Required Courses

The requirements for graduation are summarized in formal checksheets that are maintained by the Registrar. Our latest approved checksheets are located here.

The ME department makes unofficial degree path sheets to summarize the requirements contained in the formal checksheets in a flow chart. The degree path sheets summarize prerequisite and corequisite requirements, which may change without notice. These are only for reference only to aid you in planning your courses:

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Alternate Course Plans

Co-Op Course Plans

Some students may wish to spread out their schedules and delay their graduation. An excellent way to lighten semester course loads while getting engineering work experience is to accept a full-time, paid engineering co-op position.

Students can work for virtually any company as a co-op as long as the company agrees to the meet the employer requirements set by Career Services. Signing up for a formal co-op position through Career &Professional Development allows the student to be considered as a full time student for insurance and other purposes.

Below are sample course plans for co-op students:

Military Course Plans

Military students who have additional course requirements above the 130 credits required for a BSME degree often spread their schedules out to 5 years. A 5 Year Military Plan keeps the required BSME courses at or below 15 credits per semester, with the lightest loads taken while the student is taking sophomore and junior level engineering courses.

For strong military students or those with AP credits to significantly reduce the course load, a sample 4.5 Year Military Plan may be considered. Caution is advised with this and any alternate schedule; if a student does not stick to this schedule and needs to repeat certain critical courses, graduation will be delayed.

Please consult your academic advisor if you need help making a personalized schedule or if you are planning to drop a course and would like to know how this may impact your schedule.

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CLE Elective Courses

ME students must choose humanities courses to satisfy the University Curriculum for Liberal Education (CLE) requirements and must take these courses in the A/F grading system unless the courses are only offered P/F. Electives should include:

  • 6 credits Area 2 (Ideas, Cultural Traditions, & Values)
  • 6 credits Area 3 (Society & Human Behavior)
  • 1 credit Area 6 (Creativity & Aesthetic Experience) , and
  • 3 credits Area 7 (Critical Issues in a Global Context).

Be sure to choose courses from the CLE guide for the year you enter VT. All other CLE requirements not listed above are met by taking the required ME courses. (ME4015, ME4016, and ME4006 cover the writing intensive course requirements.) AP credits and transfer credits may be used to satisfy CLE requirements.

To see which Core Curriculum Areas you have/have not satisfied: Please Apply for a Degree if you have not done so already – this is NOT the same as selecting ME as your major. (Note that you can update your application for degree at any time to change your graduation date if your plans change.) You can then run a Degree Audit Report. Your DARS report will show you which courses counted towards the various areas and which areas are still unfulfilled.

Note: A single course cannot fulfill two CLE requirements unless it is an Area 7 course that also fulfills Area 2 or 3.  For example, GEOG1014 (World Regions) meets both Areas 3 & 7 and HIST2054 (Engineering Cultures) meets both Areas 2 & 7. A student taking one of these courses would meet both requirements, but would need 3 credits of free electives to reach 130 credits. Free elective courses can be any course not listed on the list of non-degree courses maintained by the College of Engineering.

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Technical Electives

For students graduating in 2012 or later, please see our technical elective lists. Note that the new technical elective list offers more options, but separates technical electives into two different categories. A limit of 6 credits may be selected from List #2, which includes “soft” technical classes such as independent study (ME4974), undergraduate research (ME4994), 2000-level technical electives, and ENGL3764 (technical writing).

If you wish to receive technical elective credit for a course that is not on this list, please fill out a technical elective request form and return it to 113 Randolph.

Technical Elective list

Technical electives should be selected to match your career interests. Popular areas include:

Note that prospective employers will be more impressed if you have taken courses that meet their needs than if they saw an unrelated minor listed on your resume. You can always bring attention to your choice of technical electives on your resume by including a statement such as: “I concentrated in automotive engineering by taking the following courses …” (That would certainly get an auto manufacturer’s attention more than a math minor would!)

If you are not sure what area you would like to specialize in, you should consider taking general technical electives in a variety of areas and pursue engineering internships or co-op jobs as a means of exploring potential careers.

Are you interested in automotive engineering? Would you like to have a summer experience studying automotive engineering at Germany’s top Mechanical Engineering institute? Consider taking the Automotive Engineering summer program at Technische Universitat Darmstadt.


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Undergraduate Research & Independent Study

Independent Study (4974) or Undergraduate Research (4994) courses provide students an opportunity to work individually with a professor. In order to enroll in one of these, the student and professor must work together to fill out an undergraduate research/independent study form which must be signed by the Instructor, Instructor’s Department Head, Student’s Department Head (if different from Student’s), and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

The deadline for the submission of this form to the Student’s Academic Advisor (Sarah Deisher for ME students) is the first day of classes in the semester that the course is to be taken. Students must have a 2.5 overall GPA and a 2.0 in-major GPA to participate in Undergraduate Research or Independent Study.

A total of up to 6 credits of Independent Study and/or Undergraduate Research may be used as List #2 technical elective credits. A maximum of 6 credits may be selected from List #2; all other technical elective credit must be selected from List #1. If a student wishes to do more than 6 credits of Independent Study and/or Undergraduate Research, these credits would count as free elective credits.

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Senior Design Projects

The highlight of our undergraduate program is the Capstone Senior Design project (ME4015/4016), a two-semester design project which allows the student to put together all of their engineering knowledge and solve a real-life engineering problem using a hands-on, team-based approach. Students must meet the prerequisites for ME4015 by the end of their junior year or must wait until the following fall semester to start senior design.

