Mechanical engineering is the most versatile of all engineering programs. Mechanical engineering encompasses the design, analysis, testing and manufacture of products used in every facet of modern society.
Welcome to mechanical engineering at The University of Alabama and thank you for visiting our website. We are glad that you are here exploring many exciting and innovative programs our department has to offer. With our vision of becoming the 21st century leader in mechanical engineering education, we have restructured ME Department to better operate, recruit faculty, manage graduate student admissions, manage our distance undergraduate and graduate as well as newly-created PhD distance programs, coordinate projects for our capstone design, interact with industries and alumni for securing funding. As such, we were able to identify three Departmental Disciplinary Groups (DDGs) in Dynamic Systems & Control (DSC), Materials Processing & Manufacturing (MPM), and finally ThermoFluids Science (TFS).
In addition to hiring thirteen new faculty within the last three years, bringing the current faculty count to 36 (from a count of 26, that is over 38% increase), four new staff positions have also been created and filled. ME has had a very successful year on research funding, and graduate students’ enrollment. More specifically, we had a steady increase in new awards since 2018 and made some new records – that is a 24% increase from FY18 with the total new awards of only $5.3M to a record high of $7M in FY19, to another record high of $11M in both FY 20 and FY 21. ME Dept. has the largest share in the college, and led all other engineering departments by a significant margin in new awards in FY 21.
Our currently 1,600+ undergraduate and 125+ graduate students enrolled in ME represent a slight decrease in undergraduate enrollment and a 25% increase in graduate enrollment compared with last two years. Our undergraduate program has continued to stabilize after years of rapid growth. As the largest department in COE, ME constitutes close to 30% of undergraduate and 25% of graduate students’ population. We made a strategic decision to gradually reduce our traditional undergraduate enrollment while improving our distance education and online programs. Currently, we have over 325 undergraduate and 70 graduate students in our fully ABET-accredited online programs. Over the last three semesters, our BSME distance program has increased by more than 25% and the MSME distance program enrollment has increased by more than 60%.
This has been another exciting year for the Mechanical Engineering Graduate Program. Overall graduate enrollment for Fall 2021 is up almost 25% from Fall 2020, which was up 20% from the previous year. This increase is in spite of restrictive travel issues experienced by many international students forcing them to defer their admission to a later semester. The program growth continues to be due to the increase in externally funded research, the GAANN fellowship program, UA fellowship success, and growth in the number of ME faculty. Although the on-campus MSME program enrollment decreased by 13%, the distance MSME program more than offset that decrease with an increase of more than 130% relative to last year! As a result, overall enrollment in the MSME program increased by 30% relative to last year. The department and college also approved a distance ME PhD program that started in Spring 2021.
Our PhD admissions are up by over 50%, while PhD enrolment is up by close to 50% compared to last years’ enrolment. As a result, new opportunities for students to interact with faculty and other students outside the classroom have also been created. There are also more opportunities for undergraduate students to become involved with research. Several new opportunities have been created for students that include Capstone Day, Senior Day, Town Hall meetings, graduating seniors Day, ME Graduate Research Expo and “Engineering As Art” competition, and undergraduate and graduate seminars.
In closing, we strive to ensure that all our students have a strong education with teaming and leadership skills, involvement in student activities, and the practical background of co-op and internship experience. We believe that emphasizing these areas will make our students well qualified to take leadership roles in the future. Whether you are a current or former student, a potential student, or a visitor, please feel free to contact or visit us. Again, welcome to the Capstone.
Nader Jalili, Ph.D. and ASME Fellow
Professor and Department Head
Director of the Alabama Initiative on Manufacturing Development and Education (Alabama IMaDE®)
Chair of ASME Mechanical Engineering Department Heads and Chairs (MEDHC)
Chair of Southeast Mechanical Engineering Department Heads (SMEDH)