Areas of Interest in Mechanical Engineering

Areas of Interest in Mechanical Engineering
Areas of interest include:

Biomedical and Engineering Fluid Mechanics

This field of study is based on the fundamentals of fluid mechanics and their broad range of applications in the biomedical and engineering arenas. Areas of current research include blood circulation in the body and its potential role in the regulation of normal physiological function and in the development of disease; groundwater and atmospheric flows and their implications for pollutant transport and environmental concerns; aerodynamic flow around transportation vehicles and its impact on vehicle performance; and flow in combustion engines and other energy systems with considerations of efficiency and environmental impact. These areas are investigated both experimentally and computationally.

Suggested courses (NOTE: courses may or may not apply to major requirements; check with a major advisor): Aerospace Science and Engineering 138; Engineering 160; Chemical Engineering 161A, 161B; Civil and Environmental Engineering 144, 149; Mechanical Engineering 161, 163.

Combustion and the Environment

Combustion is widely used for energy generation, propulsion, heating and waste disposal, as well as for many other applications. Mechanical engineers are often heavily involved with the design of combustion systems (internal combustion engines, gas turbines, furnaces, etc.) and deal with aspects of combustion ranging from increasing efficiencies to reducing pollutant emissions. This area of interest is designed for those who would like to work in fields that use combustion, or that deal with pollution related to combustion. With the current increased emphasis on reducing pollutants while efficiency is maintained or increased, mechanical engineers are becoming increasingly important in designing and improving combustion systems.

The program of study focuses on basic aspects of combustion, such as the properties of flames and fuels and pollution; applications of combustion to practical systems like engines and burners; design and optimization of systems that use combustion; and environmental considerations like pollution generation, control, transport and effect.

Suggested courses (NOTE: courses may or may not apply to major requirements; check with a major advisor): Mechanical Engineering 161, 163; Civil and Environmental Engineering 149, 150.

Ground Vehicle Systems

The design of surface vehicles is an aspect of mechanical engineering that emphasizes the development of more environmentally-benign vehicles that can provide transportation while using fewer resources. Innovations in this field require competence in vehicle dynamics, propulsion and engine concepts, control of power transmission and construction of lightweight manufacturable structures and systems. Researchers in this field also study alternatively-fueled power systems, including electric drives.

Suggested courses (NOTE: courses may or may not apply to major requirements; check with a major advisor): Aerospace Science and Engineering 127, 129; Civil and Environmental Engineering 130, 149, 163; Engineering 122, 160; Mechanical Engineering 121, 134, 139, 152.

Heat Transfer, Thermodynamics and Energy Systems

This area of interest emphasizes the fundamentals of heat transfer and thermodynamics and their application to the design of advanced engineering systems. The objective of this program of study is to introduce the fundamental processes of heat transfer and thermodynamics in complex engineering systems to enable more efficient, cost-effective and reliable designs with less environmental pollution and impact. An understanding of heat transfer and thermodynamics is required for the design of efficient, cost-effective systems for power generation (including advanced energy conversion systems), propulsion (including combustion engines and gas turbines), heat exchangers, industrial processes, refining and chemical processing. This area of interest is important to many industries—aerospace, defense, automotive, metals, glass, paper and plastic, as well as to the thermal design of electronic and computer packages.

Suggested courses (NOTE: courses are approved to satisfy Restricted Elective requirement): Aerospace Science and Engineering 138; Mechanical Engineering 161, 163, 164.

Manufacturing

Manufacturing is the process of converting raw materials into products. A major activity of mechanical engineers is studying and working with various production methods and techniques, integrating creative design activities into actual fabricated products. The manufacturing program  provides hands-on experience with state-of-the-art and computer-integrated processes and manufacturing methods. Laboratories have state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment for conventional and non-traditional machining, three-dimensional measurement and plastic injection molding. The program also emphasizes computer-oriented manufacturing. A manufacturing engineer will have a solid background in manufacturing processes and systems, as well as in statistics, design, controls and applications of microprocessors.

Suggested courses (NOTE: courses may or may not apply to major requirements; check with a major advisor): Biomedical Engineering 118; Electrical and Computer Engineering 160; Materials Science and Engineering 180, 181; Mechanical Engineering 150B, 151, 154.

Mechanical Design

Creating and improving products, processes or systems that are mechanical in nature are the primary activities of a professional mechanical engineer. Mechanical design involves product development from concept generation to detailed design, manufacturing process selection and planning, quality control and assurance and life-cycle considerations. Solutions to major social problems such as environmental pollution, energy shortages and a lack of mass transportation and of raw materials will depend heavily on the engineer’s ability to create new types of machinery and mechanical systems. An engineer-designer must have a solid and relatively broad background in the basic physical and engineering sciences and have the ability to solve a variety of problems. In addition to having technical competence, mechanical designers must be able to consider the socio-economic consequences of a design and its possible impact on the environment, as well as its safety, reliability and economics.

Suggested courses (NOTE: courses may or may not apply to major requirements; check with a major advisor): Aerospace Science and Engineering 133; Biological Systems Engineering 114, 120, 165; Biomedical Engineering 118; Engineering 122, 160; Materials Science and Engineering 180, 181, 182; Mechanical Engineering 121, 134, 139, 150B, 151, 152, 154, 161, 163.

System Dynamics and Control

Engineers are increasingly concerned with the performance of integrated dynamics systems in which it is not possible to optimize component parts without considering the overall system. System dynamics and control specialists study the modeling, analysis and simulation of all types of dynamic systems and the use of automatic control techniques to change the dynamic characteristics of systems in useful ways. This program emphasizes physical systems that are closely related to mechanical engineering, but the techniques for studying these systems apply to social, economic and other dynamic systems.

Suggested courses (NOTE: courses may or may not apply to major requirements; check with a major advisor): Aerospace Science and Engineering 129, 141; Electrical and Computer Engineering 160; Engineering 122; Mechanical Engineering 121, 134, 139, 152.

Transportation Systems

An important aspect of mechanical engineering is the planning, design, and operation of transportation systems. As society recognizes the increasing importance of optimizing transportation systems to minimize environmental degradation and energy expenditure, engineers will need to consider major innovations in the way people and goods are moved. These innovations will require competence in vehicle dynamics, propulsion and control, and an understanding of the problems caused by present-day modes of transportation.

Suggested courses (NOTE: courses may or may not apply to major requirements; check with a major advisor): Aerospace Science and Engineering 127, 129; Biological Systems Engineering 114, 120; Civil and Environmental Engineering 131, 149, 161, 163, 165; Engineering 122, 160; Mechanical Engineering 134, 150B, 161, 163.