Mechanical engineers are problem-solvers who make things work better, more efficiently, and more economically. They are innovators, coming up with original ideas to apply scientific knowledge in new ways. Mechanical engineers are builders, designing and developing machines and systems that make life easier. Mechanical engineers have strong science, mathematics, and technology backgrounds.

Manufacturing processes, design of mechanical equipment and systems, and energy generation and utilization are traditional mechanical engineering fields. Students receive basic preparation in all of these areas. Through choice of elective courses they may further specialize in areas such as automatic control systems, renewable energy systems, robotics, product design, biomedical engineering, computational mechanics, manufacturing systems engineering, etc. Mechanical engineering prepares students for entrance into industry, for independent business (e.g., consulting, contracting, or manufacturing), or for work in government agencies. A degree in mechanical engineering may be used as a background for medicine, law, or business, as well as for graduate work in engineering.

Work in these areas requires a solid background in mathematics, statistics, mechanics, physics, machine design, thermal sciences, materials, the use of computers, and manufacturing processes. Mechanical engineers must also possess good communication skills and be able to work in teams. Mechanical Engineers should be aware of social and environmental consequences of their work.

With these skills, broad training, and an emphasis on systems design, mechanical engineers are in demand in practically every type of manufacturing, consulting, sales, and research organization. Mechanical engineers may work in automotive, materials processing, heavy equipment, paper, plastics, power, aerospace, chemical, electronics, or many other large and small industries. Their work may involve research and development of new products, design of equipment or systems, supervision of production, plant engineering, administration, sales engineering, or testing of individual components or complete assemblies.

Although many special areas exist in the profession, mechanical engineering can be subdivided into energy systems and mechanical systems.

The energy systems field has taken on special significance with the current awareness of the limited energy sources and the effects of energy use on the environment. In this field, mechanical engineers carry out work on the behavior of liquids, gases, and solids as they are used in all types of energy-conversion systems. Automotive engines, gas turbines, steam power plants, refrigeration systems, air pollution control, cryogenics and energy utilization require this type of background. To be proficient in this the engineer must have a knowledge of thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, heat transfer, and related subjects.

The mechanical systems field covers the design and manufacturing of products and equipment. Mechanical engineers who focus on design conceive of new devices and machines and also refine and improve existing designs. The design engineer must be proficient in kinematics, machine elements, mechanics, strength and properties of materials, dynamics, vibrations, etc. Mechanical engineers who focus on manufacturing are involved with planning and selecting manufacturing methods, with designing and developing manufacturing equipment, and with increasing the efficiency and productivity of current manufacturing technologies for polymer, metal, and ceramic products.  The manufacturing engineer uses chemistry, materials science, mechanics of materials, materials processing principles and practices, principles of computer control, engineering statistics, and other physical and thermal sciences to improve manufacturing operations and systems, and the products they produce. Increasingly, the systems that mechanical engineers work with incorporate biological and information technology components.

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.

Off-campus transfer students are encouraged to discuss their interests, academic background, and admission options with the Transfer Admissions and Advising 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 undergraduate students admitted to the Mechanical Engineering degree program in Fall 2016 or later. Check with the department for any recent changes.  Students admitted before Fall 2016 can locate their curriculum at this link.

Summary of Requirements

Mathematics and Statistics19
Basic Science17
Non–Mechanical Engineering13
Mechanical Engineering Core45
Technical Electives12
Math/Science Electives3
Communication Skills6
Liberal Studies15
Total Credits130


MATH 221 Calculus and Analytic Geometry 15
MATH 222 Calculus and Analytic Geometry 24
MATH 234 Calculus--Functions of Several Variables4
MATH 320 Linear Algebra and Differential Equations3
STAT 224 Introductory Statistics for Engineers3

All transfer students must have the equivalent of the above courses as equated by the College of Engineering Admissions Office. If the above requirement is fulfilled with fewer than 19 credits, the balance becomes free elective credits.

Transfer students may fulfill the statistics requirement with almost any statistics course having a calculus prerequisite and the approval of the mechanical engineering department via a Course Substitution Form.

Basic Science

CHEM 103
CHEM 104
General Chemistry I
and General Chemistry II
COMP SCI 301 Introduction to Data Programming3
PHYSICS 202 General Physics 15

Students following the normal ME course sequence need not take PHYSICS 201 General Physics to satisfy the prerequisites for PHYSICS 202 General Physics.

