Frequently Asked Questions
- What is Mechanical Engineering, and how is it different from Systems and Aerospace Engineering?
- Mechanical engineering is a broad and well established major that focuses on first gaining a fundamental understanding of materials, mechanics, fluids and energy. Then in the upper level courses, these concepts are incorporated into the design of mechanical and energy systems.
At many schools, aerospace engineering is taught as a specialty within the mechanical engineering department. Both programs are interested in engines, fluid flow, advanced materials and many other mechanical engineering topics. Aerospace programs will tend to focus on the application of those subjects to flight, while mechanical engineering will take a broader view.
Here at the Naval Academy our systems engineering department focuses on the control of electromechanical systems, one example of which is robotics. Robotics is also taught within mechanical engineering, but we focus more on the material selection and the mechanics of the design in addition to the electronic control system. Mechanical, Systems and Electrical Engineering majors typically work together on a project like FIRST robotics (http://www.usfirst.org/).
- Can a Mechanical Engineering major pursue a Language Minor?
- If you have validated at least two semesters of a foreign language, it is possible to complete a language minor as a mechanical engineering major. Make sure to let your advisor know of your intentions as soon as you can since it becomes more difficult to find room in your schedule as you progress through the program. Requirements for the Language Minor are:
French, German, Spanish: 12 credits at the 300-400 level.
Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian: 12 credits at the 200 level and above.
- What opportunities are available for Graduate Education?
- Graduating midshipman can compete for one of two programs. In one program, VGEP, you begin your Master's degree during the second semester of your first class year, while in the other program, IGEP, you go to graduate school immediately after graduation at the Naval Post Graduate School or a civilian university. Mechanical engineering majors have traditionally been very competitive for both of these programs.
- Are there any internship opportunities for Mechanical Engineers
- Each year several mechanical engineering students participate in summer internships. Examples of recent internships include the Naval Dosimetry Center, NOAA Aquarius Underwater Habitat, and Johnson Space Flight Center. Internships are a great way to get some real hands on experience and interact with professional engineers.
- What type of capstone projects do Mechanical Engineers design?
- Each year groups of midshipman, working as a team, participate in a number of design-build competitions such as Formula SAE, FIRST Robotics and Solar Splash. However, design projects are not limited to these competitions. The faculty often propose ideas, and students are encouraged to propose their own ideas for design projects. Some examples of these projects include a folding surfboard, composite snowboard, and weight lifting equipment.