In the fourth year (4A and 4B) of the undergraduate program, each Mechanical Engineering student must select a set of 8 technical elective courses. These fourth-year technical electives are chosen as the basis for achieving the student's ultimate career objective after graduation. Each student is therefore responsible for selecting his or her own program, although guidance is provided by faculty members and by the Undergraduate Advisor and the Associate Chair.
It is anticipated, and indeed encouraged, that students will take most of their technical electives from one of the six areas of specialization described below. Lists of the courses offered in each area of specialization are given in the Mechanical Engineering section of the UW Calendar and that section also links to the course descriptions for each specialty.
Fluid Mechanics / Environmental Fluid Mechanics
The courses in this area of specialization deal with a broad range of applications of the principles of thermodynamics and fluid mechanics, with emphasis on topics of industrial significance for example, aerodynamics, internal flows with heat and mass transfer, turbomachinery, and flows in the natural environment such as plumes in air and effluents in water. Many courses in fluid mechanics and thermal engineering are closely linked.
Machine Design and Solid Mechanics
The courses offered in this area of specialization range from those which provide the mathematical and physical basis of the subject matter through to those which are largely applied in nature. Subjects treated are: mechanics (including vibrations); theories of elasticity, plasticity and fracture; machine design and design optimization.
Materials Engineering and Processing
This area of specialization consists of a comprehensive series of courses in metallurgy, including heat treatment, casting, welding, cold and hot forming. Nonmetallic materials, including plastics and ceramics, and composites such as fiberglass and sandwich structures are also considered.
Welding and Joining Specialization
Welding and joining processes are used to fabricate almost all manufactured products. New automated manufacturing methods have made welding and joining more important than ever before. The courses in this specialization are intended to prepare students to work in all areas related to welding and joining, including welding metallurgy, welding and joining processes (including robotic welding), and welding design. The specialization is the only one of its type in Canada and compares well with programs in Europe and the US. If all Mechanical Engineering degree requirements and requirements for the Welding and Joining Specilaization are satisfied, then a Welding and Joining Specialization Certificate of Completion will be awarded on graduation. Click here for more information about the specialization.
Automation and Control
The courses in this area of specialization are designed to provide the student with an understanding of the principles and control of production processes, the application of computers to the manufacturing activity and the organization of production. Topics treated are: automation, metal forming, numerical control of machine tools, applications of fluid power and industrial noise control. These topics are also a prominent part of the mechanical portion of the Mechatronics Option.
The courses in this area of specialization develop and apply the principles of thermodynamics, heat transfer (conduction, convection, radiation), and fluid mechanics to such topics as combustion; heating, ventilation, and air conditioning of buildings; and energy conversion. Many courses in fluid mechanics and thermal engineering are closely linked.
Mechanical Engineering students typically specialize in one of the six areas listed above. However, ME Department policy permits students to take up to 2 of their 8 fourth-year technical electives from courses offered in other departments in the Faculty of Engineering, provided that the courses are at an equivalent academic level. Students who are interested in a more formal link to other Engineering departments may take a designated option. If all requirements for the option are satisfactorily completed, the option is designated on the student's graduation transcript and UW degree.
There are at least 10 Designated Options described in the UW Calendar. However, although all of the Designated Options are open to Mechanical Engineering students, in practice only a few of the options may be taken conveniently. The most popular Options are: Mechatronics, Management Sciences, Software Engineering, and International Studies in Engineering. Each Option requires students to complete a set of specific technical elective courses, and extra courses must usually be taken in addition to the regular academic workload. Some Options permit Complementary Studies Courses, defined in the UW Calendar, to be included in the courses counted towards the Option. Students interested in a Designated Option must therefore plan the choice of complementary studies courses very carefully in order to ensure that both the Option requirements and the complementary studies requirements will be met.