Non-Mechanical Engineering

INTEREGR 110 Introduction to Engineering1
E M A 201 Statics3
M S & E 350 Introduction to Materials Science3
E C E 376 Electrical and Electronic Circuits3
E C E 377 Fundamentals of Electrical and Electro-mechanical Power Conversion3

Mechanical Engineering Core

M E 201 Introduction to Mechanical Engineering3
M E 231 Introductory Engineering Graphics2
M E 240 Dynamics3
M E 306 Mechanics of Materials3
M E/​E M A  307 Mechanics of Materials Lab1
M E 313 Manufacturing Processes3
M E 314 Manufacturing Fundamentals3
M E 331 Geometric Modeling for Engineering Applications3
M E 340 Introduction to Dynamic Systems3
M E 342 Design of Machine Elements3
M E 351
M E 352
Interdisciplinary Experiential Design Projects I
and Interdisciplinary Experiential Design Projects II
or M E 349 Engineering Design Projects
M E 361 Thermodynamics3
M E 363 Fluid Dynamics3
M E 364 Elementary Heat Transfer3
M E 368 Engineering Measurements and Instrumentation4
M E 370 Energy Systems Laboratory3

Technical Electives

The mechanical engineering curriculum requires a total of 12 credits of technical electives. A minimum of 6 of those 12 credits must be from formal M E courses numbered 400 and higher. A formal course is defined as a class that meets regularly in a lecture format to study a selected topic. The educational mission is assisted with homework and exams. Formal courses include online courses but do not include seminar, survey, independent study, research, or similar courses.
Technical electives include engineering, mathematics, physics, chemistry, statistics, and computer science courses numbered 400 and higher. INTEREGR and EPD courses are limited to those listed below. The following courses are also accepted as technical electives:
BMOLCHEM 314 Introduction to Human Biochemistry3
BSE 351 Structural Design for Agricultural Facilities3
BSE 364 Engineering Properties of Food and Biological Materials3
CBE/​B M E  320 Introductory Transport Phenomena4
CBE 326 Momentum and Heat Transfer Operations3
CIV ENGR 311 Hydroscience3
CIV ENGR 315 Hydrology3
CIV ENGR 320 Environmental Engineering3
CIV ENGR/​G L E  330 Soil Mechanics4
CIV ENGR 370 Transportation Engineering3
CHEM 341 Elementary Organic Chemistry3
CHEM 343 Introductory Organic Chemistry3
CHEM 345 Intermediate Organic Chemistry3
COMP SCI/​E C E  354 Machine Organization and Programming3
COMP SCI 367 Introduction to Data Structures3
E C E 320 Electrodynamics II3
E C E 330 Signals and Systems3
E C E 340 Electronic Circuits I3
E C E 342 Electronic Circuits II3
E C E/​COMP SCI  352 Digital System Fundamentals3
E C E 353 Introduction to Microprocessor Systems3
E C E/​COMP SCI  354 Machine Organization and Programming3
E C E 355 Electromechanical Energy Conversion3
E C E 356 Electric Power Processing for Alternative Energy Systems3
E P D/​E ASIAN  374 Intermediate Technical Japanese I3
E P D/​E ASIAN  375 Intermediate Technical Japanese II3
INTEREGR 301 Engineering and Biology: Technological Symbiosis1-4
I SY E 323 Operations Research-Deterministic Modeling3
I SY E/​PSYCH  349 Introduction to Human Factors3
MATH 321 Applied Mathematical Analysis3
MATH 322 Applied Mathematical Analysis3
M E 273 Engineering Problem Solving with EES1
M E 351 Interdisciplinary Experiential Design Projects I3
M S & E 330 Thermodynamics of Materials4
M S & E 332 Macroprocessing of Materials3
M S & E 352 Materials Science-Transformation of Solids3
N E 305 Fundamentals of Nuclear Engineering3
PHYSICS 311 Mechanics3
PHYSICS 321 Electric Circuits and Electronics4
PHYSICS 322 Electromagnetic Fields3
PHYSICS 325 Wave Motion and Optics3
PHYSIOL 335 Physiology5
STAT 311 Introduction to Theory and Methods of Mathematical Statistics I3
STAT 312 Introduction to Theory and Methods of Mathematical Statistics II3
STAT 333 Applied Regression Analysis3
STAT 349 Introduction to Time Series3
STAT 351 Introductory Nonparametric Statistics3
Up to 3 technical elective credits may be obtained for non-formal courses such as independent study courses (M E 489, M E 491, M E 492, and other engineering independent study courses numbered 399 and higher); Cooperative Education (M E 1); and E P D 690, "Wisconsin Engineer Magazine."

