Quick Facts about the Department of Mechanical Engineering
- The department has administered one of the largest mechanical engineering programs in the United States for more than 100 years and ranks in the top ten nationally in terms of bachelor’s degrees awarded.
- Iowa State University’s first diploma was awarded in the discipline of mechanical engineering.
- With 1,000 undergraduate students and 150 graduate students, mechanical engineering is the most popular major at Iowa State University. Our students come from the state of Iowa, 20 other states, and 20 foreign countries.
- Each year, the department awards more than 200 undergraduate scholarships, some 300 students participate in industrial internships and co-ops, and 50 students study abroad.
- The department boasts internationally acclaimed research programs in biological and nanoscale sciences, clean energy technologies, complex fluid systems, design and manufacturing innovation, and simulation and visualization.
- Our research programs are sponsored by industrial partners including the National Science Foundation, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Departments of Energy, Defense, Agriculture, and Transportation.
- Mechanical engineering faculty and student researchers collaborate across 24 departments on campus, all 7 university colleges, 17 research institutes and centers, and 150 organizations outside of Iowa State.
- Mechanical engineering faculty lead major research enterprises, including the Bioeconomy Institute, the CyberInnovation Institute, the Virtual Reality Applications Center, the Industrial Assessment Center, and the Center for Building Energy Research.
- Faculty members are regularly praised for their contributions to research, education, and professional service by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, American Society for Engineering Education, Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, and Society of Automotive Engineers.
- The department manages more than 50,000 square feet of modern research and teaching facilities, including the Caterpillar Mechatronics Laboratory, the Boyd Laboratory for Product Realization, and the Engle Manufacturing Laboratory.
The Mechanical Engineering Profession
Mechanical engineers are typically involved with the generation, distribution, and use of energy; the processing of materials; the control and automation of manufacturing systems; the design and development of machines; and the solutions to environmental problems. Research, testing manufacturing, operations, marketing, and administration are some other key activities associated with practicing Mechanical Engineers.
Mechanical engineers are characterized by personal creativity, breadth of knowledge, and versatility. They are also valuable and reliable multidisciplinary team members. The technical subject areas that form the main basis for their work include mechanics, energy transfer and conversion, design and manufacturing, and the engineering sciences. Through clever use of analysis, modeling, design, and synthesis, they solve important problems to improve quality of life.
Mechanical engineers work on teams responsible for developing a wide range of products and systems including, for example, space shuttle vehicles, aircraft of all sizes and shapes, automobiles, turbines, pumps, power plants, and factories. Virtually any machine or process you can think of has benefited from the influence of a mechanical engineer.
Everyday conveniences such as refrigeration, microwave cooking, high-fidelity sound reproduction, transportation, communication, and copying are affordable largely because mechanical and other engineers worked together to make it happen. Mechanical engineers are in demand now, and projections for the future suggest a long-term need for professionals in this specialty. About 20% of the nearly 3 million engineers in the United States are mechanical engineers.
Mechanical Engineering at Iowa State University
The mechanical engineering curriculum at Iowa State University is dedicated to preparing students for productive careers in the state, nation, and the world. The expected accomplishments of our graduates 3-5 years beyond the baccalaureate degree are:
- PEO_1. Graduates will have utilized a foundation in engineering and science to improve lives and livelihoods through a successful career in mechanical engineering or other fields.
- PEO_2. Graduates will have become effective collaborators and innovators, leading or participating in efforts to address social, technical and business challenges.
- PEO_3. Graduates will have engaged in life-long learning and professional development through self-study, continuing education or graduate and professional studies in engineering, business, law or medicine.
The primary constituencies considered when developing the program’s educational objectives were the students, alumni, employers and department faculty. The Mechanical Engineering Curriculum Committee formulated the objective statements above on the basis of a series of faculty retreats, meetings of the Mechanical Engineering Advisory Council, and the work of several committees and sub-committees composed of faculty and students working on curriculum development over a period of three years.
The Department of Mechanical Engineering at Iowa State University has already sent nearly 6000 graduates into the work force. Each year more than 100 men and women complete B.S.M.E. degree requirements and move on to exciting employment opportunities or further formal education.
The faculty of the Department of Mechanical Engineering is a diverse group of professional educators. They include award-winning teachers, best-selling textbook authors, renowned researchers, prominent inventors, leaders of professional technical societies, journal editors, licensed engineers, esteemed designers, and sought-after consultants. This faculty has as its primary goal the mentoring of engineering students. Their productivity is measured in terms of how much they accomplish with their students. When students succeed, the faculty does too.
The Henry M. Black Engineering Building, in use since 1985, provides an excellent home for the department with world class teaching and research laboratories. Continuous improvement of equipment, including computer hardware and software, is a high priority.
Excellence in the classroom has been a longstanding tradition at Iowa State, and the undergraduate degree program in mechanical engineering is among the best in the country.
After you have satisfactorily completed courses in the basic sciences, mathematics, mechanics, and engineering fundamentals, you are eligible for admission to the professional program. Here you can elect, from several options, a specific path leading to a capstone or terminal design course. Options include mechanical system design, heating, ventilating and air conditioning design, internal combustion engine design, and power plant design. Classes are held to a reasonable size to allow for ample student/faculty interaction. Courses are kept relevant through a review and revision system.
A mechanical engineering degree is an excellent foundation for success in the engineering profession and also for further training and subsequent achievement in other disciplines including business, law, and the sciences. Professional opportunities for mechanical engineering graduates are too numerous to list. Our alumni have gone on to attain prominence not only as engineers but also as corporate leaders, professors, inventors, innovators, attorneys, and medical doctors. Our graduates are found throughout the world–in companies ranging from the smallest to the largest in existence.