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Mechanical Engineering

Redefine the material world and even make a bit of atomic magic. Our faculty and students explore the entire lifecycle of materials, from extraction and manufacturing of raw goods to the distribution, usage, and disposal of products. At CERT, you can go classical with the Glass Lab and Forge, or see the future unfold at CERT.

Department of Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical engineering is concerned with the responsible development of products, processes, and power, at scales ranging from molecules to large and complex systems. Mechanical engineering principles and skills are involved at some stage during the conception, design, development, and manufacture of every human-made object with moving parts. Many innovations crucial to our future will have their roots in the world of mass, motion, forces, and energy—the world of mechanical engineers.

Mechanical engineering is one of the broadest and most versatile of the engineering professions. This is reflected in the portfolio of current activities in the Department of Mechanical Engineering (ME), one that has widened rapidly in the past decade. Today, our faculty are involved in a wide range of projects, including designing tough hydrogels, using nanostructured surfaces for clean water and thermal management of microelectronics, developing efficient methods for robust design, the building of robotics for land and underwater exploration, creating optimization methods that autonomously generate decision-making strategies, developing driverless cars, inventing cost-effective photovoltaic cells, developing thermal and electrical energy storage systems, using acoustics to explore the ocean of one of Jupiter’s moons, studying the biomimetics of swimming fish for underwater sensing applications, developing physiological models for metastatic cancers, inventing novel medical devices, exploring 3D printing of nanostructures and macrostructures, and developing coatings to create non-stick surfaces.

The department carries out its mission with a focus on the seven areas of excellence described below. Our education and research agendas are informed by these areas, and these are the areas in which we seek to impassion the best undergraduate and graduate students.


Area 1:

Mechanics: Modeling, Experimentation, and Computation (MMEC). At the heart of mechanical engineering lies the ability to measure, describe, and model the physical world of materials and mechanisms. The MMEC area focuses on teaching the fundamental principles, essential skills, and scientific tools necessary for predicting thermo-mechanical phenomena and using such knowledge in rational engineering design. We provide students with the foundations in experimental, modeling, and computational skills needed to understand, exploit, and enhance the thermo-physical behavior of advanced engineering devices and systems, and to make lifelong creative contributions at the forefront of the mechanical sciences and beyond. Research in the MMEC area focuses on four key thrusts:


1. Computational mechanics
2. Fluid dynamics and transport
3. Mechanics of solid materials
4. Nonlinear dynamics


The fundamental engineering principles embodied in these topics can be applied over a vast range of force, time, and length scales, and applications of interest in the MMEC area span the spectrum from the nano/micro world to the geophysical domain. A Course 2-A track is offered in this area.


Area 2:

Design, Manufacturing, and Product Development. Design, manufacturing, and product development is the complete set of activities needed to bring new devices and technologies to the marketplace. These activities span the entire product life-cycle, from the identification of a market opportunity or need, through design, testing, manufacture and distribution, and end of useful life. Our work includes everything from understanding the voice of the customer to finding new ways of processing materials to improving product performance and tracking product flow through a distribution network. A central component of this area is the design and construction of novel equipment, either for consumer products or for industrial uses. This spans scales from meters to microns, and involves mechanical, electronic and electromechanical devices. Many MechE students apply design, manufacturing, and product development skills and techniques to extracurricular design work for organizations and student activities such as Design that Matters, Formula SAE, Satellite Engineering Team, and the Solar Electric Vehicle Team. Some projects lead to flagship products for new companies. A Course 2-A track in product development is offered along with a unique Master of Engineering degree in manufacturing.


Area 3:

Controls, Instrumentation, and Robotics. The mission in this area is to promote research and education for automating, monitoring, and manipulating systems. The focus is on system-level behavior that emerges primarily from interactions and cannot be explained from individual component behaviour alone. We seek to identify fundamental principles and methodologies that enable systems to exhibit intelligent, goal-oriented behavior, and develop innovative instruments to monitor, manipulate, and control systems. The core competencies in which we seek to excel are:

Methodologies for understanding system behaviour through physical modelling, identification, and estimation.


Technologies for sensors and sensor networks; actuators and energy transducers; and systems for monitoring, processing, and communicating information.

Fundamental theories and methodologies for analyzing, synthesizing, and controlling systems; learning and adapting to unknown environments; and effectively achieving task goals.

We seek to apply our core competencies to diverse areas of social, national, and global needs. These include health care, security, education, medical and security related imaging, space and ocean exploration, and autonomous systems in air, land, and underwater environments. We also offer a Course 2-A track in this area.