Mechanical engineering is concerned with the energy, manufacturing, and design of machines. Design, which involves analyzing needs and designing products and systems, including complex human-machine systems, to fill them is key to mechanical engineering.

Mechanical engineers use energy principles and mechanics to design a wide variety of devices, machines, and systems, including complex human-machine systems, for energy conversion, biofuel production, environmental control, materials processing, transportation, materials handling, and other purposes. They may develop robots for space exploration, use a computer to simulate the freezing of human cells, or improve devices for use of alternative energy sources, such as fuel cells, wind turbines, and solar energy converters.

Why Study at Iowa

The BSE degree in mechanical engineering is one of eight Undergraduate Engineering Programs in the College of Engineering, which offers excellent opportunities for students to participate in research, internships, study abroad, and student organizations.

Students choose to study engineering at Iowa because of the college's academic excellence, individual attention, small-college environment, camaraderie, and tremendous opportunities. U.S. News & World Report ranks Iowa's undergraduate program in the top 20 percent of engineering programs nationwide.

Iowa admits incoming first-year students directly into engineering. About 525 first-year students and 100 transfer students enroll each year. Women account for over 26 percent of Iowa's engineering students; the national average is 20 percent. 

BSE/MS Fast-Track Degree Program

The BSE/MS fast-track degree program is for eligible students who seek to complete both the BSE and MS degrees in mechanical engineering at Iowa. Students interested in this program apply in the second semester of their junior year and, if admitted, enter that program in the first semester of their senior year. The fast-track program allows 12 hours to be counted toward both their BSE and MS degrees. 

Course Work

The mechanical engineering program emphasizes both a broad education in mechanical engineering fundamentals and the opportunity for in-depth learning.

All BSE students complete the BSE core requirements as well as the curriculum designed for their major program, which covers four major stems: mathematics and basic sciences, engineering topics, the general education component, and an elective focus area.

The elective focus area enables students to gain depth of knowledge in a career path. Students may choose from several pre-approved focus areas or work with their adviser to develop an individualized focus area, which is subject to approval by the department's curriculum committee. 

Focus areas in mechanical engineering include:

  • Design
  • Energy and environment
  • Manufacturing 
  • Robotics and Autonomous Systems

Review Mechanical Engineering in the UI General Catalog for more details.

Admission Requirements

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Student Opportunities

Engineering student support services include free tutoring for your first two years of math, science, and engineering courses.

Engineering student organizations, fraternities and sororities, and national honorary societies offer many opportunities to develop your leadership abilities. 

In addition to having more than 500 Student Organizations, Iowa students choose from multiple Study Abroad Programs and Undergraduate Research Opportunities.

Faculty, Facilities, and Resources

Iowa's nationally and internationally renowned faculty members, including physicians and practicing engineers, teach all engineering classes, including those for first-year students. No classes are taught by teaching assistants.

Faculty members also encourage undergraduates to work in their research labs. 


On average, 93-98 percent of our graduates are employed in their field of study or pursuing advanced education within seven months of graduation. Mechanical engineering graduates will find a wide variety of career opportunities in industry, government, and education. 

Engineering is a well-respected profession that is used as a foundation for a variety of careers in industry, medicine, law, government, and consulting. Engineering majors hold eight of the top ten spots on the list of top-paid majors for bachelor's degree graduates, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

Engineering Professional Development (EPD) develops and promotes experiential education and professional opportunities for students in the College of Engineering. Professional staff coordinate the college's co-op and internship program, engage in employer outreach, and provide opportunities for students to network with employers, including an engineering career fair each semester and other programming related to career development. 

EPD also offers individual advising and class presentations on resume and cover letter preparation, job and internship search strategies, interviewing skills, and job offer evaluations. 


Apply early for scholarships. The college offers Engineering First-Year Scholarships as well as many other scholarship opportunities for sophomore, junior, and senior students. Visit the College of Engineering Scholarships to learn more. 

The Office of Admissions and the Office of Student Financial Aid are great resources for students seeking scholarships.

Application Process

Application Process Tabs

Apply to the College of Engineering.


Mechanical Engineering (BSE)
Energy and Environment
Robotics and Autonomous Systems
Honors Courses
Four-Year Graduation Plan
Selective Admission