Job outlook: slow but steady

Where are all the gearheads? In 2000, more than half of the 221,000 mechanical engineering jobs in the U.S. were in manufacturing, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Job Outlook. Overall, manufacturing employment is expected to grow slowly, but mechanical engineers employed in manufacturing should increase more rapidly as demand rises for improved machine tools and processes become more complex.

Employment of mechanical engineers on the whole is projected to grow about as fast as average for all occupations through 2010, the report says.

Also, new job growth for mechanical engineers is expected in emerging technologies such as information technology, biotechnology, and nanotechnology.

Motors matter, but so do gears

The electric motor consumes more than 60% of the total industry energy demand, but it’s not enough to stop there when addressing energy efficiency. It’s not always obvious, but gearing is a primary element in determining total system efficiency.

With energy shortages threatening the whole U.S., it’s more important than ever to consider operating efficiency when selecting a gear system and to strike a balance between initial purchase price, operating costs, maintenance costs, and mounting space requirements.

The three basic types of gearing most commonly found in industrial gear drives are helical, bevel, and worm gearing. When analyzing operating efficiency, look to the mesh. Helicals usually rate highly efficient because meshing helical gears roll against each other with minimal friction. Bevel gear drives, with their right angle shaft configurations, are also highly efficient because meshing bevel gears also have a rolling action. Worm gear drives also have right angle shaft configurations. However, they are not as efficient because the worm gear mesh is primarily a sliding action involving high friction.

Hybrid combinations can help meet various application needs, such as shaft orientations or high reduction ratios and operating efficiency.

Source: Rockwell Automation, Greenville, S.C.

Protect your noggin

Are your gears always turning? Learn how to protect and manage your creative ideas in the present Internetbased, global business place with Intellectual Property: A Guide for Engineers. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ book gives practical information on patents, copyrights, trademarks, international protection of intellectual property. The guide also covers issues such as copyright transfers, federal trademark registration, trade secrets, and Internet domain names. The book, published by the ASME Press in collaboration with the American Bar Association Section on Intellectual Property Law, is available for purchase at www.asme.org under “publications catalog.”

Size up your salary

With the recent economic downtrend, it’s important that you refer to current salary information when gauging your own worth. The National Society of Professional Engineers provides that information in “The NSPE 2001 Income & Salary Survey.”

Compensation and income can be correlated with length of experience, highest degree earned, level of professional responsibility, major branch of engineering, job function, industry or service sector of employer, license status, supervisory/managerial responsibility, geography, and gender. The report also includes analysis of the effect of corporate downsizing on base salaries.

Survey data is available on disc so three or more variables can be analyzed simultaneously. The cost is $100.00 for NSPE members and $250.00 for non-members.