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Mechanical Engineering Undergraduate Program Educational Objectives

Within a few years after graduating from the Mechanical Engineering Department at Virginia Tech, graduates attain:

  • Positions where they utilize fundamental technical knowledge and skills in mathematics, science, and engineering to analyze and solve problems, and where they apply these abilities to generate new knowledge, ideas or products in academia, industry or government.
  • Practical experience and utilize engineering skills, enabling them to interact and communicate effectively (written and/or oral) with others (e.g., supervisor, client and/or team) with regard to the diversity of the stakeholders involved in their work.
  • Roles of increasing responsibility leading to technical expertise and leadership that benefit themselves, their employers and society.
  • Roles in professional and personal life where they demonstrate professional and ethical responsibilities toward peers, employers, and society and follow these precepts in their daily lives.
  • A demonstrated commitment to life-long learning and service – Ut Prosim.
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Virginia Tech has a first-year general engineering program which gives freshmen a chance to decide which engineering major they would like to pursue.  Prospective students can explore engineering, science, and math majors using the Career Cornerstone website.

We encourage prospective students to visit our campus while classes are in session during the Fall or Spring semesters to get the feel of campus.  Suggestions for a visit include:

In addition to attending the departmental information sessions held in the fall, General Engineering Freshmen at Virginia Tech are encouraged to explore their desired major by:

  • attending the freshman information sessions and events organized by the College of Engineering
  • talking to upperclassmen, professors, and career advisors from the departments they are interested in,
  • speaking to potential employers during the two engineering job fairs held at Virginia Tech to find out what engineers do at their companies, and
  • attending student professional society meetings (like ASME) to learn more about their career choices

Freshmen are given free membership to our American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) student chapter and are invited to attend meetings to meet some of our current students and to find out more about our department.

We strongly encourage you to visit the Career and Professional Development Center located in Smith Career Center. The career counselors have a wealth of information on careers in all areas of science and engineering, including salaries, areas of specialization, resume building, and mock interview tutorials. They also host many company visits, career fairs, job opportunity boards, and professional development workshops.

Mechanical Engineering students can pursue a minor in many different subjects, including Entrepreneurship – New Venture Growth.  If required course(s) for the minor overlap with humanities or technical electives for the ME curriculum, students can use those course(s) to cover both requirements.  Check the full list of available minors for more. 

We discourage students from pursuing minors to make themselves “more marketable” to prospective employers unless the minors they choose do not affect their selection of technical electives.  For instance, a math minor could easily be earned by selecting 3 technical electives from the math minor check list, however, if the student really wants to work for an automobile manufacturer, he/she would be better off selecting automotive technical electives, as many automotive-related companies recruit at Virginia Tech and prefer students who have selected related technical electives.

Engineering students who wish to pursue a Business minor (21 credits) are encouraged to either consider majoring in our highly ranked Industrial and Systems Engineering program or consider pursuing a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree after graduation.  An MBA program would be more valuable than a Business minor and wouldn’t take much longer than adding the minor to an already full schedule.

General Engineering students may switch into Mechanical Engineering after they complete the following courses and have a competitive GPA at Virginia Tech:

  • ENGE 1215 (Fundamentals of Engineering)
  • ENGE 1216 (Fundamentals of Engineering)
  • ENGL 1105 (Freshman English)
  • MATH 1225 (Calculus)
  • MATH 1226 (Calculus)

Please see the Engineering Education website for policies for major changes into degree-granting engineering departments.  General Engineering students with a 3.0 cumulative overall grade point average (GPA) are guaranteed entrance into Mechanical Engineering.  

Entrance of non-engineering students into Mechanical Engineering is dependent on available space and is guaranteed with a 3.50 overall GPA and completion of the freshman courses above.  ME courses are restricted to ME majors only.

While not a requirement to get into Mechanical Engineering, it is in the student's best interest to complete all of the other suggested first year courses to stay on track for a 4-year graduation. These courses, which are prerequisites to sophomore and junior-level required ME courses include:

  • PHYS 2305 (Calculus-based Physics)
  • CHEM 1035/1045 (General Chemistry & Chemistry Lab)
  • MATH 2114 (Linear Algebra)
  • ENGL 1106 (Freshman English)

Students who are not able to complete these courses during their freshman year may need to follow an alternate course plan with a possible 5-year graduation if they do not make plans to catch up on key courses. These students are encouraged to contact an undergraduate advisor as soon as possible to get advice on possible summer courses to shorten their time to graduation.

Students starting in General Engineering will be assigned a faculty advisor in the Engineering Education Department.

