Frequently Asked Questions

Research Overview - The excitement of Graduate Study in ACTION!

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Research Groups

The Department of Mechanical Engineering offers programs leading to Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees, both in mechanical engineering and engineering mechanics. An individualized plan of study can be designed from a wide range of courses and research experiences to suit the professional aspirations of graduate students. A plan of study typically includes courses within and external to the department. The Mechanical Engineering Department offers research experiences in four broad areas: Fluid Thermal Science & Engineering, Biomechanics Engineering, Dynamic Systems & Controls, and Solid Mechanics, Design, & Manufacturing. The research opportunities are diverse, and they can range from working closely with an individual faculty member and/or as part of a team in a large interdisciplinary research center. Graduate students are expected to engage in research that pushes the boundaries of science and engineering and leads to new knowledge creation.

MS degree program students complete 30 credits of graduate work, including in most cases a Master’s thesis requiring 6-8 credits. The MS program can be completed in four semesters. Students with BS degrees in Mechanical Engineering, Engineering Mechanics or a related area can be admitted into the MS program.

The PhD Degree is a research-based degree with specific course requirements set by a research adviser and committee to support the student's area of research. Students complete both coursework and research requiring 2 to 5 years beyond the MS degree. Students with an MS degree, or equivalent, in Mechanical Engineering, Engineering Mechanics, or a related area can be admitted into the PhD program. By special consideration students without an MS degree can be admitted directly into the PhD program.

Most of our graduate students receive some form of financial aid, the majority of them in the form of research or teaching assistantships and fellowships. Graduate students appointed as Research Assistants (RAs) work in funded research projects sponsored by various industrial and federal agencies. This work is typically the basis for the student’s MS or PhD thesis. In addition to research assistantships, some students have appointments as Teaching Assistants (TAs). Teaching assistantships enable many of our students to obtain both laboratory and classroom teaching experiences. Many of our graduate students start in their program as TAs, but quickly move to RA positions.

Almost all of our graduate students are involved in a research project. Most research activity in the department is organized around one of several world-class research laboratories which support a variety of experimental, computational, and analytical activities. Graduate courses and research opportunities are available in fluid mechanics, combustion, heat transfer, thermodynamics, biomechanics, internal combustion engines, turbomachinery, computational fluid dynamics, system dynamics, controls, vibrations, nonlinear dynamics, mechatronics, manufacturing, computational design, computational solid mechanics, mechanics and processing of composite materials, elasticity, plasticity, experimental mechanics, and micromechanics.

Course Projections for the Education and Research Groups

Biomechanics Four-Year Graduate Course Projection

Dynamic Systems and Controls Four-Year Graduate Course Projection

Fluid-Thermal Science and Engineering Four-Year Graduate Course Projection

Solid Mechanics, Design & Manufacturing (SMDM) Four-Year Graduate Course Projection

Master of Science (MS) Program Components

Master’s Plan A
There is a Master’s plan A for degrees in either Engineering Mechanics or Mechanical Engineering. Master’s plan A has these components: (1) prescribed course work, (2) research, (3) a master’s thesis, and (4) the oral defense of the master’s thesis.
MS Degree Examination Committee

Master’s Plan B
There is a Master’s plan B for degrees in either Engineering Mechanics or Mechanical Engineering. The Master’s plan B has two components: (1) prescribed course work, and (2) a final evaluation by the academic advisor and graduate advisor.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Degree Components

The components of the doctoral programs in Engineering Mechanics and Mechanical Engineering are very similar. In each case, the student first finds an advisor and forms a committee. Subsequently, the components of the doctoral degree programs consist of a qualifying exam, a comprehensive exam, prescribed course work, research, the dissertation, and a final oral defense and examination.