Mechanical Engineering MS
The purpose of the MS program in the Department of Mechanical Engineering is to provide a world-class education to students pursuing a master's degree, in an atmosphere enlightened by the principles of the gospel. Specifically the purpose of this program is to produce graduates who:
- Eagerly pursue lifelong learning through study and faith in professional, religious and personal aspects of life.
- Understand the fundamental principles of mechanical engineering, and demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the principles related to the specific sub-discipline of mechanical engineering related to their thesis topic.
- Implement the fundamental principles of engineering through hands-on design and analysis, using modern engineering tools and practices, to solve complex, real-world engineering problems with high standards of personal and professional ethics.
- Demonstrate leadership in a specific sub-discipline of mechanical engineering through the development of new knowledge and practices.
- Confidently present their intellectual efforts in a national or international technical forums of professionals in their area of expertise.
- Express faith in God and a desire to serve Him through lifelong service to family, church, profession and community.
These purposes are aligned with the four major educational goals listed in the mission statement of Brigham Young University and are consistent with the aims of a BYU education. The stated purposes are designed to be spiritually strengthening, intellectually enlarging, character building, and to lead to lifelong learning and service.
The MS degree typically requires 2 years beyond the BS and must be completed within 5 years of graduate enrollment.
MS thesis students are required to complete 30 hours beyond the BS degree. In consultation with his or her advisor, students develop a program of study during their first semester of graduate study. Students enroll in 6 hours of thesis credit and the remaining 24 hours are selected from advanced courses offered in engineering, mathematics, physics, or other approved areas. The program of study is approved by each member of the student's graduate committee as well as the graduate coordinator. Students write and receive approval of a thesis prospectus from their graduate committee prior to beginning significant research. The prospectus must be completed and approved no later than the end of a student's second semester in the program. Additional requirements include two semesters of residency and attendance at the graduate seminar for two semesters. Students are required to present their thesis research in the graduate seminar and to defend their thesis in a public forum. A nonthesis option is available under certain circumstances. Departmental approval is required prior to applying. The option requires a minimum of 39 hours of course work.
Research activities associated with the MS thesis provide some of the most important learning experiences in graduate studies. Because research requires documentation and dissemination of results, it is a powerful means of maturing students in writing and other aspects of technical communication. Research offers students an exciting opportunity to make technological contributions to society as they extend the boundaries of knowledge. Graduate students work closely with faculty to present their work in the form of peer-reviewed publications and technical presentations.
This curricular structure is aligned with the mission of Brigham Young University and is consistent with the aims of a BYU education. The program objectives are designed to provide MS students with the opportunity to engage in activities that are spiritually strengthening, intellectually enlarging, character building, and to lead them to develop habits of lifelong learning and service.
Learning outcomes have been identified to help achieve the purpose of the MS program.
The expected learning outcomes are:Advanced Understanding of Mechanical Engineering Principles
Program graduates will develop an advanced understanding of the governing principles which serve as the basis for the practice of mechanical engineering and have the ability to apply these principles in the design and analysis of a system or process to meet specified needs.
Program graduates will participate in the creation of new knowledge and/or will advance the state of the art in a specific sub-discipline of mechanical engineering through the completion of a thesis project. The thesis project may contain elements of design, experimentation and analysis and will require innovation and creativity.
Program graduates will develop technical writing and oral presentation skills.
Program graduates will demonstrate a pattern of living consistent with high ethical and moral standards.
Evidence of Learning
A variety of assessment tools based on both direct and indirect evidence are used to demonstrate that students who earn an MS in Mechanical Engineering have achieved the stated outcomes.
Direct Assessment Tools
- Students must complete 24 credit hours of coursework (+ 6 credit hours of thesis research) related to mechanical engineering with a B average or better. Each student's courses must be approved by their graduate committee. Student GPA in these courses is used as a direct assessment tool.
- Twice per year faculty members provide a written evaluation for each graduate student that they advise. Specific program milestones and performance are evaluated and feedback is provided to the student.
- Each student is required to complete their prospectus early in their degree program. The prospectus, which outlines the anticipated creation of new knowledge and/or advancement of the state of the art in specific sub-discipline of mechanical engineering, is approved by the graduate committee.
- The thesis, which documents the contributions made by the student, is approved by their graduate committee and publicly defended.
- Each student's understanding of the governing principles and their ability to apply these principles is assessed by their graduate committee immediately following the thesis defense.
- The ability of the student to contribute to research and creative activity within the chosen sub-discipline of mechanical engineering is assessed by his or her graduate committee immediately after the thesis defense.
- The percent of MS theses that result in archival journal publications and the percent of graduates who present their work at national and international conferences are tracked. The number of patents and provisional patent filings resulting from MS theses is also tracked.
- The technical writing of each student is assessed by their graduate committee. The thesis is critically reviewed and the thesis defense is evaluated by the graduate committee.
- The graduate's oral presentation skills are assessed by his or her graduate committee immediately following the thesis defense. Additional assessments by the student's graduate committee chair are performed following presentation at technical conferences, department seminars, and/or graduate research competitions.
- Compliance with the honor code is verified by the annual ecclesiastical endorsement.
Indirect Assessment Tools
- Exit surveys – Each graduating student completes an exit survey that provides information to improve the program. Questions include identification of strengths and weaknesses of their educational experience and a discussion of their future career plans.
- External advisory board visits, surveys, and feedback - The external advisory board consists of highly respected mechanical engineering professionals from both industry and academia. The advisory board meets periodically with ME faculty, staff and students. A report summarizing their recommendations is submitted to the department chair following each visit.
- Alumni surveys - Department and university alumni surveys are collected periodically. In addition to specific questions related to department goals, the surveys ask open ended questions concerning topics such as: What can be improved in the department and curriculum?, What is the activity level of our alumni in professional organizations?, Where are the alumni employed?, and What additional education was obtained or is being pursued after graduation?
- A periodic academic department review - An academic department review is conducted every 6 years according to procedures established by the Office of Institutional Assessment and Analysis. In these reviews, the effectiveness of the MS program in the Department of Mechanical Engineering is measured based on the achievement of faculty and students relative to program goals. The review involves both internal and external reviewers, including external reviews of recently completed thesis.
Learning and Teaching Assessment and Improvement
The graduate coordinator and department chair select areas from the assessment feedback, in which improvement is needed. Items of major significance are presented to the department and solutions are sought through department graduate committee meetings, faculty meetings or ad-hoc committee assignments.
Examples of recent improvements
The evaluation process for each graduate student has been improved by instituting regular (biannual) meetings between each graduate committee chair and the department graduate advisor collaborating on individual student progress, needs and goals.
Department fellowship funding criteria have been made more transparent and objective.
Graduate program visibility has been enhanced through increased attention to social media, improvements in the department website, and updating of printed literature.