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About ME

Welcome to the Department of Mechanical Engineering, part of the College of Science and Engineering, serving the state and nation as a leading center of education, research, and innovation. At latest count, the department has 44 active faculty, 56 staff members, 311 graduate students, 74 postdoctoral associates, research associates and visitors, and about 560 undergraduate students.

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The Future Looks Bright

Department leadership undertook a strategic planning process that resulted in a roadmap to make ME stronger and more vibrant than ever. Here's what we're focusing on.

ME Strategic Plan: 2020-2025

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Our Vision

The University of Minnesota Department of Mechanical Engineering has developed a strategic plan intended to achieve our collective vision of: 

  • Offering an education that is embedded in world class research, capitalizes on unique UMN capabilities, and embraces our mission as a land grant institution.
  • Enhancing the economic competitiveness of the state of Minnesota and the nation through our collaborations with industry and entrepreneurial innovations.
  • Providing excellent training and student experiences for the next generation of mechanical engineers.
  • Impacting society by solving grand engineering challenges in the areas of energy transition, environment and sustainability, human health, next-generation manufacturing, and robotics and mobility.

This vision is founded upon our commitment to a set of core values: diversity, excellence, creativity, and collaboration. 

Strategic Objectives and Recommended Actions

The strategic plan provides a pathway to achieve this vision through recommendations that focus on three areas:

Education

The Department of Mechanical Engineering is committed to providing a high quality student experience founded on a research integrated education, with learning opportunities that capitalize on the unique aspects of our department.

We will achieve these educational objectives through: 

  • Updating and revising our curriculum to be consistent with the required skill set for the next generation of mechanical engineers.
  • Promoting the societal impact of a mechanical engineering education by aligning course offerings with education tracks in areas including robotics, medical technologies, environment, and energy transition.
  • Providing an outstanding undergraduate experience through inspiring lectures,hands-on experiences, and partnerships with local industry (internships, our co-op program, senior design projects).  
  • Growing our undergraduate enrollment at a rate that matches the college growth, currently targeted at 25% over the next five years.
  • Recruiting and retaining a diverse cohort of students at the undergrad and graduate levels through community outreach, coordinated and proactive recruiting activities, research that addresses societal needs, and an improved online presence.
  • Leveraging the initiatives created in our centers (ATP-Bio, CCEFP, CTS, IEM, SAFL and BMDC) in all of these efforts.

Research

The Department of Mechanical Engineering is committed to maintaining our world class research programs and establishing leadership in emerging areas of departmental strength that are founded on excellence in core mechanical engineering disciplines. Our research activities address societal challenges in the areas of energy, environment and sustainability, human health, next-generation manufacturing, and robotics and mobility. 

We will achieve these research objectives through:

  • Developing workshops, invited seminars, and informal sessions intended at building collaborations between faculty in the department as well as external partners. Specific examples include onboarding for new faculty, extending seminar invitations to program managers, and offering lunch and learn workshops.
  • Enhancing the visibility of the department through a redesigned web presence, promotional materials, active graduate student recruiting, recognition of faculty achievements, and engagement with local community and industry.
  • Prioritizing activities that will impact the department’s visibility, including: centers and large scale research initiatives, industry/department partnerships and research programs, and cross-cutting interdisciplinary research.
  • Hiring faculty to maintain excellence and grow in areas that are anticipated to address future societal needs. New hires will be pursued with the long-term goal to have our department match the diversity in our society, allowing us to fully benefit from a broad range of perspectives in tackling grand societal challenges.

Community, Operations, and Engagement 

The Department of Mechanical Engineering is committed to establishing an inclusive, welcoming environment for all that enables individual growth and fosters collaboration. The role of departmental processes and operations is critical to creating the desired environment.

Summary of recommended actions related to community, operations, and engagement: 

  • Providing opportunities for professional development for all community members — faculty, staff, and students.
  • Developing, implementing, and supporting programs that promote diversity and inclusivity in the department.  
  • Aligning support staff to address critical needs in pre-award support, teaching laboratory activities, and management of large grants.
  • Integrating expectations for participation in activities that build and diverse and inclusive environment into the annual review process.

Benchmarking and Evaluation of Strategic Success

The effectiveness of this strategic plan will be evaluated annually by various measures including: the biennial employee engagement survey; the annual undergraduate and graduate Student Experience in the Research University (SERU) survey; the department ranking in key Big 10+ metrics (including diversity, research expenditures, and entrepreneurial activities); and other nationwide rankings of engineering departments. Additional data, especially as relates to community and processes, will be obtained via annual polls. These activities will be overseen by an assessment committee composed of faculty, staff, student, and industry representatives.

Focusing on the Present

UMN ME is a unique department that offers educational and research opportunities from our cutting-edge robotics lab to learning fluid mechanics from the Mississippi River and beyond. Our faculty influence legislation, design medical devices for local hospitals, create autonomous snowplows for MnDOT, and more — impacting our local community while remaining a global leader in advancing mechanical engineering research.

Learning From the Past

The University of Minnesota Mechanical Engineering Department was founded in 1889, but mechanical engineering courses were offered at the U as early as 1872. Since then, ME has grown to a thriving department with 40+ faculty members and 800+ students and multiple groundbreaking milestones under its belt. Read about what happened in between.