About Mechanical Engineering

rapid prototype machine piecesSamples from a rapid prototyping machine.  Click on image to see video.  You will need the free QuickTime Player.

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Mechanical engineering is a traditional engineering discipline encompassing diverse applications of science and technology. Mechanical engineers are employed by a wide range of industries such as: semiconductor manufacturing and equipment, computers and electronics, aerospace, automotive, power generation, alternative energy, biotechnology, and biomedical devices, to name just a few.

Our mechanical engineering program at SJSU has three stems: design, mechatronics, and thermal-fluid sciences. Design and thermal-fluid sciences are the backbone of all accredited mechanical engineering programs in the country. Mechatronics is a departmental specialty at SJSU, and offers our students another fascinating and marketable field of study. Our hands-on curriculum incorporates a multitude of laboratory experiences to put classroom theory into practice. Our award-winning design projects demonstrate just how proficient our students and faculty are at designing and building creative ideas that make a difference. Lastly, we involve our undergraduate and graduate students in our faculty research, advancing the frontiers of mechanical engineering.

In the design stem, students learn how to use state-of-the-art computer-aided-design (CAD) tools. These tools automate tasks such as generating engineering drawings and assemblies; computing mass, volume, and center of gravity; and checking for interference. Other tools compute internal stresses and predict failure points. Finally, common methods of building prototypes and manufacturing techniques are taught and practiced. Knowledge of mechanical design is expected of any practicing mechanical engineer.

The mechatronics stem is best described as an intersection of mechanical, electrical, and software engineering. It involves the design and fabrication of products that incorporate sensors and microprocessors, giving them the capability of sensing and reacting to the environment, or of automating tedious and error-prone processes. Robotics, manufacturing, and smart product design are examples of mechatronics applications.

Lastly, the thermal-fluid sciences involve the study of applied thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and heat transfer. The forces, energy, and power resulting from fluids and temperature differences can be substantial, and harnessing them has had an immense impact on society. The internal combustion engine, generation of electricity, and refrigeration/air-conditioning are just a few examples of thermal-fluids applications we have all come to rely on. Future applications will undoubtedly include areas such as alternative and hybrid energy, as well as biotechnology.

We offer degree programs at both the undergraduate level (Bachelor of Science) and graduate level (Master's of Science). Undergraduate ME majors take classes in all three stems, and have the option of choosing a focus area. Graduate ME majors choose one of the stems as their area of specialty.