A Day in the Life of a Mechanical Engineer: Balancing Technical and Soft Skills

Mechanical engineers face new challenges and opportunities every day. The role requires a delicate balance between technical expertize and soft skills, from designing innovative systems to troubleshooting complex issues.

I spend much of my day working on technical tasks and projects. Using mathematics, physics, and engineering principles, I devise solutions and design solutions to problems.

As part of this process, I may use computer-aided design (CAD) software to create 3D models, perform simulations, and perform calculations.

Recently, I was tasked with designing a new integrated cooling and heating system for a large industrial facility. Those two heating and cooling systems can communicate together. Heat can be moved from the cooling system and transferred to the hot water system.

This will decrease cooling loads and natural gas consumption on the hot system to enhance energy efficiency.

I also used my technical skills to analyse heat transfer mechanisms, assess fluid dynamics, and optimize the design. Mechanical engineers rely on these technical skills to do their jobs.

However, it is important to realise that technical prowess alone does not guarantee success in this field. Communication, collaboration, and problem-solving skills are equally important. Communication is essential to convey complex ideas and concepts to colleagues, clients, and other stakeholders daily.

My regular participation in project meetings enables me to present my findings, discuss design considerations, and provide updates on the project’s progress. Strong communication skills ensure everyone’s on the same page and the project goes smoothly.

Mechanical engineers often work in interdisciplinary teams, including electrical engineers, software developers, and project managers. Collaboration involves listening actively, respecting diverse perspectives, and contributing effectively to team discussions.

My work in the canning industry means I am frequently involved in developing automated production lines.

To integrate control systems, design the human-machine interface, and to ensure all deliverables were met, I collaborated closely with electrical engineers, software developers, and project managers. Through effective collaboration, we were able to streamline the production process and improve overall efficiency.

Another critical skill I use every day is problem-solving. Mechanical engineers face various challenges, from troubleshooting equipment malfunctions to optimising processes for greater efficiency. Identifying root causes, developing creative solutions, and implementing effective strategies rely on our problem-solving skills.

I recently faced a challenge where a manufacturing process was producing defective parts. I analysed the process flow, identified the bottlenecks, and proposed modifications to the system that ultimately resolved the issue.

Problem-solving skills allow me to overcome obstacles and deliver innovative solutions to complex problems. And it also is one of the areas of my job I am most passionate about.

Time management is another essential aspect of a mechanical engineer’s daily routine. I must juggle multiple tasks, projects, and deadlines, requiring effective planning and organisation.

Time management skills ensure I prioritise tasks, allocate resources appropriately, and meet project milestones. When I create detailed schedules and project plans, I have to break down complex projects into smaller, manageable tasks. This allows me to stay on track, meet deadlines, and ensure efficient project execution.

The engineering field constantly evolves, and staying abreast of the latest technologies, trends, and regulations is essential. This requires a proactive approach to learning and a commitment to lifelong learning. I make sure I am constantly evolving and learning.

I also host mentoring sessions with other engineers so we can learn from each other.

Mechanical engineers can drive progress in various industries by effectively combining technical and soft skills to deliver innovative solutions and collaborate with diverse teams.

It is incredibly important that I can make a tangible impact as a mechanical engineer using both technical and soft skills.”

Youssef Aoun

Youssef Aoun was inspired to pursue a career in mechanical engineering through his passion for maths and physics.

He studied at Notre Dame University in Lebanon and is now a leading engineer with Roeslein & Associates, the global leader in engineering, modular fabrication, and construction of can making and industrial plant facilities.

The American Society of Mechanical Engineering has published his work and he and his team won Second Place in ASME’s “Energy Relay” in 2012.

Among his responsibilities is peer-reviewing scholarly publications in mechanical engineering for the EDAS review committee.

His works include a review of  the “Mitigation of UHI Effect with the Incorporation of PCM in Concrete Pavement-Case Study: City of Rotterdam.”

The study focused on heat transfer in civil works projects and was presented at the 2023 Fifth International Conference on Advances in Computational Tools for Engineering Applications (ACTEA).