Mechanical engineering, the broadest of the engineering professions, provides an opportunity for a wide range and variety of services, work, and interests. The mechanical engineer deals with the conversion of energy, the design of machines, the instrumentation and control of processes, and the control of machines and the environment. Conventional fields of interest are transportation (automobiles, aircraft, urban and mass transit); machines and systems for electrical power production from coal, oil, and gas; heating and air conditioning of buildings; and the complex machinery and methods of making steel, plastics, paper products, etc. Today the mechanical engineer is directly involved in new and challenging fields such as computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM); artificial body organs and devices (bioengineering); nuclear power generation; applications of electronics to the control of machines and to laboratory instruments; aerospace (spacecraft and rockets); and the control of environmental pollution for automobiles and industry.
The diversity of opportunities for the mechanical engineer and the extensive overlap of interests with the other engineering and scientific disciplines demand that the undergraduate education be broad rather than specialized and that it provide a thorough grounding in all of the engineering fundamentals. The curriculum is a carefully structured blend of theory and the practical aspects of engineering. Engineering applications are emphasized in the junior and senior years with three semesters of design. The diversity of the curriculum is also apparent in the senior projects courses where assignments range from the design, construction, and testing of a solar electric automobile to the investigation of air pollution detection systems.
Since three-fourths of the curriculum’s technical content consists of a foundation of engineering theory, the graduate is uniquely prepared to attack the technical challenges of the future and solve the new engineering problems of society. The graduate is well prepared for direct employment in the engineering profession or for further formal education in graduate school.