Thermal engineering is a branch within mechanical engineering that is being pursued widely at the postgraduate level. Let’s look at this specialist subject, understand what thermal engineers do for a living, where can you study to graduate in this subject and what scope it offers in India and abroad.
What is thermal engineering all about?
Thermal engineering concerns with the field of thermodynamics or the study of energy transfers. As a thermal engineering student, you will study heating and cooling processes; and the conversion of heat into various energies including mechanical, chemical and electrical energy. This is a discipline which finds many applications in our daily life. For example, it is used to control the heat and temperature rise in your computer by keeping the microprocessor in the CPU adequately cool.
Thermal engineers assist in designing heating systems and explore ways to improve on and take advantage of renewable energy sources. Common challenges thermal engineers face is to find innovative solutions to build next-generation cooling designs that produce the desired temperatures are compact in size, cost-effective as well as adaptable to fit different system designs.
Courses you can study in the subject
A Master’s degree in thermal engineering at any university abroad focuses on the design and analyses of the different components operating under thermal control.
Universities such as Cranfield University in the UK offer thermal engineering courses which let you specialize further in different areas of study: Gas turbine technology; power propulsion and the environment; rotating machinery, engineering and management; and aerospace propulsion. These courses equip you with advanced engineering skills required for successful careers in these fields.
Apart from the theoretical components, the course usually consists of an extensive research or design project which students need to complete.
Universities abroad look for a minimum educational requirement of a bachelor’s degree in engineering, preferably in either chemical or mechanical engineering. Apart from these educational qualifications, proficiency in natural science and mathematics, computer skills, and excellent communication skills are desirable.
Graduates of thermal engineering courses often find themselves with two career routes: ‘research and development’ and ‘design and construction’.
As a thermal engineer, you can expect to work on industrial power plants, and primarily be involved in conducing feasibility studies, design, planning and production. With energy conservation having become a huge concern today, the skills of qualified thermal engineers are sought after in various industries ranging from petrochemicals to renewable energies.