UC Santa Barbara General CatalogUniversity of California, Santa Barbara

Mechanical Engineering

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Engineering II, Room 2355;
Telephone (805) 893-2430
Web site: www.me.ucsb.edu
Chair: Kimberly Turner
Vice Chair: Jeffrey M. Moehlis


The undergraduate program in mechanical engineering is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, http://www.abet.org. We offer a balanced curriculum of theory and application, involving: preparation in basic science, math, computing and writing; a comprehensive set of engineering science and laboratory courses; and a series of engineering design courses starting in the freshman year and concluding with a three course sequence in the senior year. Our students gain hands-on expertise with state-of-the art tools of computational design, analysis, and manufacturing that are increasingly used in industry, government, and academic institutions. In addition, the Department has a 15-unit elective program which allows students to gain depth in specific areas of interest, while maintaining appropriate breadth in the basic stem areas of the discipline. All students participate in a widely recognized design project program which includes projects sponsored by industry, UCSB researchers, as well as intercollegiate design competitions. The project program has been expanded to emphasize entrepreneurial product-oriented projects.

Mission Statement

We offer an education that prepares our students to become leaders of the engineering profession and one which empowers them to engage in a lifetime of learning and achievement.

Educational Objectives for the Undergraduate Program

It is the objective of the Mechanical Engineering Program to produce graduates who:

  • Successfully practice in either the traditional or the emerging technologies comprising mechanical engineering;
  • Are successful in a range of engineering graduate programs including those in mechanical, environmental and materials engineering;
  • Have a solid background in the fundamentals of engineering allowing them to pass the Fundamentals of Engineering examination;
  • Are active in professional societies.

In order to achieve these objectives, the Department of Mechanical Engineering is engaged in a very ambitious effort to lead the discipline in new directions that will be critical to the success of 21st century technologies. While maintaining strong ties to stem areas of the discipline, we are developing completely new cross-cutting fields of science and engineering related to topics such as: microscale engineering and microelectrical-micromechanical systems; dynamics and controls and related areas of sensors, actuators and instrumentation; advanced composite materials and smart structures; computation, simulation and information science; advanced energy and transportation systems; and environmental monitoring, modeling and remediation.

Program Outcomes

Upon graduation, students in the mechanical engineering B.S. degree program:

  1. Should possess a solid foundation in, and be able to apply the principles of, mathematics, science,and engineering to solve problems and have the ability to learn new skills relevant to his/her chosen career.
  2. Have the ability to conduct and analyze data from experiments in dynamics, fluid dynamics, thermal science and materials, and should have been exposed to experimental design in at least one of these areas.
  3. Should have experienced the use of current software in problem solving and design.
  4. Should demonstrate the ability to design useful products, systems, and processes.
  5. Should be able to  work effectively on teams.
  6. Should have an understanding of professional and ethical responsibilities.
  7. Should be able to write lab reports and design reports and give effective oral presentations.
  8. Should have the broad background in the humanities and the social sciences, which provides an awareness of contemporary issues and facilitates an understanding of the global and societal impact of engineering problems and solutions.
  9. Should be a member of or participate in a professional society.

Under the direction of the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies, academic advising services are jointly provided by advisors in the College of Engineering, as well as advisors in the department. In addition, departmental advisors are assigned to all students in the freshman year. A faculty advisor assists the students in the selection of departmental elective courses and provides counseling to students on a variety of issues related to their academic experience. Individual faculty are also available for help in program planning and professional development. Undergraduate students enrolled in other majors at UCSB who plan to change to a major in the Department of Mechanical Engineering should obtain counseling from the departmental academic advisor.

The department offers programs leading to the degrees of Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy, with a specialization in any of the following major areas: dynamical systems and controls; computational science and engineering; solid mechanics and structures, thermo-fluid sciences and materials; micro/nanoscale science (including MEMS). The curricula for all of the major areas emphasize education in broad principles and fundamentals. At the same time, programs of study and research are flexible and tailored to accommodate the individual needs and interests of the students. Interdisciplinary approaches are stressed, and students are encouraged to cross over traditional boundaries into other departments.

