Mechanical Engineering Major Guide for 2013-2014

What is Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical engineering is the application of the laws of solid and fluid mechanics and the thermal sciences to the analysis, design and/or manufacturing of systems and products. Mechanical engineers play a key role in national, state and local economies by bringing their expertise in the development of power generation systems (such as steam turbines, jet engines and internal combustion engines) which provide mechanical power to all segments of society. They also bring essential expertise to manufacturing processes, efficient production methods and automation vital to the well-being of the national economy. Their expertise and involvement in the analysis, design and development of new products and materials for new devices and systems produce economic activity and provide employment opportunities which sustain high standards of living.  The mechanical engineering program at UT offers fundamental education in the engineering sciences and engineering design. The engineering science component educates students in the fundamental principles of engineering, while the engineering design component emphasizes design methodology, enhances creative skills and develops student ability to solve open ended problems of the type common to industry.

The undergraduate experience is broad-based and includes, in the first two years, general education in mathematics, sciences and preliminary design courses that are common with curricula in other engineering programs. The discipline of a rigorous technical program along with education in the humanities and social sciences provides a good foundation for a rich and rewarding career in a dynamic marketplace.

The objectives of the mechanical engineering degree program are:
• to prepare students for professional careers by developing their skills in problem formulation, problem solving, analysis, computation, synthesis, teamwork and effective communication
• to teach students the underlying principles of mechanical and thermal systems and the application of these principles in the design process
• to instill in students an appreciation for the importance of lifelong learning, individual professionalism and ethical practice
• to prepare capable students for graduate study at major universities

The university’s engineering programs are fully accredited by the ABET Engineering Accreditation Program.

Career Opportunities in Mechanical Engineering

Because of the broad-based education received in mechanical engineering, mechanical engineers play a vital role in a wide variety of industries (e.g., aerospace, automotive, electronics, power utilities, chemical, petroleum, textile, manufacturing); federal agencies (e.g., NASA, DOE, DOD, FAA); consulting firms, national laboratories (e.g., ORNL, SANDIA). In these different sectors, mechanical engineers are involved in analysis and design of systems and products; manufacturing, automation and control of production and processes; heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems; and research. Mechanical engineers are also found at every level of management. Mechanical engineers have been and will continue to be in great demand in all of the areas listed above. A good resource is the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook http://stats.bls.gov/oco/ocos027.htm.

High School Preparation

The College of Engineering has established admissions criteria for incoming freshmen based on several performance criteria, including completion of core academic subjects, GPA scores on these subjects and standardized test (SAT or ACT) scores. A Success Prediction Indicator (SPI) number of 60 and a math ACT of 25 or a math SAT of 570 are minimum standards used for admission to the College of Engineering. The admitted class may also be limited by space available in the College. The SPI is calculated by adding an individual’s ACT mathematics score to 10 times their core high school GPA (based on a 4.0 scale). For information on what constitutes core high school courses, please consult admission website http://admissions.utk.edu/undergraduate/apply/requirements.shtml.

SPI EXAMPLE: A student with a high school core GPA of 3.5 and an ACT mathematics score of 28 would have an SPI of 63 using the formula (3.5 X 10) + 28 = 63. SAT scores are converted to an equivalent ACT score to perform this calculation.

Students who wish to pursue a degree in the College of Engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, but do not meet the college admission criterion may enroll as Arts and Sciences Exploratory students and complete appropriate mathematics, science, and other courses before applying for admission to the College of Engineering as an internal transfer student.

How to Major in Mechanical Engineering

The mechanical engineering degree program is administered by the UT Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering (MABE). Students applying to the university should specify mechanical engineering as their chosen major when completing the admission form. Students transferring from other departments within UT or from other educational institutions should contact the department for more information regarding the appropriate entry level and any additional required courses.

Requirements for Mechanical Engineering

The MABE department currently does not have any special requirements for admission to the mechanical engineering program, other than the general admission requirements for the university and the college.  College of Engineering students are required to own personal computers for class work.  For more information, please visit http://www.engr.utk.edu/futurestudents/computers.html.