An informational meeting is typically held during ME4005 lecture in April to let students know more about the senior year and to distribute the new list of senior design projects. If you were not at the the March 22, 2010 ME4005 lecture, please see the slides for the Class of 2012 and contact Linda Vick if you have any questions.

The 2011-2012 Senior Design Project List shows the large variety senior design projects planned for next year; this list will be updated periodically through the start of classes in August. Students select a project of interest to them and request the corresponding course request number for ME4015 during course request or during drop/add. If they do not get their first choice of projects, they can switch projects up until the first week of classes in the fall. Students continue on with the same project in the spring in ME4016.

Students are encouraged to contact faculty senior design project advisors if they have any questions. If a student has an idea for a new senior design project, they should seek a faculty member that is willing to advise that project and is willing to meet the project requirements set by the ME Department. Prospective senior design project advisors can contact Dr. Clint Dancey if they are interested in advising an ME senior design project.

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Non-Degree Courses

The College of Engineering’s Academic Dean’s Office maintains a list of non-degree courses that cannot be counted towards a degree in engineering. The list includes courses such as mentoring and success strategy courses (including the Hypatia and Galileo seminars), elementary level math courses, and the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam review course (ESM4404).

Please check the non-degree course list before selecting free elective courses that you may need to reach the 130 credits required to earn a BSME degree. ME students are only required to take free electives if they have used a single course to satisfy multiple requirements on the ME checksheet. For example, if GEOG1014 is used to satisfy both Area 3 and Area 7, only 3 credits are earned, and 3 credits of free electives are required to reach the 130 credits required to graduate.

It is up to you to be sure that you have enough credits to graduate. If the DARS (Degree Audit Report System) program incorrectly awards you credits for these courses and the error is discovered, these credits may be removed from your DARS report and you may find yourself short at graduation time. Please contact your advisor if you have any questions about this.

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Minors and Second Majors

Some students have a strong interest in an area outside of the ME Department that they wish to pursue as a minor or as a second major. To sign up for a minor or major, please see the department offering that program. Note that you need to either complete all requirements for that major/minor or drop the major/minor in order to receive your ME degree.

Some of the more common minors earned by ME students are:

  • Nuclear Engineering: Courses are being taught for a Nuclear Engineering minor which is still under development. The effective date will be announced once the minor has received formal approval from the University.
    The Nuclear Engineering Minor will require 6 courses (18 credits), all of which will be List #1 technical electives for ME students. Non-ME students should contact their departmental advisor to find out about the possibility of counting the nuclear engineering courses towards their department’s technical elective requirements.
    Students considering employment in the nuclear industry should consider concentrating their technical electives in the nuclear engineering area. Suggested courses include:

    • NSEG 3145/NSEG 3146 – Fundamentals of Nuclear Engineering – Parts I (Fall) and II (Spring)
    • NSEG 3604 – Radiation Detection and Shielding
    • ME4984 – Nuclear Power Plant Operations
    • ME 4984 – Reactor Thermal Hydraulics
    • ME 4984 – Nuclear Fuel Cycle
    • MSE 4984 – Nuclear Materials
    • ME 4974/ME 4994 – Independent Study/Undergraduate Research on a nuclear-related project (requires college and departmental approval on an individual basis).

Mechanical engineering students can also choose to work on a nuclear engineering-related senior design project (ME 4015/ME 4016). Note that ME and MSE 4984 course numbers will change when courses receive final University approval as permanent courses; the subject code will eventually change to NSEG.
For more information, please contact Mark Pierson, the faculty member leading the Nuclear Engineering Program.

Math (requires 9 credits of math courses beyond the required courses for an ME degree; courses can be selected to also count as ME technical electives); please see the Math Minor Listing in the Undergraduate Catalog for more information.

Industrial Design (requires 18 credits total including a 6 credit summer studio; 6 credits (IDS2034 & IDS2044) may also count as List #2 technical electives); please see the Industrial Design website for more information.

Green Engineering (requires 18 credits which can count towards technical electives and Area 7); please see the Green Engineering website for more information.

Engineering Science & Mechanics (requires 12 credits which may also count as technical electives); please see the Minor in Mechanics requirements for more information.

Physics (requires 16 credits of physics courses beyond the required courses for an ME degree; courses can be selected to also count as ME technical electives); please see the Physics Minor Checksheet for more information.

Business (requires minimum of 24 credits beyond the required courses for an ME degree if ECON2005/2006 are taken as Area 3 electives); please see the Business minor checksheet for more information.

Students can double major in any two majors as long as they meet the requirements for both degrees. Please see the Graduation Requirement listings page for checksheets summarizing the requirements for any major at Virginia Tech. Students wishing to double major in two similar majors (like Mechanical Engineering and Aerospace Engineering) should consider a bachelors (BS) degree in one major and a masters degree (MS) in the second major.

If a student meets the requirements for two majors and also earns 30 more credits beyond the credits required for the for the primary major, they can earn a double degree (two separate degrees rather than one degree with both majors listed). Students listing ME as their primary degree would need 160 credits for a double degree. For more information about degrees and second majors, please see the Registrar’s website.

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For More Information

For additional information please contact Sarah Deisher (students last names A-G) , (540) 231-8592, Linda Vick (students last names H-O), (540) 231-7747, or Heather Whedbee (students names P-Z), (540) 231-2555 the Academic and Career Advisors in Mechanical Engineering.

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Information on this website is unofficial. University catalogs and other official documents take precedence over the information that is available here. The material presented here is to aid you in planning your academic program to best fit your interests. Ultimately you are responsible for making sure that you fulfill the graduation requirements. We present these aids to help you achieve your goal of a degree in mechanical engineering.