Mechanical engineering is the discipline that applies the principles of engineering, physics, and materials science for the design, analysis, manufacturing, and maintenance of mechanical systems. It is the branch of engineering that involves the design, production, and operation of machinery. It is one of the oldest and broadest of the engineering disciplines.
The mechanical engineering field requires an understanding of core areas including mechanics, kinematics, thermodynamics, materials science, structural analysis, and electricity. Mechanical engineers use these core principles along with tools like computer-aided design, and product lifecycle management to design and analyze manufacturing plants, industrial equipment and machinery, heating and cooling systems, transport systems, aircraft, watercraft, robotics, medical devices, weapons, and others.
Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS, also written as micro-electro-mechanical, MicroElectroMechanical or microelectronic and microelectromechanical systems and the related micromechatronics) is the technology of microscopic devices, particularly those with moving parts. It merges at the nano-scale into nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS) and nanotechnology. MEMS are also referred to as micromachines in Japan, or micro systems technology (MST) in Europe.
MEMS are separate and distinct from the hypothetical vision of molecular nanotechnology or molecular electronics. MEMS are made up of components between 1 and 100 micrometres in size (i.e. 0.001 to 0.1 mm), and MEMS devices generally range in size from 20 micrometres to a millimetre (i.e. 0.02 to 1.0 mm). They usually consist of a central unit that processes data (the microprocessor) and several components that interact with the surroundings such as microsensors. At these size scales, the standard constructs of classical physics are not always sufficient. Because of the large surface area to volume ratio of MEMS, surface effects such as electrostatics and wetting dominate over volume effects such as inertia or thermal mass.