized, as the territory is not as concrete. However, you can easily avoid this environment by looking for a job in an established renewable energy company.
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Renewable energy is power or electricity derived from sustainable, continuous fuel sources such as the sun or the wind.
Mechanical engineering studies, designs, and develops systems in motion.
Renewable energy in mechanical engineering describes the study, design, and development of machines that can derive power from sustainable fuel sources.
Although this discipline is not yet well-developed in the academic world, it would effectively combine environmental science with mechanical engineering.
To become a renewable energy engineer, you can follow these steps:
- Earn a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in an engineering field, such as mechanical engineering. Take extra-curricular classes in environmental science or renewable energy. You may also be able to obtain a dual degree during your bachelor’s.
- Pursue a master’s degree to have a higher chance of obtaining the job of your dreams and a higher-paying salary. Alternatively, you could acquire a bachelor’s degree in engineering and a master’s degree in renewable energy.
- Follow an internship or obtain an entry-level position in an alternative energy organization or company while attending school.
- Receive any required licenses for your domain of engineering. For instance, you may need a state liscence, the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) liscence, and the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam liscence.
Many types of engineers can work in renewable energy.
The most in-demand engineers are electrical, mechanical, chemical, and industrial engineers.
Their expertise and skills are immediately transferable to the alternative energy industry.
They may only need to take a few classes or courses in environmental science or renewable energy.
It is an admirable goal to become work as a mechanical engineer in renewable energy.
You’ll find excellent jobs and enjoy an exciting and evolving field.
Likewise, you will work on projects that change the future of energy and fuel forever.
Before you leave, don’t miss our guide on career opportunities for mechanical engineers in prosthetics.