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Mechanical Engineering

Emeriti: (Professors) James L. Adams, Peter Bradshaw*, Daniel B. DeBra, Robert H. Eustis, Thomas J. R. Hughes, James P. Johnston, Thomas R. Kane, William M. Kays, Joseph B. Keller, Charles H. Kruger, Robert H. McKim, Robert J. Moffat,* M. Godfrey Mungal*, J. David Powell, Charles R. Steele,* Douglass J. Wilde;* (Professors, Research) Richard M. Christensen, Elliot Levinthal, Sidney A. Self, Kenneth J. Waldron, Felix E. Zajac

Chair: Friedrich B. Prinz

Vice Chair: Kenneth E. Goodson

Group Chairs: Mark R. Cutkosky (Design), Scott L. Delp (Biomechanical Engineering), Parviz Moin (Flow Physics and Computational Engineering), Peter M. Pinsky (Mechanics and Computation), Juan G. Santiago (Thermosciences)

Professors: Thomas P. Andriacchi, David M. Barnett, Craig T. Bowman, Brian J. Cantwell, Mark A. Cappelli, Dennis R. Carter, Mark R. Cutkosky, Scott L. Delp, John K. Eaton, Christopher F. Edwards, Charbel Farhat, Kenneth E. Goodson, Ronald K. Hanson, David M. Kelley, Thomas W. Kenny,  Larry J. Leifer, Sanjiva K. Lele, Reginald E. Mitchell, Parviz Moin, Drew V. Nelson, Peter M. Pinsky, Friedrich B. Prinz, Bernard Roth, Juan G. Santiago, Eric S. G. Shaqfeh, Sheri D. Sheppard

Associate Professors: Wei Cai, Eric F. Darve, J. Christian Gerdes, Ellen Kuhl, Marc E. Levenston, Allison M. Okamura, Beth L. Pruitt

Assistant Professors: Gianluca Iaccarino, Adrian J. Lew, Ali Mani, Sindy K.-Y. Tang, Xiaolin Zheng

Professor (Teaching): David W. Beach

Associate Professor (Research): Heinz G. Pitsch

Associate Professor (Teaching): Shilajeet S. Banerjee

Courtesy Professors: Fu-Kuo Chang, Reinhold Dauskardt, Ralph S. Greco, Oussama Khatib, Paul Yock

Courtesy Associate Professor: Margot G. Gerritsen, Nicholas Giori, Charles A. Taylor

Courtesy Professors (Research): J. Kenneth Salisbury, R. Lane Smith

Courtesy Professor (Teaching): Shelley V. Goldman

Senior Lecturers: Vadim Khayms, J. Craig Milroy

Acting Associate Professor: Kurt A. Beiter

Consulting Professors: Gary S. Beaupre, J. Edward Carryer, Shuichi Fukuda, David M. Golden, Barry M. Katz, Paul Mitiguy, Johannes Schoonman, George Toye, Stephen P. Walch, Edith Wilson, Albert Yu

Consulting Associate Professors: Mehdi Asheghi, Gary D. Lichtenstein, William Moggridge, R. Matthew Ohline, Sunil Puria, Paul Saffo, Lester K. Su, Marc F. Theeuwes

Consulting Assistant Professors: Michael Barry, Brendan J. Boyle, William R. Burnett, Dev Patnaik

*    Recalled to active duty.

Student Services: Building 530, Room 125

Mail Code: 94305-3030

Student Services Phone: (650) 725-7695

Web Site:

Courses offered by the Department of Mechanical Engineering are listed under the subject code ME on the Stanford Bulletin's ExploreCourses web site.

The programs in the Department of Mechanical Engineering (ME) emphasize a mix of applied mechanics, biomechanical engineering, computer simulations, design, and energy science and technology. Since mechanical engineering is a broad discipline, the undergraduate program can be a springboard for graduate study in business, law, medicine, political science, and other professions where understanding technology is important. Both undergraduate and graduate programs provide technical background for work in biomechanical engineering, environmental pollution control, ocean engineering, transportation, and other multidisciplinary problems that concern society. In all programs, emphasis is placed on developing systematic procedures for analysis, communication of work and ideas, practical and aesthetic aspects in design, and responsible use of technology.

