Message from the Chair

On behalf of the more than 1,600 students, staff and faculty members of the Mechanical and Aerospace (MAE) department at UC San Diego—my sincerest welcome! Our department provides an exciting and inclusive environment that promotes discovery and excellence in a wide range of engineering, scientific, entrepreneurial and professional areas.

An academic degree from MAE at UC San Diego implies professional mastery of strong fundamentals that are honed through experiential learning, professional ethics, individual and group work, and a rigorous curriculum. Combined, these shape the foundation for lifelong learning required for success in engineering science and practice. This multi-prong approach to education and research training is the key to our success in preparing our students to compete effectively in a global economy.

Opportunities for MAE undergraduate and graduate students are virtually unlimited. In addition to our rigorous and challenging academic curriculum, our undergraduates are very active in extracurricular activities and national competitions, which are often coordinated by the various student organizations and clubs. The MAE department is in the process of expanding its existing machine shop into a mega-shop (a much larger and better equipped facility for metal, plastic and composite manufacturing work) that will provide enhanced laboratory training and hands-on experiences to all interested engineering students. The new mega-shop will complement the experiential learning opportunities already available through a number of MAE and JSOE facilities (e.g., the EnVision Arts and Engineering Maker Studio, and other tactile learning facilities used in courses such as MAE 3 and ENG 10). Graduate students have access to some of the most innovative and productive research facilities in the world.

The latest (2017) ARWU Global Ranking of Academic Subjects ranks our Mechanical Engineering program at UC San Diego as #1 in the US and #2 in the world1.  MAE at UC San Diego has consistently ranked as one of the very top programs for research productivity, innovation and impact in the past decade and we are showing no signs of slowing down. We will continue to grow and explore new opportunities. This critical mass and a tradition of excellence provides a wide range of out-of-the-lab training experiences to our graduate students, including entrepreneurial courses developed for engineers in collaboration with the Rady School of Management, internships in industry and national laboratories, and discipline-specific research seminars that bring experts from all areas of mechanical engineering sciences to our campus on a daily basis.

Please browse through our website for additional information on the exciting world of MAE education, training, research and outreach. We welcome you to visit our campus that is located in one the most scenic coastal communities in California, with a pleasant climate year-round, and where a unique blend of excellence, innovation, culture, cuisine, outdoor activities, and entertainment has flourished—all of this just a short ride away from downtown San Diego and many other southern California attractions.

Once more, I welcome your interest in our academic and research programs, and hope that you will enjoy learning more about us.

Carlos F.M. Coimbra
Professor & Chair
Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
University of California, San Diego



Department Overview

Centrally located on the UC San Diego campus as part of the Engineering Quad in Warren College, MAE labs and facilities are just a short walk from the other five engineering departments of the Jacobs School of Engineering (JSOE), the Geisel Library, the UC San Diego Medical School, the Price Center, and a variety of recreational, cultural and dining opportunities. Our department has strong ties with, and draws on resources from, the Scripps Institute of Oceanography (located in the lower campus, a short bike or free shuttle ride away), the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC), the Center for Energy Research (CER), the UC San Diego Medical School, and many other research units on campus. These strategic alliances provide education and research training opportunities for our students that are truly distinctive and multidisciplinary. They allow MAE researchers to innovate in problems ranging from nanometer to geo-engineering scales, and to play a pioneering role in research areas as diverse as extreme environment materials, ceramics, bio-inspired design, medical devices, renewable energy, atmospheric and coastal dynamics, plasmas and nuclear fusion, mechanical design, biomechanics, information storage, controls, robotics, mechanics, fluid mechanics, combustion, heat and mass transfer, among many others.

MAE currently offers BS programs in mechanical, aerospace and environmental engineering, and MS and PhD programs in mechanical and aerospace engineering. The MAE department also offers a Master of Advance Study (MAS) in Medical Device Engineering (MDE) in collaboration with the Bioengineering department, and is the administrative home of the campus-wide graduate program in Materials Science and Engineering (MSE).

MAE faculty, researchers and staff work synergistically with several organized research units (ORUs) on campus, including the Center for Energy Research (CER), the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (CalIT2), the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC), the Institute for Engineering in Medicine (IEM), and the Center for Memory and Recording Research (CMMR). MAE is also the home of the recently launched JSOE agile center (CaliBaja Center for Extreme Environments Research), and other centers for excellence in research (e.g., the Center of Excellence for Advanced Materials, the Center of Excellence in Renewable Research Integration, etc.), while being an active participant of the Contextual Robotics Institute (CRI).

As one of the founding academic programs of the UC San Diego campus, the MAE department’s history is inextricably connected to the legacy of excellence of both the University and the Jacobs School of Engineering. Since the early 1960s, MAE members have played critical roles in campus research, education, outreach and administrative missions and continues to do so.

Our remarkable faculty members have received numerous awards and accolades, which are well represented by the following numbers: 9 members of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), 3 fellows of the NAE-equivalent in Germany, Spain, and UK; more than half of our professors are fellows of their respective (and often multiple) professional societies.

MAE alumni have enjoyed success as professors in academia (MIT, Princeton, UC Berkeley, etc.), as researchers in national labs (LLNL, LANL, NASA, etc.), as wells as engineers in industry (IBM, Solar Turbines, Tesla, TRW, Google, Lockheed Martin, Northrup-Grumman, etc.).