Students with more specific questions about their intended major or future course plans may contact the academic advisors in the other engineering departments, but are strongly encouraged to ask questions and meet with any advisor well in advance of deadlines – please avoid course request week and the first week of classes if you can ask your questions at a different time.

Students will be given instructions on how to indicate their choice of engineering majors during their Engineering Education courses (ENGE1215, ENGE1216).  Most General Engineering students will transfer into their degree-granting department (like Mechanical Engineering) after the grades from Spring Semester have been posted & they have completed an online major change application through HokieSPA.

For more information on major changes, please see the Engineering Change of Major Information website.  General Engineering students are currently guaranteed a seat in Mechanical Engineering after completing the required freshman courses if they have a 3.0 cumulative overall grade point average (GPA).  Students starting in other majors do not have this guarantee and are encouraged to attend a change of major information session for non-engineering students.

Students who are not originally admitted in the College of Engineering should consider completing an Associate’s Degree at a Virginia Community College and then apply to transfer to Virginia Tech. Please see the Articulation Agreement between the VCCS schools and Virginia Tech for more details on guaranteed admission to the College of Engineering.

Suggested Courses for Students Planning to Transfer to VT from a Virginia Community College System (VCCS) school and Major in Mechanical Engineering

Students with an a associates degree in engineering can often complete their Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering with 5 additional semesters of classes.  Due to the timing of our classes, students with an AS in Engineering starting during a Fall semester often fall into a natural co-op schedule.  Students work summers plus one academic term in a paid engineering-related job to get back in sequence with our senior courses, which are only offered once per year.

Sample course plans for students with an AS degree or who come from a school which offers a “3-2” engineering program should consider the plan below, which assumes that all courses in the white boxes are completed before the student starts at Virginia Tech:

Co-op Course Plan for External Transfers Starting at VT in Fall Semester with VCCS AS in Engineering (ME major)

Spread-Out Course Plan for External Transfers Starting at VT in Fall Semestesr with VCCS AS in Engineering (ME major)

Course Plan for External Transfers Starting at VT in Spring Semestesr with VCCS AS in Engineering (ME major)

Non-engineering students are not guaranteed admittance into the College of Engineering unless they earn a 3.50 overall GPA and complete the required change of major courses listed above. Students wishing to switch into an engineering department should meet with a Transitional Advisor to carefully plan a course schedule to match the courses they would have taken had they started in General Engineering. 

Students starting in majors outside of the College of Engineering will not be able to take the Fundamentals of Engineering course (ENGE1215) during their first semester at Virginia Tech.  Students might be able to sign up for this course during their second semester at Virginia Tech or take an equivalent ENGE 1215 course through a VCCS school.

Non-engineering students may face major restrictions when trying to enroll in other required courses, including some math and science courses which are not required for that student’s major.  Please see the College of Engineering's website for more information for non-engineering students.

Students wishing to transfer into Mechanical Engineering should follow the course selection guidelines outlined for ME students as closely as possible based on their intended ME major: Mechanical Engineering (ME), Automotive Engineering (AUTE), or Robotics and Mechatronics (RBMT). The best way to visualize the prerequisite strings and flow of required courses is through the degree path sheets in the required courses section of that website.

If you are ahead on courses due to transfer or AP credits, we suggest:

  • Getting ahead in required Math courses (MATH2114, MATH2204, MATH2214)
  • Taking other engineering courses whose prerequisites you can meet, including MSE2034 (pre-requisite: CHEM1035; co-requisite: PHYS2305), ESM courses, including ESM2104 (pre-requisite: MATH2114; co-requisite: MATH2204) or ESM2204 & ESM2304 (pre-requisites: ESM2104 and MATH2204)
  • Completing any incomplete Pathway to General Education humanities elective requirements.
  • Taking technical or major electives (see the list of approved list of electives for ME, AUTE, and RBMT students on the checksheets posted on the Registrar’s website.)

While not a requirement to get into Mechanical Engineering, it is in the student's best interest to follow the ME checksheet and complete MATH 2114, PHYS2305, CHEM1035/1045, and ENGL1106 prior to change of major to make a 4-year graduation possible. Students transferring into ME with the minimumum change of major course requirements will likely graduate in 5 years unless they get caught up over summer(s). 

Disclaimer: Information on this website is unofficial. University catalogs and other official documents take precedence over the information that is available here. The material presented here is to aid you in planning your academic program to best fit your interests. Ultimately you are responsible for making sure that you fulfill the graduation requirements. We present these aids to help you achieve your goal of a degree in mechanical engineering.