Mission of the Undergraduate Program in Mechanical Engineering

The mission of the undergraduate program in Mechanical Engineering is to provide students with a balance of intellectual and practical experiences that enable them to address a variety of societal needs. The curriculum encompasses elements from a wide array of disciplines built around the themes of biomedicine, computational engineering, design, energy, and multiscale engineering. Course work may include mechatronics, computational simulation, solid and fluid dynamics, microelectromechanical systems, biomechanical engineering, energy science and technology, propulsion, sensing and control, nano- and micro-mechanics, and design. The program prepares students for entry-level work as mechanical engineers and for graduate studies in either an engineering discipline or another field where a broad engineering background is useful.

Learning Outcomes

The department expects undergraduate majors in the program to be able to demonstrate the following learning outcomes. These learning outcomes are used in evaluating students and the department's undergraduate program. Students are expected to demonstrate:

  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.
  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 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..
  12. the ability to apply advanced mathematics through multivariate calculus and differential equations.
  13. the ability to work professionally in both thermal and mechanical systems areas including the design and realization of such systems.

Graduate Programs in Mechanical Engineering


To be eligible for admission to the department, a student must have a B.S. degree in engineering, physics, or a comparable science program. To apply for the Ph.D. degree, applicants must have already completed an M.S. degree. Applications for Ph.D. and HCP (Honors Co-op) programs are accepted throughout the year. M.S. applications for fellowship aid must be received by the first Tuesday in December. The department annually awards, on a competitive basis, a limited number of fellowships, teaching assistantships, and research assistantships to incoming graduate students. Research assistantships are used primarily for post-master's degree students and are awarded by individual faculty research supervisors, not by the department.

Mechanical engineering is a varied profession, ranging from primarily aesthetic aspects of design to highly technical scientific research. Disciplinary areas of interest to mechanical engineers include biomechanics, energy conversion, fluid mechanics, materials, nuclear reactor engineering, propulsion, rigid and elastic body mechanics, systems engineering, scientific computing, and thermodynamics, to name a few. No mechanical engineer is expected to have a mastery of the entire spectrum.

A master's degree program leading to the M.S. is offered in Mechanical Engineering, and a master's degree program leading to the M.S. is offered in Engineering with a choice of the following fields of study: Biomechanical Engineering, Product Design, and an individually designed major. Fields of study are declared on Axess.


The department offers two post-master's degrees: Engineer and Doctor of Philosophy. Post-master's research generally requires some evidence that a student has research potential before a faculty member agrees to supervision and a research assistantship appointment. It is most efficient to carry out preliminary research during the M.S. degree program, if interested in a post-master's degree.


The department has five groups: Biomechanical Engineering; Design; Flow Physics and Computation; Mechanics and Computation; and Thermosciences. Each maintains its own labs, shops, and offices.

The Biomechanical Engineering (BME) Group has teaching and research activities which focus primarily on musculoskeletal biomechanics, neuromuscular biomechanics, cardiovascular biomechanics, and rehabilitation engineering. Research in other areas including hearing, ocean, plant, and vision biomechanics exists in collaboration with associated faculty in biology, engineering, and medicine. The group has strong research interactions with the Mechanics and Computation and the Design groups, and the departments of Neurology, Radiology, and Surgery in the School of Medicine.

The Design Group emphasizes cognitive skill development for creative design. It is concerned with automatic control, computer-aided design, creativity, design aesthetics, design for manufacturability, design research, experimental stress analysis, fatigue and fracture mechanics, finite element analysis, human factors, kinematics, manufacturing systems, microcomputers in design, micro-electromechanics systems (MEMS), robotics, and vehicle dynamics. The group offers undergraduate and graduate programs in Product Design (jointly with the Department of Art and Art History) and is centrally involved in the Institute of Design; for further information, see

The Flow Physics and Computation Group (FPC) is developing new theories, models, and computational tools for accurate engineering design analysis and control of complex flows (including acoustics, chemical reactions, interactions with electromagnetic waves, plasmas, and other phenomena) of interest in aerodynamics, electronics cooling, environmental engineering, materials processing, planetary entry, propulsion and power systems, and other areas. FPC research emphasizes modeling and analysis of physical phenomena in engineering systems. Students and research staff are developing new methods and tools for generation, access, display, interpretation and post-processing of large databases resulting from numerical simulations of physical systems. Research in FPC ranges from advanced simulation of complex turbulent flows to active flow control. Faculty teach graduate and undergraduate courses in acoustics, aerodynamics, computational fluid mechanics, computational mathematics, fluid mechanics, combustion, and thermodynamics and propulsion.

