Mechanical engineers design products and systems used by the public for a variety of applications. They work in areas as diverse as aerospace, bioengineering, energy systems, propulsion and transportation systems, automated manufacturing and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC).
Due to the versatility, flexibility and ability of mechanical engineers to work in a team, a wide spectrum of career opportunities is open to them. Practicing mechanical engineers are generally required to take a product from concept to prototype and beyond. In preparing for lifelong learning, it is necessary to develop the whole person. In addition to professional competency, a balanced program encompassing strong communication skills and an appreciation for the arts, humanities and social sciences is required. Professional competence is built on a foundation of mathematics, physical and natural sciences, engineering sciences, design and laboratory experience. The principles learned in such disciplines are applied to mechanical design and systems, energy-related issues and fluid mechanics. The role of the engineer as problem-solver and designer is the common thread throughout the curriculum. Most mechanical engineering graduates take positions in industry, state government or business. Some, however, continue their formal education in a graduate program.
A major goal of the junior year is to develop the students’ skills through engineering topics equally divided between the department’s focuses in energy and in structures and motion. Computers are used when appropriate to aid in reaching and interpreting solutions to engineering problems. Students participate in five laboratory courses that emphasize the statistical nature of systems and their behavior. Mechanical, thermal, and systems design activities are continued in three junior-year courses.
The main goal in the senior year is to integrate knowledge in science with engineering topics, thereby developing a degree of maturity in the student’s engineering capabilities. Seniors may tailor their curricula by choosing nine semester hours of technical electives. Each of these technical electives includes design as an important component. As such, students may decide to develop depth in a certain area or to develop breadth in several areas. Some students choose to pursue an independent research project under faculty direction.
The senior year culminates in a two-semester sequence in engineering design. The first emphasizes design considerations and methods required to solve open-ended problems, as well as written and oral communication of the design solution. The final design course is a capstone that requires integration of knowledge gained in preceding analysis and design courses with generation of a concept-to-prototype schema.
Mechanical Engineering School student learning outcomes (ABET)
- an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering
- an ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data
- an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability
- an ability to function on multidisciplinary teams
- an ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems
- an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility
- an ability to communicate effectively
- the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context
- a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning
- a knowledge of contemporary issues
- an ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice