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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:
Chair: Jeff Moehlis
Vice Chair: Alban Sauret


The undergraduate program in mechanical engineering is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, 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 broad range of engineering graduate programs;
  • Have a solid background in the fundamentals of engineering allowing them to pass the Fundamentals of Engineering examination;
  • Engage in life-long learning opportunities such as professional workshops and activity 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) and bioengineering and systems biology. 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. Bamieh Research Laboratory (Bamieh) The Bamieh group’s research areas include Control and Dynamical Systems, Networks and Spatially Distributed Control Systems, and Fluid Mechanics.
  2. Beyerlein Research Laboratory (Beyerlein) The Beyerlein group aims to radically improve the mechanical performance of advanced materials via multiscale understanding of processing-microstructure-property relationships. Current research brings together multiscale modeling, experimentation, and theory to guide the design of materials manufacturing processes or microstructures for target properties.
  3. Begley Research Laboratory (Begley) The Begley group’s research focuses on field assisted 3D printing, lattice materials via 3D printing, simulating materials with evolving microstructure and damage, and bio-inspired materials: flexible structural capacitors inspired by electric fish, hierarchical ordered materials, tensegrity structures, and field-assisted materials assembly.
  4. Control of Network Systems Laboratory (Bullo) Work performed in the laboratory focuses on modeling, analysis and control of multi-agent systems and complex networks.Application are drawn from the study of robotic and multi-vehicle coordination, infrastructure networks, distributed computing and optimization, power networks, sensor/actuator networks, and social networks.
  5. Campas Research Laboratory (Campas) The Campas group is broadly interested in morphogenesis and self-organization of living systems, regardless of the particular organism or scale. The group works to identify general principles of self-organization in living matter, with the goal of eventually understanding the fundamental differences if self-organization in inert versus living systems. Current interests span several topics such as embryonic development, tissue growth, cell shape, and morphological variation.
  6. Advanced Mechanics of Materials Laboratory (Daly) The Daly group specializes in the application of experimental mechanics to materials science in an effort to characterize, design, and develop advanced materials. The group investigates the mechanics of materials, fatigue, fracture, creep, composites, multi-functional materials, and advanced experimental techniques with a focus on novel approaches for small-scale characterization and the use of large data and statistical approaches to characterize microstructure-property interactions.
  7. Bio-Inspired Fluid Flow Laboratory (Dressaire) The Dressaire research group aims at developing bio-inspired solutions to control and sense fluid flows at small scales. Organisms living in moving fluids have evolved a variety of strategies to repel water, swim, filter and sense their environment. Understanding the physical principles why a biological system has selected a given approach to interact with the surrounding fluid provides a new paradigm to design surfaces and engineer processes that can control and sense the flow of complex fluids.
  8. Gibou Research Laboratory (Gibou) The Gibou group’s research focuses on the design and the applications of new high resolution multiscale computational algorithms for a variety of applications including: materials science, multiphase flows at the micro/nanoscale, computer vision with the emphasis on the segmentation of medical images and computer graphics.
  9. Hawkes Research Laboratory (Hawkes) The Hawkes group’s research focuses on the intersection of design, mechanics, and materials. The group develops novel mechanisms and applies non-traditional materials to solve challenging problems in robotics, medicine, and biomechanics.
  10. Structural Materials Processing Laboratory (Levi) The Levi group’s research focuses on the fundamental understanding of microstructure evolution, with emphasis on structural alloys and ceramics, and the application of this understanding to the chemical and microstructural design of coatings, composites and monolithic systems. There is a concentration on materials which would enable more efficient and environmentally cleaner energy and transportation technologies. The group also has interest on metastable structures evolving from processes characterized by large departures from equilibrium, starting with rapid solidification and currently emphasizing vapor deposition and synthesis of inorganics from precursors.
  11. Transport for Energy Applications Laboratory (Liao) The Liao group develops computational and experimental tools to "see" the details of energy transport and conversion processes at the smallest time and length scales. The group is also passionate about translating knowledge from these fundamental studies into more efficient and cost-effective sustainable energy technologies that help reduce carbon emission and secure our energy needs in the future.
  12. Fluid Energy Science Laboratory (Luzzatto-Fegiz) The FESLab pursues a wide range of research in theoretical, experimental, and computational fluid mechanics. The group focuses on fundamental problems that are motivated by strong practical applications in the field of energy production or conservation. Through research the group seeks advances in fundamental understanding that have the potential to drive paradigm shifts, thereby enabling key technological advances.
