MechSE's unprecedented growth

This Fall, all of MechSE’s degree programs will welcome their largest student cohorts in department history. The undergraduate degree program, MS and PhD degree programs, and the M.Eng.ME program will all surpass last year’s robust, record-breaking growth. Our faculty roster has also seen a bigger-than-ever expansion – providing the department with an enhanced presence in the growing fields of cancer research, mechanics of materials, soft robotics, manufacturing, and more.

Written by Julia Park



BS degrees in Mechanical Engineering (ME) and Engineering Mechanics (EM)

The halls of Sidney Lu MEB in August will see an estimated 318 first-year students – our largest class ever – including nearly 23% women, 47% Illinois residents and 27% international students. These first-year students are projected to receive $102k in MechSE departmental scholarships for the 2024-25 academic year – out of an anticipated total of $354k given to undergraduate students.

“While our student body has always been exceptional, in recent years, we have seen notable rises in the caliber of our incoming undergraduates. This has been evident from not only the courses they enroll in, but also their early involvement in significant opportunities like undergraduate research, internships, study abroad, and other enriching experiences,” said Stephanie Ott-Monsivais, Director of Undergraduate Programs. “These developments highlight the superior academic preparation of our recent students and their proactive efforts to enhance their educational experience right from the start.”

“It's so important that we continue to build a critical mass of researchers here in MechSE who are addressing the world's most pressing engineering problems. ”

Tony Jacobi, MechSE Department Head

MS and PhD degrees in Mechanical Engineering (ME) and Theoretical & Applied Mechanics (TAM)

Nearly 900 students applied for Fall 2024 for the MS and PhD programs in ME and TAM. About 32% of those applicants are offered admission, with 115 accepting – resulting in the highest number of enrolled graduate students in the past 10 years. This 40% acceptance rate far surpasses the 28% acceptance in 2022 and even 36% last year, in 2023.

What’s most impressive, however, is the scholarly rigor this incoming class will bring to MechSE. This year, many of our graduate students will be funded by $781k in fellowships provided by the Graduate College and The Grainger College of Engineering.

Master of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering (M.Eng.ME)

The M.Eng.ME – professional master’s degree program in mechanical engineering – launched in Fall 2015 with just seven on-campus students, adding an online student one year later. Since then, with an intense focus on recruitment, program development, student engagement, and individualized student advising, program enrollment has exploded. For Fall 2024, MechSE expects to serve 120 students, one-third of which are enrolled in the online program. The M.Eng.ME program continues to boast high retention and graduation rates as well as an impressive cumulative GPA.

“As faculty director of MechSE’s M.Eng.ME, I am proud to work with our staff and students of such a high caliber academically and professionally. During its early formative years, under the direction of former Faculty Director, Professor Jiajun He, and Program Coordinator Susan Roughton, the M.Eng.ME grew rapidly, with highly talented students enrolling and a greater number of high-quality course offerings for online students,” said Professor Quinn Brewster. “Now, with our recent hiring of an Online Programs Coordinator, Jessica Moyer, we’re transitioning into a period of even more rapid growth, and MechSE is looking forward to further increasing online course offerings to meet the needs of our students, both academically and professionally.”

This year, the online mechanical engineering master’s degree – part of the M.Eng.ME program – was ranked #4 in the country by U.S. News and World Report.

MechSE Faculty 

MechSE’s robust faculty recruiting efforts during the last several years are paying off as seven new faculty (both tenure track and specialized) join the department this coming academic year – surpassing many years of hiring records for MechSE. We also welcomed an additional four tenure track and specialized faculty during the 2023-24 academic year, enhancing our expertise in materials design, drug transport and tissue microenvironments, sustainable manufacturing, and structural engineering.

“MechSE’s faculty are truly some of the best in the world, and prospective faculty know that,” said Department Head Tony Jacobi. “It’s so important that we continue to build a critical mass of researchers here in MechSE who are addressing the world’s most pressing engineering problems.”

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This story was published June 17, 2024.