University General Course Catalog 2022-2023 
    May 27, 2024  

Mechanical Engineering, Ph.D.

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The department currently offers the master of science and doctor of philosophy degrees in mechanical engineering. The department does not have a language requirement for the Ph.D. degree.

The program of courses and research for both the master’s and doctoral degrees is tailored to the background, needs and interests of the individual student.

Current areas of research include:

  • Smart, active, and soft materials: sensing and actuation, stimuli-responsive shape-programmable matter, artificial muscles, biomimetic and soft robotics
  • Advanced manufacturing and materials processing: 3D printing and bioprinting, laser processing, composite materials and structures, tribology and surface science, micro-/nanomanufacturing
  • Micro-/nanoscale transport, energy conversion and storage
  • Theoretical and computational mechanics: micromechanics, multi-scale modeling of material electrical, chemical, thermal, and mechanical properties, continuum mechanics
  • Experimental mechanics: in situ microscale mechanical testing, plasticity and fatigue of high-strength, light-weight alloys
  • Elasticity, dynamics, and control of structures: fluid-structure interaction, atomic force microscopy
  • Data-driven and nonlinear control, bioinspired sensory integration
  • Advanced multi-phase turbomachinery
  • Rarefied gas, large fire, and augmented heat transfer, porous media heat and mass transfer
  • Nuclear packaging safety

Current areas of research can be found on the department website -

Contact Information

Matteo Aureli, Ph.D., Graduate Program Director
Department of Mechanical Engineering
(775) 784-6973

Graduate Handbook *

Program Objectives/Student Learning Outcomes

Our program is directed towards preparing motivated students to become professionally competent and capable of independent, self-directed research in one of several sub-disciplines of mechanical engineering, including solid mechanics, materials, structures, advanced manufacturing, fluid mechanics, heat transfer, thermodynamics, nuclear and renewable energy, dynamics, robotics, and controls.

Admission Requirements

We expect applicants to have a grade point average of 3.0 (4.0 scale) or better for the B.S. degree program or the last two years of course work for MS program applicants; and a minimum GPA of 3.25 (4.0 scale) for Ph.D. program applicants.

We expect the GRE scores of Verbal + Quantitative to be 300 (1100 in old 800 point scale) or higher. We prefer applicants with scores above 70th percentile in the Quantitative GRE exam (>155, or >700 in old 800 point scale).

Students whose native language is not English, must take the TOEFL or IELTS unless they have completed BS/MS degrees at an English speaking university. The minimum acceptable score for applicants is 79 for internet-based TOEFL (213 computer based or 550 paper based), or 6.5 for IELTS.

For MS and PhD program applicants, research and/or industrial experience, three letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose are important parts of the application package.

I. Program Requirements

Students must complete coursework fulfilling the UNR Graduate School’s requirements for a Ph.D. degree. The degree requires a minimum of 60 graduate credits, comprising 40 credits of coursework and 20 credits of dissertation research. At least 18 units of 700-level courses, exclusive of dissertation units, are required for a doctoral degree.

In addition to coursework, Ph.D. candidates work closely with a thesis advisor to determine a course of study for their dissertation topics. Near the end of the first year of formal coursework, each candidate must pass a qualifying examination to demonstrate mastery of a wide range of topics in mechanical engineering. An individual dissertation committee is then established to aid progress. A comprehensive examination is required, during which the candidate is examined on both the completed work and the proposed work towards the completion of the dissertation. Finally, during the Ph.D. defense, conducted after all other requirements are met, the candidate is examined on the dissertation itself and possibly on related topics.

A. Coursework (39 units)

Please contact your graduate advisor for course approval.

B. Dissertation (20 units)

C. Comprehensive Examination (1 unit)

II. Total Units (60 units)


For more information, refer to the Graduate Study Admission Requirements  section of this catalog or contact the graduate program director.

Undergraduate Prerequisites

Incoming students should have a background in the core areas of mechanical engineering, including statics, thermodynamics, dynamic systems and control, fluid mechanics, and solid mechanics. For students lacking in this background, the Mechanical Engineering Graduate Committee will specify undergraduate and graduate courses that must be taken before completion of the degree program.

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