Mechanical engineers must be excellent presenters and impeccable communicators, in addition to being an effective manager, a team player, and skilled at managing multiple projects at once. A high number of mechanical engineers end up with careers working for companies that manufacture machinery, such as automotive parts and underwater structures, either doing research and development, engineering services, or manufacturing. If you’re unsure if mechanical engineering is right for you, click here. We’ve compiled a list of the best mechanical engineering colleges in the US.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering is a world-renowned program that equips students with the skills necessary to break into this specialized and compelling field of engineering. There are three mechanical engineering degree options: Course 2, which is the traditional program that equips students for a number of careers in mechanical engineering; Course 2-A, which allows students to combine their focus on mechanical engineering with another, complementary, focus like robotics or energy; and then the 2-OE program, which takes the Course 2 curriculum and builds in an ocean engineering focus.
The curriculum for the BS in Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech consists of core classes that address fundamental engineering concepts with a set of classes that focus on design and professional practice, and 15 credits worth of free electives for students to take advantage of the broader curriculum options. Given the opportunity of comparatively more elective hours than the typical mechanical engineering program, students are encouraged to pursue one of the many minors and certificates offered, or to work towards a specialization within the Mechanical Engineering department.
The Mechanical Engineering program offers three different degrees with varied specializations in mechanical engineering for students to choose from. Students can pursue a BS in Mechanical Engineering, Product Design, or Biomechanical Engineering. The Product Design option makes this program stand out--the goal is to equip students with the skills they need to take a human-needs based problem, business objectives, and technology and create a compelling and effective engineering solution. All three degrees give students a strong, balanced foundation in communication, lab work, project-based design, and quantitative principles.
- UC, Berkeley
Students enrolled in the BS in Mechanical Engineering program at UC, Berkeley begin their freshman year by taking a series of basic but rigorous engineering, chemistry, math and physics courses. Students then focus their studies in with more advanced coursework in Thermodynamics, Fluid Mechanics, Experimentation and Measurement, Technical Electives, and more. With over 30 different research labs, students can contribute to groundbreaking research occurring in the field of mechanical engineering focusing on: biomechanical engineering & health; controls & dynamics of complex systems; energy science and technology; green and sustainable energies; and micro and nano engineering. In addition to the BS in Mechanical Engineering, UC Berkeley also offers joint programs with the Department of Nuclear Engineering and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
- University of Michigan--Ann Arbor
Students enrolled in the undergraduate BS in Mechanical Engineering program at University of Michigan are encouraged to pursue a diverse array of knowledge via courses outside of the Engineering Department. “Intellectual breadth” is of high value, and students are able to take classes in the Humanities (at least 3); courses that cover Professional & Creative Development; Economics; and Liberal Arts courses. Students are additionally required to complete core courses in Design & Manufacturing; Mechanics & Materials; Dynamics & Controls; Thermal Sciences; and Labs & Technical Communication. Every student chooses a Technical Elective that they must complete 9 credits of (one class must be a 400 [Advanced] level or higher) in one of the above focuses.
- University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign
The University of Illinois Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering not only offers a traditional BS in Mechanical Engineering, but also offers a BS in Engineering Mechanics. The Engineering Mechanics curriculum focuses on studying how math, science, and engineering principles contribute to mechanical solutions, with an emphasis on the physical principles that serve as the backbone for modern engineering design. The Engineering Mechanics program is significantly smaller than the Mechanical Engineering program--as of the 2015-16 school year, 139 students were studying Engineering Mechanics vs. 899 studying Mechanical Engineering.
- Purdue University-West Lafayette
Students who pursue Purdue’s MS in Mechanical Engineering degree graduate with an in-depth expertise in one of the most useful and broadly applicable fields in engineering. Purdue boasts a notable co-op program that provides students with the opportunity to gain 12-22 months of job experience in the field before graduation. Students can begin a co-op program as early as the start of their sophomore year, which is earlier than the majority of other co-op programs. One unique degree offered by Purdue is the joint BSME/MBA, where students can simultaneously pursue their BS in Mechanical Engineering and their Masters in Business Administration through the College of Engineering and the Krannert School of Management. This joint program takes 5 years to complete.
- California Institute of Technology
Pursuing a BS at Caltech means being at the forefront of mechanical engineering advances. The curriculum was recently expanded to include new disciplines for students to study that incorporate newer technological developments that have shifted the basics of engineering and science. Newer disciplines that Caltech covers in their curriculum include: micro- and nano-mechanical systems, simulation and synthesis, integrated complex distributed systems, and biological engineering. Students who are interested in studying a slightly broader curriculum outside of just mechanical engineering can opt to pursue their BS in Engineering and Applied Science.
- University of Texas-Austin
The Mechanical Engineering program at UT-Austin offers a substantial curriculum that will prepare any mechanical engineer for success in the field. UT-Austin has a unique option called Career Gateway Electives, which enables students to customize their classes to directly benefit their career goals and complete a notable project. Career Gateway Elective focuses include robotics, sustainable energy systems, manufacturing and design, and nuclear and radiation engineering, among others. The school also boasts an impressive makerspace called Longhorn Maker Studios where students have access to a plethora of technology, including 3D printers and scanners, plasma cutters, and laser cutters. Students use this makerspace to create physical prototypes for their classes as well as just to experiment.
- Cornell University
Outside of the core curriculum of the BS in Mechanical Engineering, students choose from the following areas of concentration: mechanical systems, vehicle engineering, biomechanics, and materials processing and precision engineering. The Cornell Experiential Learning Laboratory through the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering serves as an incredibly unique aspect of the program’s offerings--Cornell students are encouraged to set up and run their own project teams to create race vehicles and other engineered machines. Teams compete against others around the world and Cornell has an impressive track record of success in every kind of race, from rocket testing and minesweeping competitions to race car races.
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