4 US universities preparing students for mechanical engineering careers
Source: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Mechanical engineering offers an exhilarating and forward-thinking career trajectory, driven by groundbreaking technologies like robotics and 3D printing. However, today’s mechanical engineers are expected to innovate while remaining mindful of the profound impact their work has on the environment and society.

A degree in mechanical engineering equips students with the knowledge to balance both objectives. These qualifications teach them to develop and apply cutting-edge materials and technologies while instilling a solid understanding of the field’s fundamental principles. 

The most impactful curricula ensure that upon leaving the university, graduates are ready to make significant contributions across diverse industries, including but not limited to medical, automotive, aerospace, renewable energy, marine, and sports. Thankfully, when it comes to boosting career readiness, these universities stand out – specifically for their ability to prepare budding professionals for the realities of the working world.

4 US universities preparing students for mechanical engineering careers

UIUC has a rich and storied history that dates back to its establishment in 1867. Source: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

 University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Nothing guarantees career progression like an advanced degree from the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering (MechSE) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Here, instructors double as world-renowned experts actively shaping the landscape of their fields before bringing insights back to the classroom. Their experiences prepare tomorrow’s mechanical engineers to thrive in one of the world’s most sought-after sectors.

Faculty and students unite in MechSE’s Master of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering (M.Eng.ME) programme—a competitive, professionally-oriented postgraduate degree that is just as experiential as it is flexible. While nurturing the technical skills beyond what is taught at the undergraduate level, it also allows learners to specialise according to their interests. Options abound within six tracks: Design & Mechanics, Controls & Robotics, Energy, Manufacturing, Fluid & Thermal Sciences, and Biomechanics.

M.Eng.ME graduates are currently employed at top-ranked companies like Abbott Laboratories, Accenture, Amazon, Boeing, Capital One, Microsoft, NASA, SpaceX, and Tesla. 

The M.Eng.ME is an apt choice for anyone looking to follow in their footsteps. Aspiring career climbers who earn this degree from UIUC can increase the depth of their technical background, attending full-time or part-time—even while maintaining a full-time job, thanks to the online option, which ranks #3 in the US. Whether on campus or online, students receive guidance from a dedicated team of faculty and staff throughout their time in the program. To discover more about the M.Eng.ME program at Illinois, click here.

4 US universities preparing students for mechanical engineering careers

At the University of South Carolina, students receive hands-on opportunities to tackle real-world problems. Source: University of South Carolina

University of South Carolina

The University of South Carolina’s status as a premier destination for students, scholars, and researchers spans over two centuries. Two factors uphold its reputation: outstanding academic offerings and remarkable research capabilities. Hence why the university holds R1 classification for high research activity and has earned the prestigious Elective Community Engagement Classification. In 2022, researchers even secured US$237 million in sponsored awards across various areas.

Echoing this commitment to excellence is the College of Engineering and Computing (CEC), which is home to a Tier 1 research Department of Mechanical Engineering that ranks #31 nationally and #1 in the state by the National Research Council. Here, groundbreaking discoveries are made daily centred around mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering and nuclear engineering. Of course, students are warmly welcome to get involved. 

The golden ticket into the department’s state-of-the-art laboratories and research centres? Its graduate courses — all of which are just as experiential as they are rigours — enable students to work alongside industry practitioners throughout their studies. Options include MS and ME programmes in Aerospace Engineering, Nuclear Engineering and, of course, Mechanical Engineering. The department also offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering, which provides strong, in-depth research experience to those keen on careers in R&D. 

The MS in Mechanical Engineering is more foundational, offering exposure to advances in mechanical engineering through research while teaching the ins and outs of modern modelling and simulation tools. Meanwhile, the non-thesis ME in Mechanical Engineering prepares students to identify, formulate, and solve thermal, fluid, material, or engineering design problems. All paths lead to hand-on opportunities outside of laboratories, as well, thanks to the CEC’s expansive network of industry partners — all of whom are happy to host internships and co-op placements. 

4 US universities preparing students for mechanical engineering careers

At University of Washington, students go beyond being mere problem solvers; they actively act as catalysts for change. Source: University of Washington, Seattle/Facebook

University of Washington, Seattle

Founded in 1861, the University of Washington, Seattle (UW) is one of the world’s leading public research universities. Its Mechanical Engineering (UW ME) department is equally impressive, known today for offering the leading mechanical engineering programme in the Pacific Northwest. 

Participating students learn from esteemed faculty members. The department boasts an impressive roster, including 20 members of the National Academy of Engineering, 129 NSF Early Career awardees, 2 MacArthur “Genius” Award winners, and 32 Sloan Research fellows. This ensures students gain a comprehensive education that combines theoretical knowledge with practical application.

To cater to every interest, UW ME offers a range of other rigorous programmes designed to equip students with the skills and expertise necessary to thrive in various areas of the engineering field. There’s a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering, a Master of Science in Engineering, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering.

Making a tangible impact on society is essential here, too. By focusing on critical challenges in healthcare, energy, and manufacturing, faculty members and students actively develop innovative solutions that enhance people’s lives. Thanks to their research capabilities, UW ME remains at the forefront of technological advancements shaping our world.

4 US universities preparing students for mechanical engineering careers

Students at University of Texas at Austin engage in many interdisciplinary research and expand their understanding of mechanical engineering principles. Source: University of Texas at Austin/Facebook

University of Texas at Austin

The University of Texas at Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering has 14 undergraduate and graduate programmes ranked in the top 10. It holds the seventh spot in US News and World Report’s Best Graduate Engineering Programme in the US and Academic Ranking of World Universities’ 10th Best Engineering Programme in the World. 

The school has one of the nation’s largest and strongest engineering communities, with 280 tenure/tenure-track faculty members, 680 staff members, 8,000 students, and 70,000 alumni living worldwide. 

Cockrell School of Engineering’s alumni are part of numerous high-profile positions, including former US Secretary of State to the former Senior Vice President of Apple — it is what makes the school part of a globally respected community of engineers. This also opens the door to various working experiences, as the school is committed to building a mutually beneficial relationship between companies and the Cockrell School’s intellectual and material resources.

Industry engagement is a big part of  Cockrell School of Engineering’s teaching. With over 6,000 undergraduates and 2,000 graduate students, the school advertises student recruitment, matching talented engineering students with an organisation’s needs through the Cockrell School’s Engineering Career Assistance Center (ECAC). There is a range of student projects and programmes to take advantage of, too. 

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International