Departmental Goals

In pursuit of higher national and international visibility, and to better serve the State of Texas, the faculty of the Department of Mechanical Engineering are working to accomplish the following goals:

Elevate our faculty, teaching, research, and scholarships

Recruit and retain outstanding faculty
Establish endowed fellowships for junior faculty
Establish new signature research centers
Encourage faculty to increase visibility
Develop more collaborative research programs outside the U.S.
Establish visiting professorships

We need to recruit strong faculty to improve our student to faculty ratio. With the drop in tenured/tenure-track faculty over the past decade, the student to tenured/tenure track ratio in the department has increased from 22 to 29.  We are looking forward to increasing our faculty by 12 during that same time. This will reduce our student to faculty ratio and allow us to expand research into new and exciting areas such as mechanobiology and nano-materials. The department will need resources to provide competitive salaries to retain our top faculty. The department also needs to establish endowed fellowships for junior faculty, which can be used to support, retain, and reward high performing young faculty.

The Department of Mechanical Engineering currently has three recognized research programs, the Turbomachinery Laboratory, the Polymer Technology Center, and the Energy Systems Laboratory. The faculty have identified several new signature areas through which the department can achieve international recognition and funding from federal agencies. These new programs include mechanobiology, micro-turbomachinery, advanced nano-materials, and heat transfer. Department visibility will increase as more faculty members are involved with professional societies, and our goal is to see that every senior faculty member is a Fellow of their respective societies.

Strengthen our graduate programs

Improving the quality of our students
Increasing financial support for graduate students
Managing graduate enrollment
Diversifying the composition of the graduate student body

Improving the quality of our students will require raising the standards for incoming students. The department seeks to attract both high quality domestic and international students. To attract superior domestic students, the graduate stipends must increase in order to be comparable to those offered by our peer institutions. Our department also lags behind our peer institutions in the number and availability of graduate fellowships. At present, our department has only two graduate fellowships. Our goal is to have at least ten such fellowships in the coming decade.

Approximately one-third of our graduate students are in the doctoral program. Currently there are 6.8 research students per faculty. We will seek to improve the quality and reduce the number of graduate students to five per faculty. Currently 70 percent of our graduate students are international, and less than 11 percent are minorities and women. Our five year goal is to have a majority of our students be domestic and have at least 25 percent of our students be minorities.

Enhance the undergraduate experience

Improve the quality and diversity of incoming freshmen
Increase scholarships for undergraduates
Improve undergraduate laboratories and classrooms
Integrate more design into the curriculum
Increase participation in co-operative and study abroad programs

We want to provide more scholarships to attract highly qualified undergraduates. Our long-term goal is to raise a $5 million endowment for undergraduate scholarships, which will provide $250,000 per year for scholarships.

The faculty feel that both cooperative, internship, and study abroad experiences enrich the undergraduate program in mechanical engineering. Our goal is to increase the fraction of students participating in co-op and intern programs from 8 percent to 25 percent in six years and in study abroad experiences to 10 percent in ten years.

Currently, students have design projects their senior year that are sponsored by industry or government laboratories. Our two-year goal is to incorporate more open-ended design in junior engineering science courses. Our students need project design experiences built on a foundation of engineering science. A two-year goal is to incorporate open-ended design in the junior engineering science courses.

Laboratories provide our students with ‘hands-on’ experience of instrumentation, materials, fluids, and heat transfer. As new fields develop within mechanical engineering, we need to provide more funding to equip laboratories to support courses dedicated to these new fields.