PhD Program in Mechanical Engineering Set to Debut
University Joins With UT Arlington to Help Meet Demand for Expertise in Field
Nov. 29, 2012
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has approved a doctoral degree program in mechanical engineering at The University of Texas at Dallas, offered in partnership with The University of Texas at Arlington.
The Department of Mechanical Engineering began offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 2008, and now has 474 students enrolled. Above: Dr. Yonas Tadesse, an assistant professor, helps student Avinash Honnavally with a demonstration.
The program, administered through the Department of Mechanical Engineering in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science and open for enrollment next semester, is designed to help fulfill a need for continued technology-based economic development in the Dallas area and state.
PhD students will be instructed in advanced core principles and have the chance to conduct research that will ultimately help solve problems in energy, health care, security and transportation.
“We are grateful for the partnership of our sister institution in making it possible to provide a much-needed and highly desirable degree for which there is a growing market,” said Dr. David E. Daniel, president of UT Dallas.
More than 14 percent of engineers in the U.S. work in mechanical engineering, making it the second-largest engineering specialty, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Texas produces a lower percentage of mechanical engineering doctoral graduates than other high-technology states.
“The Texas economy, even more than the national economy, depends on leapfrogging traditional areas in order to establish leadership in emerging technologies,” said Dr. Mark W. Spong, dean of the Jonsson School. “This new program will provide the quality education needed to fulfill this unmet local need, and contribute to the broader economy.”
Because of the presence of large defense manufacturing and systems integration companies, the Dallas area hosts a larger percentage of mechanical engineers than many comparable regions. In several of those companies, more than 50 percent of their workforce is older than 50 years of age. A robust stream of mechanical engineering graduates is necessary to help these companies, as well as those in the oil and gas and semiconductor fields, remain viable and innovative.
“Doctoral graduates are key to new knowledge and the transfer of that knowledge to industry,” said Dr. Mario Rotea, head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. “Our program will produce innovations that allow us to be competitive in a global society.”
The new doctoral program will help the University’s climb to reach enrollment and research funding levels on par with national research universities.
The Department of Mechanical Engineering began offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 2008, and now has 474 students enrolled. The Jonsson School averages more than $420,000 in research expenditures per faculty member. Both of these numbers are expected to increase with the addition of the new program.
Having the complete span of degrees – bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral – in mechanical engineering will benefit undergraduate engineering students.
“Doctoral students typically become mentors for undergraduates,” Rotea said. “They’re often a key part of enabling the undergraduate research experience.”
Program to Draw on Different
Strengths of Separate UT Schools
The doctoral program in mechanical engineering builds on the complementary strengths of the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science at UT Dallas and the College of Engineering at UT Arlington.
Dr. Mark W. Spong
“UT Arlington has been an outstanding partner on other collaborations, and I look forward to strengthening our relationship,” said Dr. Mark W. Spong, dean of the Jonsson School.
Dr. Jean-Pierre Bardet, Dean of UT Arlington’s College of Engineering, said he is pleased to partner with UT Dallas.
“We view this partnership as a step forward for providing the people of North Texas and its metroplex with the research and education they need to secure a bright future,” he said.
Mechanical engineering plays a role in the design, manufacturing and operation of solid, thermal and fluid systems, as well as the integration of these systems to create products and processes that benefit society.
Students in this program will have the opportunity to conduct research that will help solve complex problems in energy, health care, security and transportation.
The UT Dallas emphasis will include:
- Materials and intelligent systems for energy conversion, harvesting and efficiency.
- Micro- and nano-technology devices and systems.
- Control systems and robotics with applications to energy and health care.
- Thermal management across scales and applications.
- Multi-scale mechanical and thermal behavior of materials.
- Manufacturing at all scales.
Dr. Mario Rotea
Dr. Mario Rotea, head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering in the Jonsson School, said the collaborative program offers students at both institutions expanded opportunities.
“This collaborative initiative brings expanded offerings, improved efficiency, and increased availability of talent to the North Texas community and the state as a whole,” he said.
This new program will meet engineering challenges of the future.
“The joint UT Arlington-UT Dallas PhD in mechanical engineering is a result of a concerted effort between our respective faculty,” said Dr. Erian Armanios, chair of UT Arlington’s Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department. “Providing this opportunity for UT Dallas students and faculty underscores synergistic collaboration, opportunity and unlimited potential to meeting the engineering challenges in energy, sustainability, environment research and the associated highly skilled workforce.”