Written By: Anna Lucas
Mechanical Engineering is a passion of many aspiring STEM experts. However, as I'm sure we all know, getting experience, or even just the chance to participate in anything remotely related to engineering before college, can be a huge challenge. Whether the reason is lack of confidence, liabilities, or something else entirely, there seems to be little to no room for high schoolers in the engineering field. However, this does not mean that us teenagers have to remain on the bench until we turn eighteen. Thanks to the Internet, a miracle sent from the heavens truly, high schoolers and teenagers now have the ability to at least dip their toes into the pool of STEM higher education with online courses. In this article, I will detail the five best mechanical engineering courses you can take for free, as a high schooler. And, for the sake of transparency, although all the courses I list today are available on the site Coursera.org, lukupp is in no way affiliated nor sponsored by their amazing company.
1. Introduction to Engineering Mechanics offered by the Georgia Institute of Technology
This introduction to mechanics source on Coursera is an amazing class for those interested in mechanical engineering, as it teaches the principles required to solve engineering mechanics problems. This course takes previous knowledge of basic math and physics, and addresses the modeling and analysis of static equilibrium problems with an emphasis on real world engineering applications and problem solving. It teaches the basics of mechanics and mechanical engineering principles, and is definitely worth the time it takes to complete the course.
2. AutoDesk CAD/CAM/CAE for Mechanical Engineering offered by AutoDesk
Throughout this course by AutoDesk, they teach the foundations of applying computer aided design (CAD), computer aided engineering (CAE), and manufacturing principles. They then use this acquired knowledge to help develop technical skills within Autodesk Fusion 360. This course is very helpful as AutoCAD is a program used by engineers in nearly every field. It is also a very technical and potentially confusing program, so it’s wise to get started learning to use it early, and have a head start compared to all your peers when they begin to teach it in school.
3. Introduction to Thermodynamics: Transferring Heat from Here to There offered by the University of Michigan
This course on thermodynamics provides an introduction to the most powerful engineering principle, the science of transferring energy from one place or form to another place or form. This course introduces students to the tools needed to analyze energy systems like solar panels, engines, and even insulated coffee mugs. However, more specifically, the course covers mass and energy conservation principles, first law analysis of control mass and control volume systems, properties and behavior of pure substances, and applications to thermodynamic systems operating at steady state conditions. This course is a great course to take because it teaches the basics of thermodynamics, which is the basis of all engineering.
4. Mechanics: Motion, Forces, Energy, and Gravity from Particles to Planets offered by the University of New South Wales - Sydney
This course is a great course to take to increase your knowledge of engineering because it teaches mechanics not only as it has to do with engineering, but also as it has to do with the universe, giving us students a very broad understanding of mechanics in both an engineering and quantum standpoint. The course uses video tutorials to present film clips of key experiments, animations and worked example problems. They also offer a wide range of interesting practice problems and at-home experiments using simple, everyday materials.
5. Modern Robotics: Mechanics, Planning, and Control offered by Northwestern University
This course is a great course to take because it teaches the basis of robotics. As robotics is becoming more and more integrated into the field of mechanical engineering, developing a base knowledge and comfort when it comes to robotics could be very helpful. It also opens up the scope of projects that students are capable of completing. In this course, students learn to apply basic engineering tools to analysis, planning, and control of robot motion, solidifying your mathematical knowledge along the way. This course also gives students the opportunity to take advantage of Northwestern’s robot-simulation program to test out your robots.