Mechanical Engineering

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Program Description

Common Work Term Tasks

Biomedical Option

Work Term Sequences


Program Description

Mechanical engineering covers a diverse range of engineering fields with five major areas of study: solid mechanics and dynamics, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, mechanical design, and engineering management. Examples of more specialized areas of work are acoustics, aerodynamics, biomechanical engineering, combustion engines, energy conversion systems, environmental engineering, material science including fracture and fatigue, robotics, and vehicle design.

The undergraduate program initially exposes students to a wide range of topics covering the fundamentals. Advanced courses and electives provide more specialized knowledge and emphasize applications. Many courses include experimental laboratories to give students hands-on experience with current engineering and measurement equipment. Throughout the program, several courses are devoted to mechanical engineering design. Working on individual and group projects, students apply engineering principles to challenging design projects and develop communication skills through oral and written presentations as well as preparation of drawings for fabrication in the department's machine shop. Computers are used extensively in the program; students are involved in programming and in using engineering analysis and design packages.


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Common Work Term Tasks

On their work terms, Mechanical Engineering co-op students can contribute to / perform the following tasks:

  • Computer aided design/Pro-Engineer
  • Equipment and piping design
  • Facility operations
  • Hydraulics
  • Failure analysis
  • Engineering drawings and specifications
  • Quality control and testing
  • Maintenance and repair
  • Cost estimates
  • Permits, tenders and proposals Preparation
  • Construction and commissioning
  • Data gathering and analysis
  • Spreadsheet/database applications
  • Measurement systems

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Biomedical Option

Applications of mechanical engineering to biomedical problems range from understanding the intricacies of fluid flows in the heart and lungs to the design of artificial joints, implants, orthopedic devices, and medical equipment and instrumentation. Exciting opportunities exist for innovative solutions to numerous health care problems by applying knowledge contained within the discipline of mechanical engineering. Such solutions typically require interdisciplinary teams for which the broad background in fundamentals obtained in mechanical engineering is an asset. Examples include the ever-increasing use of mechanical systems to assist or replace various portions of the anatomy, and the application of system modeling and design methods in areas from diagnosis to aids for rehabilitation.

For students considering a career in this expanding area, the Department of Mechanical Engineering offers two choices within its program. Both include all the broad core of mechanical engineering studies which are enhanced by the biomedical options. Both provide a good preparation for graduate studies in the biomedical engineering field. The first, which is available to all students, replaces the elective courses in the regular program with a stream of essential introductory courses in biomedical engineering and a course in biomechanics.

The second is a degree option, for a limited group of students in the cooperative engineering program, that includes a number of additional required courses and a four month clinical placement at a hospital or research institute. The overall length of the program is the same as for the regular co-op programs in the department. The additional courses are specified to provide a well-rounded introduction to biomedical engineering and biomechanics. Electives can be chosen from an approved list of courses to suit the interest of the individual student. Students completing this option will be granted a degree in Mechanical Engineering (Biomedical). With a suitable choice of electives (supplemented by at most two additional courses), students will also be qualified to apply to the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Alberta.

In addition to the tasks listed under Mechanical Engineering above, co-op students specializing in the Biomedical Option can contribute to / perform the following tasks:

  • Design new medical equipment
  • Evaluate potential designs
  • Adapt medical devices to individual patient requirements
  • Develop software solutions for existing problems
  • Propose methods of optimizing data collection
  • Data acquisition solutions
  • Evaluate and test existing medical devices
  • Translate patient and clinical needs into engineering solutions
  • Assist in the development of proposals for funding sources
  • Prepare information for patenting work

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Work Term Sequences

There are four different work term sequences for students studying mechanical engineering in the co-op program.

Students: Please refer to the University of Alberta Course Calendar for program sequence details.

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Last update: September 14, 2017