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Definition of mechanical engineering

Guidance for applicants, interviewers and assessors.

Here at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (the Institution), we welcome engineers from a very comprehensive base of experience and disciplines.

Mechanical engineering is the broadest engineering discipline and while there are many engineers who work in a purely mechanical environment there is also a broad spectrum of engineers who work in multi-disciplinary environments where mechanical engineering is an integral, but not necessarily primary, part of their work. This also holds true for those who may have progressed to a role which is predominantly managerial or outside direct, hands-on engineering.

With some 18 industry groupings, we are able to provide a wealth of information and events to members across the widest range of mechanical engineering topics. 

To help potential members and volunteers understand the breadth and depth of mechanical engineering disciplines which are represented in membership of the Institution, the following definition has been created by our experienced assessors:

Mechanical engineering is a diverse discipline that encompasses the teaching, practice and leadership of others in the development and application of scientific principles to mechanical systems. Mechanical engineering covers the ability to solve problems that deliver and optimise safe, sustainable and ethical solutions for the design, production and operation of devices, machines, structures, processes and systems involving mechanical elements. Mechanical Engineering frequently overlaps and/or combines with other engineering technologies to create multi-disciplinary projects/solutions.

Consequently, our membership is open to all engineers who can demonstrate an adequate mechanical engineering involvement and personal contribution in at least one of each of the following areas:
Scientific principles
Problem solving and optimisation
Mechanical elements
















When applying to the Institution, all applicants wishing to gain membership and registration status are appraised against our membership requirements, as well as against the UK Standard for Professional Engineering Competence (UK-SPEC), the industry wide framework for professional registration.

UK-SPEC is made up of five high-level competence requirements (A – E). All applicants must demonstrate an adequate level of specialist mechanical engineering (Competence A) and the appropriate application of methodologies to solve mechanical engineering problems (Competence B). This demonstration must concentrate on the quality of the work undertaken and not necessarily the amount of time spent on mechanical engineering activities.

Demonstration of leadership (Competence C) and interpersonal skills (Competence D) must be clear, but need not necessarily be in a mechanical engineering environment.

Similarly, demonstration of personal commitment (Competence E) need not be specific to mechanical engineering, except that the applicant must be aware of our Code of Conduct and any appropriate safe systems of work associated with the mechanical engineering activities in which they are engaged.

Become a member

Need some help?

Contact the membership team if you have any questions about joining us.