Mechanical engineering curriculum changes to prepare students for their careers

April 11, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the digital world becomes more integral to everyday life, engineers will increasingly need to know how to use computational models to analyze complex problems. To address these needs, the faculty in the Mechanical Engineering Program have implemented a new, innovative curriculum that will provide students with a fundamental understanding of both thermal and mechanical analysis using computational modeling. 

Over the past year, faculty, students, and the Industrial and Professional Advisory Committee (IPAC) have conducted in-depth discussions on what changes were needed to modernize the mechanical engineering curriculum to better prepare students. As a result of those discussions, three new required courses were added. In addition, to maintain a four-year degree program, two courses were eliminated in overlap areas.

First, a new computational tools course was added to illustrate fundamental principles through the uses of computational fluid dynamics simulations and finite element analysis. This class will prepare third-year students to solve technical problems during their summer internship and ultimately in their engineering career. 

Second, a mechatronics course that was once a popular technical elective will now be a required course. As one faculty member said, “Smart technologies are a part of our lives, whether it be washing machines or cars and mechatronics is the basis.” Third, a two-semester, one-credit course to equip students with practical life knowledge and career planning was added. Taken over a student’s junior and senior years, this course is designed to help students envision and implement a successful career in engineering.

Each of the new subjects were offered as a pilot course during the 2017-18 academic year. Speaking to the demand for this knowledge, all of the new courses were among the first to reach enrollment capacity. “These curricular changes are very exciting to Penn State’s students and faculty alike,” said Eric Marsh, the Arthur L. Glenn professor in MNE. “Our new courses address the needs of the 21st century engineer and keep our graduates competitive in a global workplace. The students have immediately responded to these new courses and are signing up for them in advance of their formal integration into the curriculum.”


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"Our new courses address the needs of the 21st century engineer and keep our graduates competitive in a global workplace." - Professor Eric Marsh



The Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering at Penn State is one of the nation’s largest and most successful engineering departments. We serve more than 1,000 undergraduate students and more than 330 graduate students

We offer B.S. degrees in mechanical engineering and nuclear engineering as well as resident (M.S., Ph.D.) and online (M.S., M.Eng.) graduate degrees in nuclear engineering and mechanical engineering. MNE's strength is in offering hands-on experience in highly relevant research areas, such as energy, homeland security, biomedical devices, and transportation systems.

Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering

137 Reber Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4400

Phone: 814-865-2519