Message from the Chair

Man smiling

Allow me to extend a warm welcome to the Mechanical and  Aerospace Engineering (MAE) department at UC San Diego on behalf of over 2,000 students, staff, and faculty members. Within our department, you'll find a stimulating and inclusive atmosphere that fosters exploration and achievement across various engineering, scientific, entrepreneurial, and professional disciplines. Rooted in the foundation of UC San Diego, our department's rich history traces back to the establishment of the AMES department, which later paved the way for the development of the Jacobs School of Engineering (JSOE), as well as the departments of Bioengineering and Structural Engineering. The AMES tradition of engineering science has evolved to encompass ABET-accredited mechanical and aerospace engineering, while MAE is home to the Program in Material Sciences and Engineering and the Center for Energy Research. Simultaneously, individual and collaborative faculty labs (some within the state-of-the-art Franklin Antonio Hall) are at the focal point of research endeavors within mechanical and aerospace engineering and span into interdisciplinary studies encompassing JSOE, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and the UC San Diego School of Medicine. 

Opportunities for MAE undergraduate and graduate students abound. 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 various student organizations and clubs. These teams have placed highly in major competitions. The MAE department has recently expanded its facilities, providing a large and well-equipped facility for metal, plastic, and composite manufacturing work that provides enhanced laboratory training and hands-on experience to all interested engineering students. This new “mega-shop” complements the experiential learning opportunities already available through multiple MAE and JSOE facilities, such as the EnVision Arts and Engineering Maker Studio. In addition, our graduate students have access to some of the world's most innovative and productive research facilities. Lastly, the recently renovated EBU-II Courtyard provides a congenial outdoor space for work and relaxation.

The UC San Diego Mechanical Engineering program has achieved notable recognition in the 2022 ARWU Global Ranking of Academic Subjects, securing a position among the top 5 nationally and top 10 globally. Furthermore, UC San Diego's Engineering program stands at an impressive 8th place among public institutions in the nation, 12th overall, and 74th worldwide. Over the past decade, MAE at UC San Diego has consistently garnered acclaim for its research productivity, innovation, and impact, and our momentum shows no signs of slowing. As we forge ahead, we embrace growth and seize new opportunities to expand our horizons. Complementing our tradition of excellence, we offer a wide range of experiential learning opportunities to our graduate students that extend beyond the confines of the laboratory. Our curriculum features specialized entrepreneurial courses developed in collaboration with the Rady School of Management, internships in industry and national laboratories, and engaging discipline-specific research seminars that attract engineering experts from diverse fields to our campus daily. 

Please explore our website for additional information on the exciting educational, training, research, and outreach activities within MAE. We welcome you to visit our campus, located a stone’s throw from the ocean in one of the most scenic coastal areas in California. The pleasant climate year-round and local blend of excellence, innovation, culture, cuisine, outdoor activities, and entertainment makes MAE an ideal place to learn, research, and work, with downtown San Diego and many other southern California attractions just a short ride away.

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

Stefan Llewellyn Smith
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 well as engineers in industry (IBM, Solar Turbines, Tesla, TRW, Google, Lockheed Martin, Northrup-Grumman, etc.).