The Mechanics and Computational Group covers biomechanics, continuum mechanics, dynamics, experimental and computational mechanics, finite element analysis, fluid dynamics, fracture mechanics, micromechanics, nanotechnology, and simulation based design. Qualified students can work as research project assistants, engaging in thesis research in association with the faculty director and fellow students. Projects include analysis, synthesis, and control of systems; biomechanics; flow dynamics of liquids and gases; fracture and micro-mechanics, vibrations, and nonlinear dynamics; and original theoretical, computational, and experimental investigations in the strength and deformability of elastic and inelastic elements of machines and structures.

The Thermosciences Group conducts experimental and analytical research on both fundamental and applied topics in the general area of thermal and fluid systems. Research strengths include high Reynolds number flows, microfluidics, combustion and reacting flows, multiphase flow and combustion, plasma sciences, gas physics and chemistry, laser diagnostics, microscale heat transfer, convective heat transfer, and energy systems. Research motivation comes from applications including air-breathing and space propulsion, bioanalytical systems, pollution control, electronics fabrication and cooling, stationary and mobile energy systems, biomedical systems, and materials processing. Emphasis is on fundamental experiments leading towards advances in modeling, optimization, and control of complex systems.


The department groups maintain modern laboratories that support undergraduate and graduate instruction and graduate research work.

The Structures and Composites Laboratory, a joint activity with the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, studies structures made of fiber-reinforced composite materials. Equipment for fabricating structural elements includes autoclave, filament winder, and presses. X-ray, ultrasound, and an electron microscope are available for nondestructive testing. The lab also has environmental chambers, a high speed impactor, and mechanical testers. Lab projects include designing composite structures, developing novel manufacturing processes, and evaluating environmental effects on composites.

Experimental facilities are available through the interdepartmental Structures and Solid Mechanics Research Laboratory, which includes an electrohydraulic materials testing system, a vehicle crash simulator, and a shake table for earthquake engineering and related studies, together with highly sophisticated auxiliary instrumentation. Facilities to study the micromechanics of fracture areas are available in the Micromechanics/Fracture Laboratory, and include a computer-controlled materials testing system, a long distance microscope, an atomic force microscope, and other instrumentation. Additional facilities for evaluation of materials are available through the Center for Materials Research, Center for Integrated Circuits, and the Ginzton Laboratory. Laboratories for biological experimentation are accessible through the School of Medicine. Individual accommodation is available for the work of each research student.

Major experimental and computational laboratories engaged in bioengineering work are located in the Biomechanical Engineering Group. Other Biomechanical Engineering Group activities and resources are associated with the Rehabilitation Research and Development Center of the Veterans Administration Palo Alto Health Care System. This major national research center has computational and prototyping facilities. In addition, the Rehabilitation Research and Development Center houses the Electrophysiology Laboratory, Experimental Mechanics Laboratory, Human Motor Control Laboratory, Rehabilitation Device Design Laboratory, and Skeletal Biomechanics Laboratory. These facilities support graduate course work as well as Ph.D. student research activities.

Computational and experimental work is also conducted in various facilities throughout the School of Engineering and the School of Medicine, particularly the Advanced Biomaterials Testing Laboratory of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, the Orthopaedic Research Laboratory in the Department of Functional Restoration, and the Vascular Research Laboratory in the Department of Surgery. In collaboration with the School of Medicine, facilities throughout the Stanford Medical Center and the Veterans Administration Palo Alto Health Care System conduct biological and clinical work.

The Design Group has facilities for lab work in experimental mechanics and experimental stress analysis. Additional facilities, including MTS electrohydraulic materials test systems, are available in the Solid Mechanics Research Laboratory. Design Group students also have access to Center for Integrated Systems (CIS) and Ginzton Lab microfabrication facilities.

The group also maintains the Product Realization Laboratory (PRL), a teaching facility offering students integrated experiences in market definition, product design, and prototype manufacturing. The PRL provides coaching, design manufacturing tools, and networking opportunities to students interested in product development. The ME 310 Design Project Laboratory has facilities for CAD, assembly, and testing of original designs by master's students in the engineering design program. A Smart Product Design Laboratory supports microprocessor application projects. The Center for Design Research (CDR) has an excellent facility for concurrent engineering research, development, and engineering curriculum creation and assessment. Resources include a network of high-performance workstations. For worldwide web mediated concurrent engineering by virtual, non-collocated, design development teams, see the CDR web site at In addition, CDR has several industrial robots for student projects and research. These and several NC machines are part of the CDR Manufacturing Sciences Lab. The Manufacturing Modeling Laboratory (MML) addresses various models and methods that lead to competitive manufacturing. MML links design for manufacturing (dfM) research at the Department of Mechanical Engineering with supply chain management activities at the Department of Management Science and Engineering. The Rapid Prototyping Laboratory consists of seven processing stations including cleaning, CNC milling, grit blasting, laser deposition, low temperature deposition, plasma deposition, and shot peening. Students gain experience by using ACIS and Pro Engineer on Hewlett Packard workstations for process software development. The Design Group also has a Product Design Loft in which students in the Joint Program in Design develop graduate thesis projects.

