The Department of Engineering Physics administers the B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in engineering mechanics. The B.S. degree in engineering mechanics may be accompanied by an option in astronautics.

Engineering mechanics is the scholarly term for the study of forces and the resulting deformations, accelerations, motions, vibrations and other action that they cause.  As such, engineering mechanics forms the foundation of a degree in aerospace, mechanical or civil engineering and it is fundamental to important parts of biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, materials science, and other engineering disciplines.  Hence, a degree in engineering mechanics provides a broad scientific background which enables its graduates to tackle challenging problems in most fields of engineering. The curriculum emphasizes the basic sciences—mathematics, computer science, physics and the engineering sciences—fluid dynamics, thermodynamics, mechanics, materials science, and electrical engineering. Although the degree program is entitled engineering mechanics at UW–Madison, the program is most comparable to aerospace engineering and mechanical engineering programs at various universities across the United States. However, internationally, this field is more commonly known as “mechanics” rather than “mechanical engineering” or “aerospace engineering.”  A few select universities in the United States offer programs that are similar to UW–Madison’s engineering mechanics program under titles such as “engineering science” or “theoretical and applied mechanics.” 

The objective of the program is to provide the student with a broad background in the fundamental physical sciences and applied mathematics, coordinated with both theoretical and applied engineering methods and experimental techniques. This type of educational background will give the student the degree of versatility necessary for dealing with the variety and complexity of modern technological problems as well as the ability to adapt to the rapidly changing needs and interests of industry, government, and society.

An education in engineering mechanics provides many advantages. First, the foundation offered by a degree in mechanics allows our graduates to more easily interact with co-workers on interdisciplinary teams including chemists, physicists, and mathematicians. Second, many industrial organizations prefer engineers that have a broad, fundamental scientific background rather than a narrow view of just one discipline. Third, and probably most important, great changes have taken place in science and engineering during recent years. Among the most important of these have been the rapid diffusion of scientific knowledge and disciplines into engineering, the increasing use of analytical and computer methods for the solution of practical problems, the need for a better understanding of the properties and behavior of materials, and the increasing need for engineers who can adapt known methods to new situations and develop new experimental and analytical methods.  By focusing on core competency in physics and applied mathematics the engineering mechanics degree prepares students for these challenges.

The required courses taken early in the curriculum are intended to give the student a fundamental background in mathematics, science, and engineering. In addition to developing versatility through exposure to important concepts in various scientific fields, the required courses allow the students to identify areas of interest. With the relatively large number of elective credits available in the latter part of the program, the student may either continue to follow a general program or may prefer to concentrate elective courses in such areas as stress analysis and structural mechanics, dynamics and vibrations, aerodynamics and flight mechanics, experimental mechanics, applied mathematics, materials science, geological engineering, biomechanics, aerospace mechanics, mechanical systems analysis, etc.

Engineering mechanics graduates are sought by most industries and governmental agencies including in particular those participating in the newly developing areas of engineering such as space technology, performance of new structural materials, and so on. Their work often involves participation in design, research and development projects where the problems are sufficiently complex or unusual that their solutions require engineers with (1) a thorough understanding of the fundamentals of engineering, (2) advanced education in the established experimental and analytical methods, and (3) the ability to develop new experimental and analytical methods to attack problems for which standard methods, formulas, and materials have not yet been developed. The program also provides excellent preparation for graduate study in a variety of related disciplines.


The faculty recognize that our graduates will choose to use the knowledge and skills they have acquired during their undergraduate years to pursue a wide variety of career and life goals and we encourage this diversity of paths. Initially, we expect graduates will begin their careers in fields that utilize their knowledge, education and training in solid mechanics and fluid mechanics as it applies to aeronautics/astronautics and mechanics in design and manufacturing.

Whatever path our graduates choose to pursue, our educational objectives for the nuclear engineering and engineering mechanics programs are to allow them to:

  1. Exhibit strong performance and continuous development in problem-solving, leadership, teamwork, and communication, initially applied to nuclear engineering or engineering mechanics, and demonstrating an unwavering commitment to excellence.
  2. Demonstrate continuing commitment to, and interest in, his or her training and education, as well as those of others.
  3. Transition seamlessly into a professional environment and make continuing, well-informed career choices.
  4. Contribute to their communities.

Admission to the College as a Freshman

Students applying to UW–Madison need to indicate an engineering major as their first choice in order to be considered for direct admission to the College of Engineering. Direct admission to a major means students will start in the program of their choice in the College of Engineering and will need to meet progression requirements at the end of the first year to guarantee advancement in that program.

