Mechanical engineer i Interview Questions


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NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Mechanical Engineer I was asked...December 12, 2014

Ice cube melts in cup of water. What happens to the volume?

3 Answers

The volume decreases. When water is frozen, the volume increases and density decreases. This is why it floats in liquid water. Less

If the volume is referring to the cumulative volume of the ice cube and the water it is floating in, then as the ice cube melts the average density increases while the cumulative mass is conserved, thus leading to a decrease in volume. If the volume is referring to the volume of water, then it increases because the ice melts and increases the mass of water, which increases the volume of water. If the volume is actually referring to the water level, then it stays the same because the mass of the ice is supported by displacing a volume of water with the same mass. As the mass of the ice decreases it replaces the displaced water volume required with newly-melted water of the same mass. Less

The volume stays the same. The cup did not change, therefore the volume shouldn't change. Less

Valero Energy

We were sitting in the third floor of a 16 floor building. After asking me about my experiences with working within a group the interviewer suddenly asked me, "How many pennies would it take to stack as high as this building?"

2 Answers

It took me a second to realize that his apparent non sequitur was an attempt to evaluate my problem solving capabilities and methodology. Then, I estimated the width of a penny and the height of the floors within the building and talked through a calculation for him. Less

It would be one penny less than those which would just exceed the height of the building when stacked above one another. Less

Applied Materials

tell me about this project

2 Answers

the explanation seemed to be not clear to the interviewer

It's essential to demonstrate that you can really go deep... there are plenty of followup questions and (sometimes tangential) angles to explore. There's a lot of Mechanical Engineer experts who've worked at Applied Materials, who provide this sort of practice through mock interviews. There's a whole list of them curated on Prepfully. Less

Northrop Grumman

What has been your active role in the team process you're currently working with?

2 Answers

Explained details of daily involvement, software used, level of completion of initial input received, and final deliverable. Less

I quote the repairs and write up the job router steps to include R & R parts, inspection. Testing, and FAA 8130 Less


I was given a detailed engineering drawing and asked to see if anything was wrong, and to correct the irregularities if there were any. The hole callouts were a mess and there were mismatching fonts as well as redundant measurement callouts.

1 Answers

Know your way around an engineering drawing

Waldemar S. Nelson and Company

Are you planning on getting your PE?

1 Answers

Yes, absolutely. I believe if you graduate in engineering and you do not pursue your PE, it's almost like you're selling yourself short. Get your PE, regardless if you need to use it. Less


If I gave you a pen what would you draw on this whiteboard.

2 Answers

Blank stare, mouth opened thinking "is this real life"

a smiley symbol with a clock outside of it

Elbit Systems of America

How would you athermalize a lens system?

1 Answers

Use materials of different CTE to move one or more lenses to compensate for thermal expansion. Less

Huntington Ingalls Industries

Do you find the job description appealing?

1 Answers

Yes, if I am able to apply both what I learned in school with a real world experience then that, in my opinion, is the ideal job position. Less

Boston Engineering

Can you describe the difference between working for an engineering consultancy business versus an engineering development business?

1 Answers

Said I didn't know! After scanning Google, however, it seems that consultant engineers are more involved with high level systems design/theory. Development engineers are more involved with final implementation of designs. A consultant engineer interfaces with co-workers from various disciplines, whereas a development engineer may have a more narrow focus. More opportunities for learning and creativity as a consultant engineer, but less of an understanding about physically implementing a product. PLEASE perform your own search for more (and possibly more accurate) info. Less

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