Special Programs, Co-ops, and Internships

All UT freshman engineering students are automatically enrolled in the innovative Engage Engineering Fundamentals Program, designed to help students learn basic engineering concepts and teamwork skills through a series of hands-on projects and activities: http://ef.engr.utk.edu/efd

The College of Engineering’s Office of Professional Practice (EPP) provides income-generating opportunities for engineering students to experience real-world engineering challenges through cooperative education (co-op) and internship programs. Both programs offer structured learning environments where students develop increasing responsibilities by holding full-time paid positions in a professional environment related to their academic and career goals: www.coop.utk.edu

In addition to financial and scholarship programs available to all students, the college also provides special scholarships and support programs to minority students, including:
• Engineering Diversity Programs Office (EDP) http://www.engr.utk.edu/diversity/
• Tennessee Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (TLSAMP) www.engr.utk.edu/tlsamp.

The College of Engineering also participates in the University Honors Program, which is designed to give academically outstanding students a unique undergraduate experience consisting of special courses, seminars, mentoring and research projects.  All majors in Engineering have Honors Concentrations http://www.engr.utk.edu/academics/honors.html.

The UT Center for International Education collaborates with Engineering to create opportunities for engineering students to study in other countries: http://studyabroad.utk.edu/.

Highlights of Mechanical Engineering

Students in mechanical engineering are provided with many design experiences that build on previous exposure to elements of design and culminates in capstone project classes. This experience has resulted in numerous championships for UT teams in both regional and national competitions.

Ready for the World logoReady for the World

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, offers study abroad programs in Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, South America, and North America. Program lengths vary from mini-term trips to the entire academic year, and students may choose to fulfill general education requirements, study a foreign language, or take courses within their majors. In addition, UTK offers students opportunities for international internships.

Students are highly encouraged to begin planning early in their academic career and to consult with an academic advisor about the best time to study abroad as well as what courses to take abroad. For more information about program options, the application process, and how to finance study abroad, please visit the Programs Abroad Office website.

For more information about opportunities for majors in the College of Engineering, please see the section of the Engineering Outreach Office website which highlights study abroad programs for engineering students.

Learn more about UT’s Ready for the World initiative to help students gain the international and intercultural knowledge they need to succeed in today’s world.

Academic Plan and Milestones

Following an academic plan will help students stay on track to graduate in four years. Beginning with first-time, first-year, full-time, degree-seeking students entering in the Fall 2013 semester, UT has implemented Universal Tracking (uTrack), an academic monitoring system designed to help students stay on track for timely graduation. In order to remain on track, students must complete the minimum requirements for each tracking semester, known as milestones. Milestones may include successful completion of specified courses and/or attainment of a minimum GPA.

To see a sample academic plan and milestones for this major, go to Mechanical Engineering in the Undergraduate Catalog (catalog.utk.edu).

Honors Mechanical Engineering Concentration

In addition to satisfying the requirements for the mechanical engineering major, candidates for the honors mechanical engineering concentration must also complete the following  requirements.

  • First-year courses for honors concentrations in the engineering majors. (Note: Most of the honors requirements are course substitutions for the mechanical engineering major.)
  • Two upper-division honors courses in mechanical engineering (ME 367 , ME 397 , ME 477 ).
  • A minimum of 3-credit hours of an honors senior design course. This requirement is normally satisfied as part of the senior capstone design course (ME 460 ).

Five-Year BS/MS Mechanical Engineering Program


The department offers a 5 year BS-MS program for qualified students. The primary component of the program is that qualified students may take up to 9 hours of approved graduate courses for their senior undergraduate electives and have them count toward both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Tennessee. This program is designed for students attending the University of Tennessee for their Master of Science degree because other universities may not accept these courses for graduate credit since they were used to satisfy requirements for the Bachelor of Science degree. Significant components of the program are:

  • Students must have an overall GPA of at least 3.4 to be admitted to the program. Conditional admission may be granted after completing 64 hours of required course work while full admission is granted after completing 96 hours of required course work with a minimum overall GPA of 3.4 in required course work.
  • Students must at least have conditional admission before taking graduate courses for both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees. All courses taken for graduate credit must be approved by the departmental chair of the program. Students admitted to the program must request permission from the Graduate School to take approved courses for graduate credit. Students admitted to the program must also follow the normal procedure for admission to the Graduate School.
  • Admission of students into this program must be approved by the department and the Graduate School.
  • Students will not be eligible for graduate assistantships until they are enrolled as graduate-level students in the Graduate School.