Lamar University
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How Lamar University mechanical engineering students learn to be career-ready

Ask Shiva Bairi what pursuing a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering at Lamar University (LU) means, and  tell you that it’s one of the best decisions of their life.

With a particular interest in thermal systems and heat transfer, Bairi’s academic projects were supplemented by comprehensive content and software systems that enabled a more in-depth understanding of their lessons.

“During my studies, I have worked on several academic projects in the areas of design and heat transfer,” they explain. “In advanced thermal system design, I have been able to work on software tools in MATLAB. [These] have helped me to understand the connection between theoretical concepts and real-life engineering systems.”

Lamar University

Source: Lamar University

What sets LU engineering students like Bairi apart is their interdisciplinary knowledge and skills in design. It’s a mark of approval that those interested in design should consider the mechanical engineering department’s Master of Engineering (non-thesis), Master of Engineering Science (thesis) and Doctor of Engineering degrees.

“I teach students how to model fluid and heat transfer systems with simulations using OpenFORM and MATLAB,” explains Ping He, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering. “My students can model complex applied problems and set up computation experiments to aid the design process. I teach the model process from model construction to software implementation to model validation. My students report that employers are impressed with their understanding and ability to perform computational experiments in support of design.”

Aside from coursework, there’s an extra element of education involved: an ease in determining what is expected from the ever-evolving engineering job landscape. “Interacting with industry personnel has helped me to understand what companies expect from new college grads,” Bairi says. “In American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) meetings, I was able to get interview pointers from other students who had successfully completed internships.”

While preparing for a job may seem like an arduous ordeal, LU has a strong track record in empowering its students to master the skills needed to attain their dream careers. With a high-ranking ROI resulting from the university’s affordability and alumni’s career achievements, LU’s College of Engineering will have its graduates hit the ground running – right onto the pathway for career success.

Fellow LU graduate and current senior mechanical engineer Dhaval Desai couldn’t agree more. “Today, top employers are going to ask graduate engineers technical complex questions and skillsets so we must be well prepared,” Desai says. “While I was studying, I got two paid internships. The internships later helped me find a full-time position in the mechanical engineering field. The courses and thesis research work I took during graduate study at LU helped me strengthen my resume and pass the interviews.”

Lamar University

Source: Lamar University

Alternatively, those interested in design and management can opt for LU’s Master of Engineering Management. This degree allows students to either focus on traditional engineering majors or branch into interdisciplinary topics ranging from automation to mechanical design. This all heavily depends on each student’s degree plans, which can be tailored to fit their professional goals and supported by faculty as well as individual course electives.

While LU’s research-active faculty has also been accredited with distinct achievements, such as Dr. Zhe Fan’s US$177,460 National Science Foundation award, the primary focus of the university has always been on teaching. To reinforce this, students work in small groups, allowing for a better understanding of lessons, peer-to-peer interaction, and more attention from advisors and faculty members.

“The LU Mechanical Engineering (ME) department is unique due to the emphasis on learning and implementation of various design and analysis software such as Pro-Engineer, ANSYS, Pro Mechanica, Fluent, and Gambit,” Desai explains.

However, LU’s commitment to helping its students realise their goals doesn’t just stop at their department’s course content. To prepare them for the complex nature of design, students can take coursework relevant to their interests offered beyond their department, so a mechanical engineering student might take a robotics course in Electrical Engineering or a Computer Science course in machine vision if they were studying robotics.

The flexibility for students to pave their own way is aided by the modernisation of the college’s labs, systems and resources, such as its Materials Characterization Centre – all of which serve as a testament to keeping up with requirements in today’s engineering landscape.

This is further backed up by the Dean of Engineering, Dr. Brian Craig, who explains: “The faculty and I are fully committed to preparing our graduate[s] for the digital transformation.”

LU’s location itself in Beaumont, Texas, is strategic as Beaumont is known to be a major chemical manufacturing centre, boasting four refineries and many heavy industrial facilities within its surrounding vicinity. LU is a low-cost university too, supporting most of its graduate students through scholarships with in-state tuition or assistantships.

Combining these factors is what ultimately contributes to the high success rates achieved by the university’s engineering graduates – and it’s looking no different for Bairi and his peers.

Bairi has since accepted a paid internship in LA to focus on maintenance and reliability within all areas of refinery operations, and is still receiving interview calls for co-op opportunities in the fall semester as well.

“Design and Material Science Engineering coursework at LU was helpful in answering technical questions in the interviews,” they say. “I am grateful for all the faculty and resources provided in the Mechanical Engineering department that has helped me to evolve as an engineer.”

To find out more about joining Mechanical Engineering at Lamar University, click here.