Posted on November 8, 2021
Mechanical engineers and consulting engineers have some overlap between their job descriptions, education, and responsibilities. But there are distinct differences between mechanical engineers and consulting engineers. If you are considering a career in engineering, you have many careers and industries to choose from.
Engineers are a lot like doctors in that, like doctors, engineers are highly trained, skilled, and usually specialize in a specific field. Just as a doctor can choose to work in family medicine, pediatrics, oncology, or hundreds of other realms and job responsibilities, an engineer can choose to work in mechanical engineering, civil engineering, structural engineering, or dozens of different specialties.
About consulting engineers
A consulting engineer is an expert in building construction. A consulting engineer can help with the planning, design, development, and maintenance of building projects. This includes working in:
- Structural analysis
- Lighting and energy usage
- Electrical system safety
- Renewable sources like solar energy and geothermal heating
- Building information modeling (BIM)
- Drawings and construction documents
- Building rehabilitation, restoration, or renovation
- Mechanical, engineering, and plumbing (MEP) support
A consulting engineer in our industry can be civil, structural, or environmental. And any engineering firm that provides expertise and has licensed engineers is in the business of consulting engineering.
Consulting engineering companies like R.E. Dimond and Associates work with architects, builders, building owners, and contractors. Sometimes those talented professionals run into technical challenges or detailed specifications outside their usual expertise and call a consulting engineering team like us.
For example, a historic building that needs a new lobby, plumbing, wiring, networking, and mechanical systems. In this kind of project:
- An architect can draft plans for what the space should look like and include.
- A contractor can interpret those plans and build it.
- But a consulting engineer can help both teams understand how to preserve the building’s historic character.
There are other benefits of working with a consulting engineer. Consulting engineering can examine processes, plans, estimate future maintenance needs, and analyze structural specifications like how big a boiler or chiller needs to comfortably and efficiently heat or cool a building.
For our part, R.E. Dimond is focused primarily on public and private buildings. Our team is unlikely to build tunnels or bridges, despite those being crucial civil engineering projects.
Instead, we work as a consultant alongside our architecture and contractor partners with clients like schools, theaters, museums, churches, apartment buildings, senior living facilities, and more.
Some recent examples of projects our team is responsible for or has been involved in include:
- Connecting new “Internet of Building” technology tools at Brownsburg High School. You can read more about this project and how it helps students master their coursework and improves safety.
- The historic restoration of The Eagles Theatre in Wabash. Read more about how this project developed new electrical systems, theater spaces, and overcame unique building challenges.
- Installing solar voltaic systems and renewable energy to power public and private structures, such as the Liberty Fund HQ, and others across Indiana and the Midwest.
About mechanical engineers and mechanical engineering
A mechanical engineer is not necessarily a consulting engineer or a mechanical engineering consultant. For one, mechanical engineers don’t have to be licensed. And two, they may not be in the AEC industry—which includes architects, engineering, and construction.
Like consulting engineers, mechanical engineers work in many different ways. As a mechanical engineer you could:
- Prepare and conduct tests on heaters, engines, electronics, or any number of human-designed tools.
- Estimate costs and labor estimates for a project.
- Evaluate design plans or sketches.
- Be involved in the generation, distribution, and use of energy.
- Control manufacturing systems like conveyors or assembly line machines.
Education and training for mechanical engineers vs. civil and consulting engineers
While there is a lot of overlap and differences between mechanical engineers, structural engineers, civil engineers, and consulting engineers, one thing is certain: all of them are highly educated and trained.
For a successful career, you will need a bachelor’s degree, strong technical skills, computer skills, and probably a master’s degree if you choose to specialize further. You should have good communication skills, always be interested in problem-solving and developing new knowledge, and always work to benefit your community.
If you are interested in an internship with R.E. Dimond and Associates at our Indianapolis office, submit your resume for consideration. Job shadow opportunities are also available.