Cross-Campus Transfer to Engineering

UW–Madison students in other schools and colleges on campus must meet the course and credit requirements for admission to engineering degree granting classifications specified in the general college requirements. The requirements are the minimum for admission consideration. Cross-campus admission is competitive and selective, and the grade point average expectations may increase as demand trends change. The student’s overall academic record at UW–Madison is also considered. Students apply to their intended engineering program by submitting the online application by stated deadlines for spring and fall. The College of Engineering offers group information sessions for students to learn about the cross-campus transfer process.

Off-Campus Transfer to Engineering

With careful planning, students at other accredited institutions can transfer coursework that will apply toward engineering degree requirements at UW–Madison. Off-campus transfer applicants are considered for direct admission to the College of Engineering by applying to the Office of Admissions with an engineering major listed as their first choice. Those who are admitted to their intended engineering program must meet progression requirements at the point of transfer or within their first two semesters at UW–Madison to guarantee advancement in that program. A minimum of 30 credits in residence in the College of Engineering is required after transferring, and all students must meet all requirements for their major in the college. Transfer admission to the College of Engineering is competitive and selective, and students who have earned more than 80 transferable semester credits at the time of application are not eligible to apply.

The College of Engineering has dual degree programs with select four-year UW System campuses. Eligible dual degree applicants are not subject to the 80 credit limit.

Off-campus transfer students are encouraged to discuss their interests, academic background, and admission options with the Transfer Coordinator in the College of Engineering: or 608-262-2473.

Second Bachelor's Degree

The College of Engineering does not accept second undergraduate degree applications. Second degree students might explore the Biological Systems Engineering program at UW–Madison, an undergraduate engineering degree elsewhere, or a graduate program in the College of Engineering.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

The following curriculum applies to students who entered the College of Engineering after fall 2016.

Engineering Mechanics Curriculum

Summary of Requirements

Mathematics and Statistics22
Engineering Science26
Engineering Mechanics Core31
EMA Electives9
Communication Skills8
Liberal Studies16
Technical Electives6
Total Credits128

Mathematics and Statistics

MATH 221 Calculus and Analytic Geometry 15
or MATH 217 Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry II
or MATH 275 Topics in Calculus I
MATH 222 Calculus and Analytic Geometry 24-5
or MATH 276 Topics in Calculus II
MATH 234 Calculus--Functions of Several Variables4
MATH 320 Linear Algebra and Differential Equations3
MATH 321 Applied Mathematical Analysis3
STAT 324 Introductory Applied Statistics for Engineers3
Total Credits22-23


Select one of the following:5-9
Advanced General Chemistry
General Chemistry I
and General Chemistry II
PHYSICS 202 General Physics5
Total Credits10-14

Engineering Science

INTEREGR 170 Design Practicum3
M E 231 Introductory Engineering Graphics2
E P 271 Engineering Problem Solving I3
or COMP SCI 310 Problem Solving Using Computers
M S & E 350 Introduction to Materials Science3
M E 361 Thermodynamics3
M E 363 Fluid Dynamics3
or CIV ENGR 310 Fluid Mechanics
M E 364 Elementary Heat Transfer3
E C E 376 Electrical and Electronic Circuits3
or PHYSICS 321 Electric Circuits and Electronics
Computing Elective 13
Total Credits26

Engineering Mechanics Core

E M A 201 Statics3
E M A 202 Dynamics3
E M A 303 Mechanics of Materials3
E M A/​M E  307 Mechanics of Materials Lab1
E M A 405 Practicum in Finite Elements3
E M A 469 Design Problems in Engineering3
E M A 506 Advanced Mechanics of Materials I3
Select one of the following:3
Experimental Mechanics
Experimental Vibration and Dynamic System Analysis
Advanced Mechanical Testing of Materials
Aerodynamics Lab
E M A 521 Aerodynamics3
or M E 563 Intermediate Fluid Dynamics
E M A 542 Advanced Dynamics3
or E M A 545 Mechanical Vibrations
E M A 569 Senior Design Project3
Total Credits31

Engineering Mechanics and Astronautics Electives

Select 9 credits from any E M A course numbered 500 and above9

Communication Skills

ENGL 100 Introduction to College Composition3
or COM ARTS 100 Introduction to Speech Composition
or LSC 100 Science and Storytelling
or ESL 118 Academic Writing II
E P D 275 Technical Presentations2
E P D 397 Technical Communication3
Total Credits8

Technical Electives

Select 6 credits at a level that requires two semesters of calculus or two semesters of physics.6

Liberal Studies 

College of Engineering Liberal Studies Requirements
Complete Requirements 116
Total Credits16

Total Credits: 128

For information on credit load, adding or dropping courses, course substitutions, pass/fail, auditing courses, dean's honor list, repeating courses, probation, and graduation, see the College of Engineering Official Regulations.

