Jun 15, 2024  
Undergraduate Record 2011-2012 
Undergraduate Record 2011-2012 [ARCHIVED RECORD]

Mechanical Engineering

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: School of Engineering and Applied Science

Mechanical engineering is the broadest of the engineering disciplines, providing opportunities for employment in industry, business, government, research, and education. The mechanical engineer is concerned with the development of machines and systems for diverse applications in our modern technological society. Talents and interests of a graduate M.E. include those required to plan, analyze, design, and improve components and systems. The practice of mechanical engineering is applied to manufacturing, energy conversion, transportation, construction, and environmental control. In the future, mechanical engineers must provide leadership in developing new sources of power and new systems to accommodate societal demands.

Students take a sequence of basic and engineering science courses. They develop engineering problem solving skills in the areas of mechanics, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, heat transfer, materials and automatic controls. Students learn to use higher mathematics, statistics and modern computer techniques and productivity tools. The students will use symbolic and high-level mathematics tools, solid modeling and finite element analysis tools, as well as computational fluids dynamics and materials selection tools. They also have access to a state-of the art rapid prototyping facility with numerous 3D printers, CNC machines, laser cutters, and the like The rapid prototyping facility can be used both for course work, as well as individual entrepreneurial initiatives. Mechanical engineering principles are reinforced and integrated through design assignments and “hands-on” laboratory courses in experimental methods, digital electronics, and electro-mechanical systems. Students conduct experiments in labs where they use digital data acquisition systems to evaluate the performance of instruments, motors, engines, electrical circuits, signal processing equipment and solid state control devices. For each lab module, students develop a hypothesis, design the experiment, carry out the test, and perform the data analysis.

The two-semester lab sequence in the third year familiarizes students with the state-of-the-art equipment used in modern industry. Working both individually and in teams, students also develop communications skills and learn about the complex cultural, legal, ethical and economic factors which influence the engineering profession. Those who wish to may select courses that satisfy the requirements of a minor area of study (e.g., aerospace, bio-medical, environmental management, engineering business).

Young engineers need relevant experiences to be competitive in the global economy. As indicated by discussions with recruiters and industry leaders, graduating students are now expected to have some practical and/or unique experience that they will be able to apply in an industry in the near term. These experiences may come from laboratory work, projects at the University, or summer jobs or internships with industry.

Program Objectives

Graduates of the Mechanical Engineering program at the University of Virginia have the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that allow them to make tangible contributions, meet new technical challenges, contribute effectively as team members, and be innovators in the analysis, design, and implementation of mechanical devices and systems.  They communicate effectively and interact responsibly with colleagues, clients, employers and society.


A minor in mechanical engineering is comprised of five courses, and requires MAE 2000, as well as two courses from List A and two courses from List B. List A: MAE 2100, MAE 2300, MAE 2310, MAE 2320, MAE 3210. List B: MAE 3120, MAE 3140, MAE 3620, MAE 3710, MAE 4710, MAE 4730, MAE 4740, MAE 4760.

Mechanical Engineering Curriculum (128 credits)

Second Semester Credits: 17

Third Semester Credits: 15

Fourth Semester Credits: 16

Fifth Semester Credits: 18

Sixth Semester Credits: 16

Seventh Semester Credits: 16

Eighth Semester Credits: 15

  • MAE Design II elective (See footnote 5 below) Credits / Units: 3
  • Technical elective (See footnote 1 below) Credits / Units: 3
  • Technical elective (See footnote 1 below) Credits / Units: 3
  • Credits: 3
  • Unrestricted elective (See footnote 2 below) Credits / Units: 3


(1) Chosen from the MAE Department’s approved Technical Elective List of courses. See Department’s website.

(2) Unrestricted electives may be chosen from any graded course in the University except mathematics courses   below MATH 1310 and courses that substantially duplicate any others offered for the degree, including PHYS 2010, 2020; CS 1010, 1020; or any introductory programming course. Students in doubt as to what is acceptable to satisfy a degree requirement should get the approval of their advisor and the dean’s office, located in A122 Thornton Hall. APMA 1090 counts as a three-credit unrestricted elective. 

(3)  Chosen from: BIOL 2010, 2020; CHEM 1620; ECE 2066; PHYS 2620; and MSE 2090.

(4)  Chosen from the MAE Department’s Math Science II approved list or the Science Elective I list. See Department’s web site.

(5)  Chosen from MAE 4610, 4620, 4630, 4640, 4650, 4660, 4670, 4680, or prior approval by the MAE Undergraduate Affairs Committee.

(6)  Chosen from the approved Humanities and Social Science list available in A122 Thornton Hall.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: School of Engineering and Applied Science