Math/Science Electives

The mechanical engineering curriculum requires 3 credits of math/science electives. Any formal course listed as a biological science and numbered 100 or higher will satisfy this requirement. In addition, any formal course offered by an engineering department, or listed as a physical or natural science, and numbered 200 or higher, will also satisfy this requirement. INTEREGR and EPD courses will not satisfy the math/science elective requirement.

Communication Skills

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

Liberal Electives

The Mechanical Engineering curriculum requires 15 credits of liberal elective courses. See College of Engineering Liberal Studies Requirements for details.
Complete Requirements15
Total Credits15

Additional Information

Students fulfilling all course requirements with fewer than 130 credits must comply with the 130-credit minimum by taking additional free elective credits. Students in good standing may take free elective courses pass/fail (see the College of Engineering Official Regulations for details). Pass/fail courses do not count toward specific degree requirements.

Independent Studies and projects courses:

M E 291 Ungergraduate Mechanical Engineering Projects1-3
M E 299 Independent Study1-3
M E 489 Honors in Research1-3
M E 491 Mechanical Engineering Projects I1-3
M E 492 Mechanical Engineering Projects II1-3

Students must have a cumulative 2.5 GPA or a 3.0 GPA for their previous two semesters and file an Independent Studies Application form with the Student Services Office before enrolling for the course.

For information on credit loads, 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.

The Mechanical Engineering curriculum is designed so that, by the time of graduation, students will have developed the following attributes:

  1. an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering.
  2. an ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data.
  3. an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability.
  4. an ability to function on multidisciplinary teams.
  5. an ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems.
  6. an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility.
  7. an ability to communicate effectively.
  8. the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context.
  9. a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning.
  10. a knowledge of contemporary issues.
  11. an ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice.


First Year
MATH 2215MATH 2224
CHEM 10314CHEM 10415
INTEREGR 1101E M A 2013
M E 2013STAT 2243
Liberal Elective3Communications A3
 16 18
Second Year
MATH 2344M E 3613
MATH 3203M E 3063
M E 2403M E/​E M A  3071
M E 2312M S & E 3503
 Liberal Elective3
 15 18
Third Year
M E 3633M E 3643
M E 3313M E 3684
M E 3403M E 3133
E C E 3763E C E 3773
E P D 3973M E 3423
Liberal Elective3 
 18 16
Fourth Year
M E 3513M E 3523
M E 3143M E 3703
Technical Elective3Technical Elective3
Technical Elective3Math/Science Elective3
Liberal Elective3Liberal Elective3
 15 15
Total Credits 131

CHEM 109 Advanced General Chemistry may be taken in place of CHEM 103 General Chemistry I and CHEM 104 General Chemistry II; however, students must take additional free electives to meet the minimum number of credits required for the degree.


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 (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.

Professors Ghandi (chair), Engelstad, Lorenz, Nellis (also Engineering Physics), Osswald (also Materials Science and Engineering), Pfotenhauer (also Engineering Physics), Reitz, Rowlands, Rutland, Sanders (also Electrical and Computer Engineering), Shapiro (also Computer Science), Suresh, Thelen (also Biomedical Engineering), Turng (also Biomedical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering); Associate Professors Krupenkin, Negrut (also Electrical and Computer Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering), Pfefferkorn (also Materials Science and Engineering), Ploeg (also Biomedical Engineering), Qian, Rothamer, Shedd, Trujillo (also Engineering Physics), Zinn (also Biomedical Engineering); Assistant Professors Adamczyk (also Biomedical Engineering), Eriten (also Materials Science and Engineering), Henak (also Biomedical Engineering), Kokjohn, Miller (also Engineering Physics), Min, Pan, Peherstorfer, Roldan-alzate (also Biomedical Engineering), Rudolph.