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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.

Specializations

Designated Options

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.