What is Mechanical Engineering and what are its branches including CAE, HVAC, Mechatronics, and Automotive Engineering

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As the name itself suggests, mechanical engineering mainly relates to machines and mechanics in the broadest sense of the term. Since machines are involved in literally all aspects of human life right from very basic domestic machines to complicated automated machines in big industries, it is not surprising that there are several arms of mechanical engineering which deal with different perspectives of the same as listed below.

Power Plant Engineering

Every process requires power and energy and this is generated in power plants which could be different in their modes of production such as thermal, nuclear, hydro etc. This branch of mechanical engineering mainly utilizes the principles of thermodynamics and uses equipment like alternators, boilers etc.

Marine Engineering

This branch of mechanical engineering relates to the operation and maintenance of propulsion and other machines on board ships. The machinery on a ship ranges from main propulsion plant, auxiliary generators, boilers, purifiers, pumps and so forth.

Aerospace Engineering

Like the previous branch which deals with floating vessels, this branch deals with flying machines. In fact this has been further subdivided into two main parts – aeronautical and astronautical engineering which deal with aeroplanes and spacecrafts respectively.

Automotive Engineering

This specialised branch of mechanical engineering deals with vehicles that ply on roads rather than sea or air. Again it could involved several sub-parameters which in turn require specialized skills of their own such as safety engineer, design engineer and so on, who take care of different aspects of automotive engineering during its design, manufacturing or maintenance.

HVAC Engineering

Climate and weather are natural phenomenon, but we can still control the elements at least within a finite space and that is all what HVAC engineering is all about. It stands for Heating, Ventilation & Air-Conditioning engineering and includes principles of thermodynamics, fluid transfer etc.

Computer Aided Engineering

Known more popularly as CAE and used in combination with CAD (Computer Aided Design) and CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing), it is mainly refers to the use of computers and relevant software for carrying out design, analysis, simulation of various machines and procedures. It is used in various disciplines such as automobile design, naval architecture etc. to name a few.


Mechatronics is a recent addition to the mechanical engineering branch and refers to a combination of mechanical, computer and electronics engineering. Hence it can said to be a hybrid branch which cover several fields at the same time.

It must also be noted at this stage that although several branches have been listed above, they are not stand alone disciplines in their own right. Technology has become so interwoven and complicated today that most of these branches are a mixture of not only other branches of mechanical engineering but also other disciplines of engineering as well, such as electronics and computers.