Do engineering technicians get to invent and patent ideas within large companies, or is this typically reserved for the mechanical engineers?
Anyone can patent machinery. The question is, will a company be willing to pay a technician to spend his time inventing? Probably not. As a prior post indicated, the responsibility for solving the porblem, at least theoretically, usually belongs to the engineer. In good engineering teams, the problems are solved by more than one person. To that end if the idea is patented, everyone's contirbution should be documented. It usually comes down to a company's willingness to risk the cost of a patent on the potential payback. Fo that sort of risk assessment, they want to undertsand the magnitude of the gamble. Engineers are pretty good at detailing what the risks are and getting the approval for patents.
Mech Engr Technicians are mechanics. They assemble, tear down and help diagnose things gone wrong with machines. They take data etc. but rarely will do much inventive work, still, some inventive opportunity exists for technicians, I've had many work for me and good one's are worth everything they get paid and more. Truth be told though, very few Engineering technicians are getting hired these days. If you want to be an engineer, bite the bullet and do the 6 years of school it takes, you will not regret it. Astrobuf
Mostly, engineer's are problem solver's. In the case of mechanical engineers. you are partly correct. They are given a problem, like they need a machine that can build a part or perform some action, but has to fit within certin peramiters. So the engineer has to figure out how to make it work. But this is only a small part of what an engineer does.