Mechanical engineers are often referred to as the general practitioners of the engineering profession. They work in nearly every area of technology, from aerospace and automotive to computers and biotechnology. Mechanical engineering is a core discipline that encompasses the general areas of design and manufacturing, fluid and solid mechanics, and thermal and materials science.
As a mechanical engineer, you might develop a bike lock or an aircraft carrier, a child’s toy or a hybrid car engine, a wheelchair or a sailboat – just about anything you can think of that involves a mechanical process, whether it’s a cutting-edge product or a life-saving medical device. You could create new energy technology, improve the functionality of artificial limbs, or design the next race car. A mechanical engineering degree prepares you for a career in a variety of fields including design, research, and manufacturing.
Curious about the classes you'll take as a mechanical engineering major? Have a look at the sample undergraduate curriculum.
The mechanical engineering undergraduate curriculum at CU Boulder incorporates a broad range of courses to provide a balanced education in the fundamentals of the profession. You can choose from two study tracks — one provides a broad, general education in mechanical engineering, while the other allows you to specialize in biomedical or environmental engineering. Both paths will prepare you for a successful career in industry or government or to continue on to graduate education.
As a student, you’ll receive a hands-on education that breaks out of the classroom to give you real experience in the industry starting freshman year and continuing through our senior design program. Senior design is a year-long capstone project where you will work in a team to solve a real-world engineering problem being faced by a sponsoring business.
As a student, you can also participate in undergraduate research internships and industry co-ops, and gain professional exposure through the student chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers on campus.
On campus graduate and undergraduate research opportunities are available through individual faculty in the following focus areas:
- Air Quality
- Materials Science and Engineering
- Mechanics of Material
- Robotics and Systems Design
- Thermo Fluid Sciences
Research topics range from studying the loss of bone mass experienced by astronauts during long periods of space flight, to inverse-modeling to track the source of greenhouse gases, to discovering mechanical properties of exciting new nanomaterials such as graphene.
We also have strong connections to multiple national laboratories located just minutes from campus, providing opportunities for you to take part in real-world research. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) all have major operations in Boulder.
A mechanical engineering degree prepares you for a career in a variety of fields including design, research, and manufacturing. Our mechanical engineering graduates work in:
- Aerospace businesses
- Automobile companies
- Design and consulting firms
- Manufacturing and plant operations
- Power generation
- Alternative energy and conservation
- Bioengineering and biomedical devices
Recent employers of CU Boulder mechanical engineering graduates include:
- Lockheed Martin
- Hewlett Packard
- Ball Aerospace & Technologies
- Goodyear Tire
- ABSL Space Products
- National Renewable Energy Laboratory
- National Institute for Standards and Technology
About 20 percent of our engineering bachelor’s graduates college-wide continue on to graduate school, either here in Boulder or at other top universities.
Mechanical engineering jobs are projected to grow 5 percent through 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
The average starting salary for new CU Boulder mechanical engineering graduates is $52,782, with a median salary of $63,000, according to our 2015 survey of new alumni. After three years, alumni report earning an average of $73,000.