Qualified students who wish to pursue advanced engineering education may apply to the M.S. or Ph.D. programs. The M.S. program is intended to extend and broaden the undergraduate background and equip practicing engineers with state-of-the-art knowledge in their field. The degree may be terminal or obtained on the way to the Ph.D. The Ph.D. program is designed to prepare students for careers in research and/or teaching in their area of specialization. A faculty supervisor and the graduate advisor, in conjunction with a graduate studies committee, direct the program of studies for M.S. and Ph.D. candidates.

 Mechanical engineering graduates at all levels are highly sought after by the automotive, aircraft, marine, defense, electronics, and materials manufacturing industries.

Laboratory Facilities

Well-equipped teaching and research laboratories can be used to conduct experimental and computational research in many areas.

Teaching Laboratories

The laboratories listed below are a combination of facilities available permanently and those that are set up as necessary for the work of specific classes.

  1. Basic Circuits. This laboratory focuses on basic electrical and electronic circuit design.  Experiments give the students practical experience with Kirchhoff’s Laws, phasor analysis, operational amplifiers, and transistor circuits in the context of how these might be used in mechanical systems. 
  2. Sensors and Actuators. This laboratory introduces students to the basics of interfacing mechanical and electrical systems and mechatronics, including  computer control of sensors and actuators.  Experiments use transducers and measurements devices, actuators, A/D and D/A conversion, signal conditioning, and filtering.  
  3. General Mechanical Engineering Laboratory. This intermediate laboratory builds skills centered on the practice, design, and reporting of experimental work. The use of a broad range of sensors for thermoscience, fluid mechanics, solid mechanics, materials science and environmental engineering is explored in the design and implementation of laboratory measurements. Reporting of experiments is practiced in formal technical writing.
  4. Controls and Dynamics Laboratory.  This laboratory emphasizes physical modeling from first principles in the context of experiments.  Students learn to implement, commission, and test control systems for real dynamic problems using an integrated approach that includes dynamic analysis and simulation as well as design and implementation of the control strategy.
  5. Computer Aided Design Laboratory. The laboratory makes modern computers and engineering software available to students. The lab contains 20 Pentium workstations and 12 UNIX workstations. All computers are networked to the lab’s printers, plotters, and other peripherals. Engineering packages available include ProEngineer, ANSYS, Mechanica, MatLab, Mathematica, Abaqus/CAE and Solidworks engineering packages along with  several other design and analysis packages. Several analysis and educational packages are also provided. The lab is used in conjunction with the department’s CAD/CAM curriculum, and computers are available to the students for other class work.
  6. Computer Aided Manufacturing Laboratory. This laboratory gives students practical experience with modern manufacturing techniques. The major equipment in the lab consists of computer controlled milling machines and a CNC lathe. Students learn to program and operate the tools, and to automatically translate CAD drawings on the PC into finished parts on the machines. Drawing files can be transferred directly from computers in the CAD laboratory to the machine in the shop. Equipment is available for the design and construction of simple controlled tools by the students.
  7. Student Machine Shop.  The student machine shop is well-equipped and is accessible by the undergraduates once they have passed a safety test.  It is used extensively by the students in the capstone design project course ME189, the junior design course ME153. ME12S and ME158 labs take place in the shop. The student machine shop has the following tools: seven lathes, five milling machines, one CNC lathe and one CNC milling machine, facilities for welding, brazing, soldering and heat treating, and tools for fabricating sheet metal components.8. Design Studio. The design studio is set up to provide project teams a space for group meetings and equipped with tools and work benches for prototype assembly and testing.  The studio has workbenches for mechanical and electronic assembly and testing, and basic instruments for temperature, force, pressure measurement and calibration. Workbenches and storage areas is available for project teams.