Astronautics Option in Engineering Mechanics

Engineering Mechanics Scholars and Distinguished Scholars Program

Students who achieve at least a 3.0 GPA in their first semester, and maintain it throughout their career, may be designated Scholars. They also may be exempted from some formal requirements for the Bachelor of Science in Engineering Mechanics degree other than total credits. However, they must meet certain restrictions on the distribution of courses chosen. Students who achieve at least a 3.70 grade point average (GPA) for the first semester of the freshman year or a 3.5 GPA for the first four semesters, may be designated Distinguished Scholars. These students, with the approval of their advisor, may be exempted from most formal requirements for the Bachelor of Science in Engineering Mechanics degree other than the total credit hours, so long as they maintain a satisfactory performance record and the main thrust of their work is along the lines of engineering mechanics education. The general education and liberal studies requirements must be met by Scholars and Distinguished Scholars. Students transferring into the engineering mechanics degree program may be eligible to qualify for either of these scholars programs as late as the beginning of the seventh semester.

Honors in Undergraduate Research Program

Qualified undergraduates may earn a Honors in Research designation on their transcript and diploma by completing 8 credits of undergraduate honors research, including a senior thesis. Further information is available in the department office.

University Degree Requirements

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.

1. An ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems. This includes: a. an ability to apply knowledge of basic mathematics, science and engineering; b. an ability to use advanced mathematical and computational techniques to analyze, model, and design physical systems consisting of solid and fluid components under steady state and transient conditions; c. an ability to design a system, component or process to meet desired needs; d. an ability to use the techniques, skills and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice.

2. An ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data.

3. An ability to function on multi‐disciplinary teams.

4. Knowledge of professional and ethical standards.

5. An ability to communicate effectively.

6. The broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context.

7. A recognition of the need for, and ability to engage in life-long learning.

8. A knowledge of contemporary issues.


First Year
CHEM 10915E M A 20133
MATH 2215MATH 2224
Communication A3M E 2312
 Liberal Studies Elective3
 16 15
Second Year
MATH 2344MATH 3203
PHYSICS 2025Technical Elective3
E M A 2023M E 3613
E P 271 or COMP SCI 3103E M A 30343
E P D 275 or COM ARTS 1052E M A/​M E  30741
 Liberal Studies Elective3
 17 16
Third Year
E M A 5063E M A 4053
E M A 542 or 54553Experimental Mechanics Course63
MATH 3213M E 363 or CIV ENGR 3103
M S & E 3503Computing Elective3
E P D 3973Technical Elective3
Liberal Studies Elective3 
 18 15
Fourth Year
E M A 4693E M A 5693
E M A 52173EMA Elective3
EMA Elective3EMA Elective3
E C E 3763M E 3643
Liberal Studies Elective4Liberal Studies Elective3
 16 15
Total Credits 128


Each College of Engineering program has academic advisors dedicated to serving its students. Program advisors can help current College of Engineering students with questions about accessing courses, navigating degree requirements, resolving academic issues and more. Students can find their assigned advisor on the homepage of their student center. 

Engineering Career Services

Engineering Career Services (ECS) assists students in identifying pre-professional work-based learning experiences such as co-ops and summer internships, considering and applying to graduate or professional school, and finding full-time professional employment during their graduation year.

ECS offers two major career fairs per year, assists with resume writing and interviewing skills, hosts workshops on the job search, and meets one-on-one with students to discuss offer negotiations.

Students are encouraged to utilize the ECS office early in their academic careers. For comprehensive information on ECS programs and workshops, see the ECS website or call 608-262-3471.


Henderson (chair)
T. Allen
Smith (also Mathematics)
Waleffe (also Mathematics)


M. Allen



See department website for list.


Facilities available for instruction and research include:

Mechanics Holographic Lab
Viscoelasticity and Composites Lab
Wisconsin Laboratory for Structures and Materials Testing: Materials Testing Lab
Wind Tunnel Laboratory
Structural Mechanics Lab
Structural Dynamics and Vibrations Lab
Fatigue/Fracture Lab
Instructional Computing Lab (in Computer Aided Engineering)
Research Computing Lab 



Accreditation status: Accredited. Next accreditation review: 2018–2019.