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Mechanical Engineering Major

Mechanical Engineering Undergraduate Degree

Our traditional Mechanical Engineering major allows the most flexibility for a student to pursue their personal interests within engineering.  Twelve credits of technical electives and a wide variety of team-based senior design projects allow students to either focus on a specific area of interest or explore different areas within mechanical engineering.

Energy Engineering and Science
Riley Allison performs experiments for her heat transfer class.

Program Outcomes:

We expect our students to have the following skills, knowledge, and behaviors by the time of their graduation. We want our students to obtain:

  • An ability to identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics.
  • An ability to apply the engineering design process to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration for public health and safety, and global, cultural, social, environmental, economic, and other factors as appropriate to the discipline.
  • An ability to develop and conduct appropriate experimentation, analyze and interpret data, and use engineering judgment to draw conclusions.
  • An ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences.
  • An ability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgments, which must consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts.
  • An ability to recognize the ongoing need to acquire new knowledge, to choose appropriate learning strategies, and to apply this knowledge.
  • An ability to function effectively as a member or leader of a team that establishes goals, plans tasks, meets deadlines, and creates a collaborative and inclusive environment.

Special note to ME majors graduating in 2023-2024:  ME4124 (CAD of Fluid/Thermal Systems)  will not be taught during Fall 2023 (or Spring 2024).  Students should take one additional List #1 Technical Elective, which will substitute for ME4124.  Please contact your academic advisor if you have questions.

Please see the latest approved Mechanical Engineering checksheet on the Registrar's website to see the most up-to-date list of acceptable electives and Technical Electives by Area of Interest.

Notes on technical electives:

  • A total of 12 credits of technical electives are required for the Mechanical Engineering major; a minimum of 9 credits must be from List #1.
  • Students are required to complete a minimum of 6 credits of List #1 technical electives taught under the ME or NSEG (nuclear engineering) subjects. Students completing an approved minor (including Computer Science, Green Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Engineering Science and Mechanics, and Physics) can have this ME/NSEG subject technical elective requirement waived. Please consult an ME undergraduate advisor for more information.
  • Most techncial electives are taught no more than once per year, so students should start looking at course offerings and prerequisite requirements during their junior year to start planning.
  • It is not guaranteed that a given technical elective will be available during the student’s senior year, so it is also important to have back-up course selections in mind.  
  • Up to 9 credits of technical electives can be taken using the pass/fail grade mode IF the courses are offered with that grading option available.  Some team-based courses, tech electives with high demand and low capacity, and courses that are required for the Automotive Engineering or Robotics and Mechatronics majors may not allow pass/fail grading.  You can check to see if a course is offered P/F by looking for a drop/down box next to the grade mode when registering for a technical elective.  ***Required courses and Pathways electives MUST be taken A/F.***
  • Up to 3 credits of undergraduate research (ME4994) or independent study (ME4974) may be used as technical electives for the Mechanical Engineering major.  A minimum 2.5 overall GPA and 2.0 in-major GPA are required to apply for these courses; students must also have completed ALL required sophomore couress to sign up for these courses.  Sophomore-level undergraduate research and independent study (2994 and 2974) CANNOT be used for technical elective credit.
  • Courses used as technical electives can also double-count towards a minor provided the course(s) are taken in the A/F grade mode.

ME students must participate in a year-long senior design project. Senior design teams are assigned during the first week of classes of the student’s senior year.

Plans for students taking off a semester for paid engineering work experience, study abroad, or other personal reasons:

Plan for students needing a lighter courseload due to ROTC/Corps of Cadet responsibilities or other reasons:

Plans for students behind in the first year courses who were not math-ready or did not follow the suggested courses in the graduation checksheets:

Information on finding equivalent transfer courses and transferring these credits back to VT can be found on the College of Engineering's website.  Students wishing to take courses through a VCCS school should see the VCCS Course Equivalency Guides, the VCCS Physics Equivalencies, and the VCCS combined timetable showing course offerings at all VCCS schools.

Major FAQs

The curriculum requirements for the three Mechanical Engineering majors (ME, AUTE, RBMT) are the same until the junior 2nd semester. At that point, ME students have room to start taking technical electives or continue to take Pathways (humanities) electives.  The ME major gives the most flexibility in course selection, with 12 credits of technical electives instead of only 3 credits of major electives in the AUTE or RBMT majors.

We recommend that students pursue the major in which the curriculum most closely matches what the student wants to do for a career after they graduate. If you are not sure if you want to pursue an automotive career, but still wish to take automotive courses, you can take the required AUTE major courses as tech electives which will count towards your ME major.  The RBMT major required both CS1044 and/or ECE3254 for their required major courses, but ME students may take RBMT courses for which they meet the prerequisites.

Yes, you can. However, you may need to delay graduation in order to fit in all of the requirements for the two degrees. You will need to participate in a senior design project that meets requirements for both majors which means your options may be limited.

A student must complete 30 credits beyond the primary major (159 credits total) to receive a second diploma.  If you are short on credits, you will receive a diploma for your primary major and a certificate for your second major.

If you are interested in double majoring, you should set up a meeting with your ME Advisor to discuss your course plan.

The ME major works well with the UGG accelerated graduate program. If you wait until your senior year to take your technical electives and have been accepted into the UGG program, all 12 credits of technical electives can be double counted towards your graduate degree provided that they meet the program restrictions (up to 6 credits can be 4000-level courses, and the other 6 credits would need be 5000-level courses).  Be sure to consult the ME Graduate Advisor with questions.