Return to: School of Engineering and Applied Science: Departments/Programs
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. 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., computer science, materials science, physics and 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.
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.