The Flow Physics and Computation Group has a 32 processor Origin 2000, 48-node and 85-node Linux cluster with high performance interconnection and an array of powerful workstations for graphics and data analysis. Several software packages are available, including all the major commercial CFD codes. FPC is strongly allied with the Center for Turbulence Research (CTR), a research consortium between Stanford and NASA, and the Center for Integrated Turbulence Simulations (CITS), which is supported by the Department of Energy (DOE) under its Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative (ASCI). The Center for Turbulence Research has direct access to major national computing facilities located at the nearby NASA-Ames Research Center, including massively parallel super computers. The Center for Integrated Turbulence Simulations has access to DOE's vast supercomputer resources. The intellectual atmosphere of the Flow Physics and Computation Group is greatly enhanced by the interactions among CTR's and CITS's postdoctoral researchers and distinguished visiting scientists.

The Mechanics and Computation Group has a Computational Mechanics Laboratory that provides an integrated computational environment for research and research-related education in computational mechanics and scientific computing. The laboratory houses Silicon Graphics, Sun, and HP workstations and servers, including an 8-processor SGI Origin2000 and a 16-processor networked cluster of Intel-architecture workstations for parallel and distributed computing solutions of computationally intensive problems. Software is available on the laboratory machines, including commercial packages for engineering analysis, parametric geometry and meshing, and computational mathematics. The laboratory supports basic research in computational mechanics as well as the development of related applications such as simulation-based design technology.

The Thermosciences Group has four major laboratory facilities. The Heat Transfer and Turbulence Mechanics Laboratory concentrates on fundamental research aimed at understanding and improved prediction of turbulent flows and high performance energy conversion systems. The laboratory includes two general-purpose wind tunnels, a pressurized high Reynolds number tunnel, two supersonic cascade flow facilities, three specialized boundary layer wind tunnels, and several other flow facilities. Extensive diagnostic equipment is available, including multiple particle-image velocimetry and laser-Doppler anemometry systems.

The High Temperature Gas Dynamics Laboratory includes research on sensors, plasma sciences, cool and biomass combustion and gas pollutant formation, and reactive and non-reactive gas dynamics. Research facilities include diagnostic devices for combustion gases, a spray combustion facility, laboratory combustors including a coal combustion facility and supersonic combustion facilities, several advanced laser systems, a variety of plasma facilities, a pulsed detonation facility, and four shock tubes and tunnels. The Thermosciences Group and the Design Group share the Microscale Thermal and Mechanical Characterization laboratory (MTMC). MTMC is dedicated to the measurement of thermal and mechanical properties in thin-film systems, including microfabricated sensors and actuators and integrated circuits, and features a nanosecond scanning laser thermometry facility, a laser interferometer, a near-field optical microscope, and an atomic force microscope. The activities at MTMC are closely linked to those at the Heat Transfer Teaching Laboratory (HTTL), where undergraduate and master's students use high-resolution probe stations to study thermal phenomena in integrated circuits and thermally-actuated microvalves. HTTL also provides macroscopic experiments in convection and radiative exchange.

The Energy Systems Laboratory is a teaching and research facility dedicated to the study of energy conversion systems. The lab includes three dynamometers for engine testing, a computer-controlled variable engine valve controller, a fuel-cell experimental station, a small rocket testing facility, and a small jet engine thrust stand.

The Guidance and Control Laboratory, a joint activity of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the Department of Mechanical Engineering, specializes in construction of electromechanical systems and instrumentation, particularly where high precision is a factor. Work ranges from robotics for manufacturing to feedback control of fuel injection systems for automotive emission control. The faculty and staff work in close cooperation with both the Design and Thermosciences Groups on device development projects of mutual interest.

Many computation facilities are available to department students. Three of the department's labs are equipped with super-minicomputers. Numerous smaller minicomputers and microcomputers are used in the research and teaching laboratories.

Library facilities at Stanford beyond the general library include Engineering, Mathematics, and Physics department libraries.

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