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 encompasses the teaching, practice, leadership, and application of engineering and scientific principles. It delivers and optimises safe, sustainable solutions for the design, construction, production, and operation of systems, devices, machines, structures, and processes. Mechanical Engineering is broad and diverse and frequently involves working in multi-disciplinary teams where mechanical engineering is integral, but not necessarily the primary discipline. Mechanical engineering requires practicing sustainability, integrity, ethics, diversity, and inclusion. It can include functional and management roles, which require an understanding of commercial implications and compliance with legal requirements. 

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.

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