Research Laboratories

  1. Microscale Thermal Processing Laboratory (Bennett). Research conducted in the Microscale Thermal Processing Lab involves the thermal management of small-scale systems in both fabrication and device operation. The lab research is conducted at the apex where technology and science meet. The goal of the lab is to advance both fundamental understanding and processing technology in thermal science. Some current topics of research include: non-classical behavior of vaporization kinetics in pulsed laser deposition of thin film; developing laser based techniques for fabricating surface nanotexture for tribological enhancement of disk-drive storage media; and studying thermal asperities, which are disturbances in the computer-head readback signal arising from thermal fluctuations in the magnetoresistive element.
  2. Materials Reliability and Performance Laboratory (Odette).  The theme of the research supported by the MRPL is to assess and improve the ability of materials to sustain long-term, high-performance operation in hostile environments, often associated with advanced aerospace and energy systems.  Complemented by other on- and off-campus facilities and an extensive network of national and international collaborating institutions, the MRPL provides the capability to expose materials to conditions involving various combinations of high stress and temperature, chemically reactive gases and fluids and high-energy radiation fields. The durability of the materials under these challenging conditions, as well as routes to achieving better performance, are assessed by combining microstructural characterization down to the atomic scale, with specialized tools that relate the substructure to materials failure processes.  Characterization tools accessible through the MRPL include radiation scattering (neutrons, electrons and x-rays) electron microscopy; positron annihilation and tomographic atom probe techniques. The MRPL also provides unique capabilities for in situ observation of deformation and fracture of damaged materials, including tomographic image reconstruction methods. The MRPL has pioneered automated testing as well as advanced methods for extracting mechanical property information from small to microscale volumes of material, including biopsies from operating structures.
  3. Computational Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (Meiburg).  Research in the CFD Laboratory focuses on large-scale simulations of complex flow-fields and related nonlinear dynamical systems, as well as on computationally intensive hydrodynamic stability problems. A 20-processor SGI Origin computer represents the main computational resource. In addition, a range of UNIX and LINUX workstations are available for pre- and post-processing purposes.
  4. Microfluidics Laboratory (Meinhart).  In the Microfluidics Laboratory research is conducted in two primary areas:  development of BioMEMS and the investigation of fluid mechanics at the microscale. In the BioMEMS area, the research group is teaming with groups in ECE and ThauMDx (a local biotechnology company) to develop a fully integrated laser-based immunoassay and molecular diagnostic sensor.  In the microfluidics lab, fluid flow in devices with length scales of order one to one hundred microns is studied.  Interests include developing micron resolution particle image velocimetry (micro-PIV), micro-mixing devices and protocols, particle manipulation using dielectrophoresis (DEP) and optical tweezers, and analysis of boundary conditions at the microscale.
  5. Thermal-Fluid Sciences and Rheology Laboratory (Matthys).  The work conducted in this laboratory focuses on fluid mechanics, heat transfer, and materials issues.  Excellent experimental facilities are available. Non-Newtonian fluids such as polymer and surfactant solutions are investigated. Studies range from fundamental rheological investigations of molecular assembly dynamics to the practical development of new energy conservation technologies based on friction-reducing additives. Other areas of work include fluid mechanics and materials issues in biology applications; and transport phenomena in materials processing involving melting and solidification.
  6. Mechanical Testing Laboratory (Odette).  The MTL is a state of the art facility for characterization of the properties of advanced materials and structures, including composites, ceramics and alloys for aerospace and energy applications, biomaterials, smart materials systems, electronic packaging and microscale structures.  An array of computer controlled mechanical testing devices and associated instrumentation and data acquisition systems forms the core of the facility.  The focus of the MTL is on studies of deformation, fracture and fatigue, with the capability to simulate complex loading conditions in controlled environments over a wide range of temperatures, from cryogenic to 2000C.  Unique capabilities for in situ observations of deformation and fracture have also been developed, as well as some specialized facilities for materials processing and fabrication and studies of high loading rate fracture.  Research in the MTL is supported by a large number of other experimental and computational laboratories housed in other College departments and centers. The MTL is used by a large number of researchers from a number of UCSB departments.
