The objective of the undergraduate program in Mechanical Engineering at Caltech is to produce graduates who will attain careers and higher education that ultimately lead to leadership roles in academia, industry, and government in areas of rapidly advancing interdisciplinary technology related to fluid, solid, thermal, and mechanical systems.
The program prepares students for graduate school and professional practice and inspires them to undertake careers that provide an opportunity to address the pressing technological needs of society. Specifically, the program builds on Caltech’s core curriculum to combine individual depth of experience and competence in a particular chosen mechanical engineering specialty with a strong background in the basic and engineering sciences. It maintains a balance between classroom lectures and laboratory and design experience, and emphasizes the problem-formulation and solving skills that are essential to any engineering discipline. The program also strives to develop in each student self-reliance, creativity, leadership, professional ethics, and the capacity for continuing professional and intellectual growth. For interested students, there are opportunities to conduct research with a faculty member.
The outcome of the undergraduate program is to prepare the student to build on a fundamental education in physics, mathematics, chemistry, and biology and to apply those principles to the solution of open-ended engineering problems; to design, analyze, measure, and evaluate fluid, thermal, and mechanical systems; to work effectively as part of a team; to communicate effectively; to apply ethical considerations; and to understand the broader impacts of engineering developments, including societal, cultural and environmental concerns.
Mechanical engineering is the branch of engineering that is generally concerned with understanding forces and motion, and their application to solving problems of interest to society. The field includes aspects of thermodynamics, fluid and solid mechanics, mechanisms, materials, and energy conversion and transfer, and involves the application of physics, mathematics, chemistry, and increasingly, biology and computer science. Importantly, the field also emphasizes the process of formulation, design, optimization, manufacture, and control of new systems and devices.
Technical developments in the last decade have established the importance of interdisciplinary engineering and science, and as a result, new technical disciplines within mechanical engineering have emerged. These new areas build on an understanding of the fundamental behavior of physical systems; however, the focus of this work is at the interfaces between traditional disciplines. Examples of the new disciplines include micro- and nano-mechanical systems, simulation and synthesis, integrated complex distributed systems, and biological engineering.
Mechanical engineers can be found in many fields, including automotive, aerospace, materials processing and development, power production, consumer products, robotics and automation, semiconductor processing, and instrumentation. Mechanical engineering can also be the starting point for careers in bioengineering, environmental and aeronautical engineering, finance, and business management.
The Mechanical Engineering Option is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, 111 Market Place, Suite 1050, Baltimore, MD 21202-4012, (410) 347-7700.
At the end of the first year, students who elect the Mechanical Engineering Option are assigned advisers as close to their expressed field of interest as possible, and together they develop programs of study for the next three years.
A student whose interests relate to mechanical engineering, but who wishes to pursue a broader course of study than that allowed by the requirements below, may elect the Engineering and Applied Science Option.
Attention is called to the fact that any student whose grade-point average is less than 1.9 at the end of the academic year in the required courses listed below may be refused permission to continue work in this option.
ME Option Requirements
- Technical communication: SEC 10 and one of SEC 11, SEC 12, or SEC 13.
- Mathematics: Ma 2, ACM 95 ab, and 9 units selected from Ma 3, Ma/CS 6 a, ACM/IDS 104, or other ACM courses numbered 100 and above.
- Physics: 18 units selected from Ph 2 abc.
- Computing: 9 units selected from ACM 11, CS 1, CS 2, CS 11.
- ME Core: ME 10, ME 11 abc, ME 12 abc, ME 13, ME 14, ME 40, and ME 50 ab.
- Capstone design: ME 72 ab or ME 90 abc or CS/EE/ME 75 abc.*
- 45 units of advanced engineering electives selected from a list of approved courses or from courses pre-approved by the Option Representative. 27 units must be from one track (depth requirement) and at least 9 units from two other tracks (breadth requirement).**
- Courses satisfying requirements 1 through 7 must be taken for grades, unless they are only offered pass/fail.
* Students electing CS/EE/ME 75abc must complete at least 18 units distributed amongst all three quarters
** These courses are selected in consultation with the student’s adviser and typically taken in the third and fourth years. Please consult the Mechanical and Civil Engineering website and / or the adviser for further information.
ME Typical Course Schedule
|Units per term|
|Ma 2||Differential Equations||9||-||-|
|ME 10||Thinking Like an Engineer||1||-||-|
|ME 11 abc||Thermal Science||9||9||9|
|ME 12 abc||Mechanics||9||9||9|
|ME 13||Mechanical Prototyping||-||4||-|
|ME 14||Design and Fabrication||-||-||9|
|ACM 95 ab||Intro. Meth. Applied Math.||-||12||12|
|ME 50 ab||Exp. and Modeling in ME||-||9||9|
|ME 40||Dimensional and data analysis in engineering||9||-||-|
|one of SEC 11-13||Written Communication||-||3||-|
|Advanced ME Electives||18||18||9|