  13. 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.
  14. Meinhart Research Laboratory (Meinhart) The Meinhart group seeks to develop and utilize experimental and numerical simulation techniques to understand the physics of transport phenomena at the micro and nano scales. Currently research projects include combining surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy with microfluidics to develop chemical sensors with extremely high sensitivity and specificity. In particular, we are working in the AIM Photonics Center to combine microfluidics, plasmonics, and photonics to develop fully integrated Raman spectrometers.
  15. Dynamical Systems and Nonlinear Control Laboratory (Mezic) Current research is centered around operator-theoretic approach to analysis of nonlinear dynamical systems, applications in microfluidics and (bio)-nanotechnology.
  16. McMeeking Research Group (McMeeking) The McMeeking group’s research focuses on mechanics of materials, exploiting theoretical and computational methods to understand structural and functional performance of engineering materials. Recent research has been on lithium ion batteries, biological cell mechanics, ballistic impact on ceramics, microstructural evolution, ferroelectric systems, utilization of high temperature materials composed of ceramics and ceramic composites, actuating and shape morphing structures, protection of structures from high intensity blast waves and accompanying shrapnel, and thermal barrier coatings for gas turbine blades.
  17. Moehlis Research Laboratory (Moehlis) The Moehlis group’s research focuses in biological dynamics: control of neural population and natural and artificial swarms, Fluid Dynamics: shear flow turbulence, Mechanical Systems: theoretical analysis of individual and coupled MEMS devices and vibrational energy harvesting, Networks: information propagation through social networks and collective decision making, and Dynamical Systems: bifurcation theory and canards.
  18. Pennathur Research Laboratory (Pennathur) The research in the Pennathur Laboratory is focused on novel studies of chemical and biological species using fabricated micro- and nanoscale devices. Major efforts include, general electrokinetics, creating and developing enabling micro- and nanofluidic tools to identify and characterize chemical and biological compounds, improving current bionalaytical devices, and designing/engineering entire systems for point-of-care usage.
  19. Computational Science and Engineering Research Group (Petzold) The Petzold group’s research is focused on modeling, analysis, simulation and software, applied to multiscale, networked systems in biology, materials and social networks. The group has been developing advanced algorithms for discrete stochastic simulation of systems where the fate of a few key molecules can make a big difference to important outcomes.
  20. Pruitt research Laboratory (Pruitt) The Pruitt lab develops mircotechnologies for small-scale electromechanical and mechanbiology measurements to study how mechanics mediates biological signaling. The group leverages new tools and answer novel questions in the areas of physiology, biology, stem cells, neuroscience, and cardiology with eye towards quantitative and fundamental biophysics.
  21. Multiphase and Multiscale Flow Laboratory (Sauret) The M&M Lab focuses on the complex couplings between fluids and particles, which are involved in environmental fluid mechanics and industrial processes. Understanding such systems requires multi-scale methods to bridge the particle scale and the macroscopic flow. The group’s work involves a multidisciplinary approach through experiments, analytical modeling and numerical simulations.
  22. Design for Humans Laboratory (Susko) Lab D4H is a space reserved for undergraduates and master-level students to develop machines and products that enhance the human experience with the goal of fostering students’ passion to create meaningful projects while introducing students to research and independent product development.
  23. Molecular & Cellular Biomechanics, Biomaterials, and Bioadhesion Laboratory (Valentine) The Valentine research group focuses on understanding how forces are generated and transmitted in living materials, how these forces control cellular outcomes, and how we can capture the extraordinary features of living systems in manmade materials. This highly interdisciplinary experimental work lies at the intersection of engineering, physics, biology and chemistry.
  24. Yeung Research Laboratory (Yeung) The Yeung lab seeks to elucidate and design mechanisms underlying biological control and learning. The group integrates control-theoretic design, learning theory, and dynamical systems theory with synthetic biological design to discover novel biological phenomena, including architectures that govern efficient biological learning. A key phenomenon of interest is the role of genetic and genomic context and its interplay with biological circuit performance and robustness. The group is interested in understanding the role of epigenetic and biophysical constraints on host-circuit interactions, as well as context-aware design strategies to enact robust biological feedback.