Department of Mechanical Engineering

Gabriel P. Potirniche, Chair (324I Engineering/Physics Bldg. 83844-0902; phone 208-885-6579; 

Mechanical engineering applies the principles of science and technology to create products and systems which benefit mankind in several areas, including:

  1. the conversion of energy from natural sources to provide power, light, heating and cooling, and transportation;
  2. the design and production of machines to improve and lighten the burden of human work;
  3. the creative planning, design, development, and operation of systems for utilizing energy, machines, and other resources;
  4. the production of manufactured goods; and
  5. the interface between technology and society.

Mechanical engineering is broad in scope and provides a wide range of careers for trained professionals in industry, business, government, and universities. Positions are available in design, testing, manufacturing, research, development, operations, system analysis, marketing, and administration. Mechanical engineers are often involved as professional team members in economic and social-humanistic matters and are responsible for the interaction of technical advances with social and environmental concerns.

Mission Statement

Our mission is to prepare students for entry into professional engineering practice and advanced study through our regionally-recognized program of high-quality instruction, integrated design and laboratory experience, and scholarship.

Program Educational Objectives

After 3-5 years on the job, a University of Idaho Mechanical Engineering practitioner is expected to:

  1. Attain career advancement based on demonstrated knowledge and skill in engineering analysis, modeling/simulation, experimental methods, application of codes/standards, and design for manufacturing.
  2. Achieve client and stakeholder satisfaction of engineering solutions while maintaining a reputation for generating technically valuable early prototypes and wise use of available time, talent and budgetary resources.
  3. Establish recognition as a competent communicator within a field or industry through creation of clear problem definitions, generation of informative technical reports, participation in technical conferences/forums, and/or use of knowledge sharing technologies.
  4. Seek life-long advancement through continued professional development such as entrepreneurship, pursuit of graduate degrees, professional licenses, and/or certifications.
  5. Assume expanded responsibilities for collaboration with others including public and worker safety, environmental protection, ethical and legal practices, formal project management and involvement in professional communities or society at large.

Mechanical Engineering Student Outcomes

Upon graduation, students will have:

  1. an ability to identify, formulate and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science and mathematics
  2. an ability to apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration of public health, safety and welfare, as well as global, cultural, social, environmental and economic factors
  3. an ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences
  4. an ability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgments, which must consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental and societal contexts
  5. an ability to function effectively on a team whose members together provide leadership, create a collaborative and inclusive environment, establish goals, plan tasks and meet objectives
  6. an ability to develop and conduct appropriate experimentation, analyze and interpret data and use engineering judgment to draw conclusions
  7. an ability to acquire and apply new knowledge as needed, using appropriate learning strategies

Undergraduate Program

Successful completion of the approved curriculum results in the award of the Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (B.S.M.E.) degree. Our program educational objectives are based on the needs of our constituencies. We focus on the professional and personal development of our students and continuously assess and improve our undergraduate curriculum. Our department is a college and university leader in the use of innovative teaching methods, in vertical curriculum integration, and in the use of applied design projects. Students interact frequently and personally with the faculty and are mentored and advised by them. The strengths of our program are a solid engineering science foundation as demonstrated by the outstanding performance of our graduates on the nationwide Fundamentals of Engineering Exam, a required precursor to becoming a licensed Professional Engineer; a strong design experience featuring the design and construction of several projects; a strong laboratory experience featuring hands-on skills, state-of-the-art instrumentation, broad exposure to instrumentation and principles, and a senior project; multiple teamwork experiences, including the opportunity to lead and to serve in team roles; substantial use of appropriate engineering tools, including the best available software; and multiple communication experiences including written and oral presentations.

The Mechanical Engineering undergraduate program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET,

General questions regarding the undergraduate program should be addressed to the advising coordinator at 208-885-5024, or by email, Faculty members are available to discuss details of their specialty areas with interested students.

An academic minor in mechanical engineering is available. Contact the department for more information.

Graduate Program

The following graduate degrees are available in mechanical engineering: Master of Science (thesis), Master of Engineering (non-thesis) and the Ph.D. The department also offers a program in nuclear engineering. Please see the appropriate section in this catalog. Minimum preparation for graduate study in mechanical engineering is a B.S. degree in a mechanical engineering program that is accredited by ABET, Inc. Students entering the program with an engineering or physical science baccalaureate degree in a major other than mechanical engineering must demonstrate proficiency in the subjects required in the B.S.M.E. program. Individual student qualifications are assessed by the departmental graduate committee, which also determines undergraduate deficiencies.

The programs of study are designed to extend the student's understanding of the fundamental engineering sciences and their application to engineering systems design and analysis. Research programs are offered with specialization in many general topics; please see the departmental website for faculty research areas. We maintain and continuously improve a graduate curriculum. Graduate students receive quality mentoring and advising.

Graduate students will develop a plan of study in consultation with their academic advisor that provides for a reasonable concentration in a particular field of interest and a selection of related courses, some of which may be taught outside of the department. For M.S.M.E. and Ph.D. students, the thesis topic will generally be selected from research topics being pursued by members of the departmental faculty. Candidates for the M.E.M.E. degree have the option of an oral exam or presentation of a final project, which is normally given in the final semester of study.

We support education throughout the state of Idaho and beyond by providing quality distance education through the University of Idaho’s Engineering Outreach program, and supporting, collaborating and including our faculty at the Boise and Idaho Falls campuses of the University.


We provide engineering services (teaching, consulting, outreach, testing and research) to support industry and national laboratories. In addition, we provide service to professional societies, the college and university, and the region. We encourage our graduates to support the improvement of our program in formal and informal ways. These include student referrals, periodic evaluation, and donations of time, equipment and money.