  7. Structural Materials Processing Laboratory (Levi).  This multi-user laboratory features an array of state-of-the-art equipment for producing alloys, ceramics, intermetallics and composites in bulk, coating or thin film forms, and for studying the influence of process variables on materials structure and performance.  Specialized facilities include a dedicated unit for the synthesis of thermal barrier coatings by electron beam physical vapor deposition, a multi-source e-beam evaporator for deposition of alloys and multi-layer coatings and thin films; equipment for manufacturing advanced, porous-matrix continuous-fiber ceramic composites; squeeze casting; tape casting of ceramics and rapid solidification processing.  In addition, the laboratory has facilities for alloy preparation under controlled environments, for powder processing and densification under high temperature/high pressure, furnaces for heat treatments and cyclic oxidation testing, and equipment for characterization of microstructure and properties.
  8. Microsystems Characterization Laboratory (Turner). The Microsystems Characterization Laboratory consists of cutting edge tools necessary for the fields of MEMS and Nanosystems. The primary function is to accurately measure the quasi-static and dynamic motion of MEMS and nano-systems. It consists of a laser Doppler vibrometer (LDV) based measurement system, capable of measuring the motion of MEMS devices from 0-1.5 MHz, with a displacement resolution of <10nm. Devices can be tested either using electrical probes or in packages. The suite is controlled by LabView. Additionally, there is a wafer probe station and an Olympus Provis optical microscope for research use. Windows NT workstations are available for doing MEMS modeling and fabrication as well.
  9. Center for Risk Studies and Safety (Theofanous). Research in this lab focuses on turbulence and transport phenomena in multiphase systems, with particular reference to processes that are significant to environmental concerns, such as chemical and nuclear plant safety and waste management technologies. These experiments typically involve intense multiphase interactions under highly transient and rarely experienced settings. The primary experiments include: two hydrodynamic shock tubes for steam explosion research, apparatus for mixing hot particle clouds with coolants, an experiment to study natural convection at high Raleigh numbers, apparatus to study the critical heat flux in large-scale inverted geometry systems, and an experiment for the study of low gravity boiling and the effect of surfactants on critical heat flux. Instrumentation in the lab includes an infrared high-speed camera, a flash x-ray for quantitative radiography, high speed video and film cameras and high temperature melt-handling facilities. This work also involves large-scale numerical simulations, which are integrated toward achieving a significant practical contribution. Multi-scale numerical modeling is undertaken from the lattice Boltzman methods, to direct numerical simulations, to large-scale multifield models.
  10. MEMS/NEMS Processing Laboratory (MacDonald, Turner, Soh). The MicroElectroMechanical Systems/NanoElectroMechanical Systems Processing Laboratory (MEMS/NEMS processing laboratory) is a semiconductor-processing laboratory for making MEMS/NEMS sensors, actuators, micro-instruments and ‘biochips’.  The emphasis is single crystal, silicon processing on 8” diameter silicon wafers, and materials integration of compound semiconductors, ceramics, metals and polymers on silicon. The laboratory processing equipment includes an Applied Materials Centura Platform with three independent reactive-ion-etch (RIE) chambers with a common 8” wafer-handler.  One chamber is dedicated to RIE etching of silicon; the second chamber is a RIE silicon dioxide etcher; and the third RIE etcher is for high-aspect-ratio etching of nm-scale features in silicon. The wafers are loaded and sequenced by computer-controlled wafer handlers.  Additional 8” silicon processing tools include Optical Lithography (130 nm, MFS) and a three tube oxidation furnace: one standard oxidation tube (~1 Micrometer SiO2 thickness) and one tube for growing thick, ~15 micrometers thick silicon dioxide layers and the third tube for CVD processing. Support processes include optical lithography processing, wafer bonding and wet processing of 8” silicon wafers.  A suite of characterization tools include time-resolved field emission electron microscopy, a computer-controlled laser vibrometer and optical microscope on a robotic arm for measuring real time MEMS/NEMS velocity and nm-scale displacements, an Atomic Force Microscope, and capacitance and conductance/voltage instruments. Additional tools to store and process Bio samples will be added for Bio-related MEMS/NEMS research. The new MEMS/NEMS laboratory complements and extends the tools and processes available at the UCSB NSF/NUNN laboratory that is located in the same building.
  11. Computational Materials Facilities (Beltz, Gibou, McMeeking, Milstein).  A network of workstations within the Department and College as well as high-speed access to major national computing facilities supports the rapidly growing area of computational materials. Computational Materials research in Mechanical Engineering employs a variety of advanced simulation techniques such as finite element methods, molecular dynamics, Monte Carlo and large scale differential equation solvers. The College-wide Computational Science and Engineering Program also supports these activities.
  12. Computational Science and Engineering Laboratory (Gibou, Petzold). Research in this lab focuses on the development and application of innovative computational methods and software for simulation and analysis of a wide range of engineering and scientific problems.   Current research addresses efficient methods for discrete stochastic and multiscale simulation, sensitivity analysis, model reduction, single and multiphase flows, viscoelastic flows and complex fluids, image processing and effective use of high performance computer architectures.  The research features multidisciplinary collaboration in areas including fluids, materials, biology, computer science, psychology, and medicine.