Mechanical Engineering, PhD


The mechanical engineering graduate program in the College of Engineering emphasizes in-depth learning and research. In collaboration with faculty across campus, the mechanical engineering faculty are currently researching a diverse range of topics within the field. For more information, see the Department of Mechanical Engineering website.

Design and Uncertainty Quantification

The Design and Uncertainty Quantification focus area is concerned with the design optimization of complex mechanical systems in the presence of uncertainty. The focus area emphasizes developments of sound theoretical foundation, novel computational methods and algorithms, and modern software tools aimed at creating state-of-the-art engineering design of automotive, aerospace, naval, nuclear, and biomedical systems. Current areas of excellence include artificial muscles and smart materials design, ship hydrodynamics, design sensitivity analysis, uncertainty quantification, and reliability-based design optimization.

Fluid Dynamics

The Fluid Dynamics focus area covers a wide variety of topics with flow of liquids and gases as the common denominator. The graduate program in fluid dynamics emphasizes fundamental principles and applications, and the numerical and experimental techniques used to obtain and analyze fluid flows. Areas of concentration include computational fluid dynamics, experimental fluid dynamics, medical flows, naval hydrodynamics, biologically inspired air and underwater vehicles, multiphase flows, cavitation and ventilation, and fluid-structure interaction and turbulence, among others.

Heat Transfer and Combustion

The Heat Transfer and Combustion focus area applies to real-world systems in manufacturing and materials processing, propulsion, energy production, and other areas. The graduate program emphasizes fundamental principles and techniques required for experimental and theoretical research. Current areas of research include solidification of materials, metal casting, 3D printing, laser-materials interaction, power plants and propulsion devices such as automobile and aircraft engines, energy conservation and production, energy storage, complex reactive materials, and machine learning in computational modeling and simulation.

Manufacturing and Materials

The Manufacturing and Materials focus area involves fundamental materials processing science, technological advancement in manufacturing applications, and the development of new manufacturing processes and new material functions. Current and emerging thrust areas include solidification, metal casting, laser materials processing, micro- and nanofabrication, joining, ultrasonic welding, machining, microstructure evolution, manufacturing process modeling and simulation, artificial muscles, artificial camouflage, smart materials, and material characterizations. These research activities are well supported by federal and state agencies and the manufacturing industry.

Robotics, Controls, and Autonomous Systems

Robotics, Controls, and Autonomous Systems (RCAS) are concerned with the modeling, analysis, design, and control of dynamic systems. The graduate program in RCAS emphasizes fundamental principles and techniques of robotics, control theory, and artificial intelligence. Areas of concentration include computational intelligence, dynamic autonomous systems, cyber-physical systems, and networked robotic systems with potential applications in self-driving cars; medical and assistive robots for surgery and rehabilitation; industrial co-robots for human-robot collaboration; and uncrewed aerial, ground, and underwater vehicles.

Solid Mechanics and Multibody Dynamics

Solid Mechanics and Multibody Dynamics are concerned with the behavior of solid materials and flexible bodies, especially their deformation, motion, and stress responses under the action of applied loads. The graduate program in solid mechanics and multibody dynamics emphasizes the theoretical foundations and problem-solving techniques for engineering applications. Current research focuses of the faculty include multiscale mechanics of materials, biomechanics, vehicle dynamics, computational mechanics, multibody dynamics, and optimization.

Learning Outcomes

Graduates will:

  • have extensive knowledge of mechanical engineering topics and mastery of advanced concepts in their specific area of study;
  • be able to identify, formulate, analyze, and solve research problems, thereby advancing knowledge through creative scholarship; and
  • develop professional skills that include effective communication, leadership, and ethical conduct in professional, social, and scholarly activities.