Mechanical Engineering, B.S. (Altoona)

Program Code: MEAL_BS

Program Description

Mechanical Engineering is one of the broadest engineering disciplines and is central in many new technological developments. Mechanical engineers create things that help improve the health, happiness and safety of our everyday lives such as biomedical devices, aircraft and cars, and ways to store renewable energies. Mechanical engineering is divided into two broad areas: mechanical systems and thermal systems. Mechanical systems include the design of mechanisms and the analysis of the strength and wear of materials. Thermal systems include methods of energy conversions, heat transfer and fluid flow.

What is Mechanical Engineering?

Mechanical engineering is the largest and broadest engineering discipline. It uses a combination of physics, chemistry, mathematics, and materials science to study mechanical, fluid, and thermal systems. Mechanical engineers are problem solvers: They use their foundational knowledge to apply scientific and engineering methods to the design, construction, and testing of products and components to ensure that they are safe, reliable, and cost effective. Mechanical engineering differs from mechanical engineering technology in that it emphasizes the math and science behind the theoretical development of engineering analysis and design process principles rather than the application of these principles. Mechanical engineers design everything from athletic equipment, medical devices, theme park rides, and personal computers to engines and power plants.

You Might Like This Program If...

You think outside the box to develop solutions to everyday problems. Mechanical engineers contribute to our health, happiness and safety, and often change the way we think about the world.

Entrance to Major

In order to be eligible for entrance to this major, students must satisfy the following requirements by the end of the semester during which the admission to major process is carried out:

Degree Requirements

For the Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering, a minimum of 131 credits is required:

Requirement Credits
General Education 45
Requirements for the Major 113-114

27 of the 45 credits for General Education are included in the Requirements for the Major. This includes: 9 credits of GN courses; 6 credits of GQ courses; 3 credits of GS courses; 9 credits of GWS courses.

General Education

Connecting career and curiosity, the General Education curriculum provides the opportunity for students to acquire transferable skills necessary to be successful in the future and to thrive while living in interconnected contexts. General Education aids students in developing intellectual curiosity, a strengthened ability to think, and a deeper sense of aesthetic appreciation. These are requirements for all baccalaureate students and are often partially incorporated into the requirements of a program. For additional information, see the General Education Requirements section of the Bulletin and consult your academic adviser.

The keystone symbol Keystone/General Education Course appears next to the title of any course that is designated as a General Education course. Program requirements may also satisfy General Education requirements and vary for each program.

Foundations (grade of C or better is required.)

  • Quantification (GQ): 6 credits
  • Writing and Speaking (GWS): 9 credits

Knowledge Domains

  • Arts (GA): 6 credits
  • Health and Wellness (GHW): 3 credits
  • Humanities (GH): 6 credits
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS): 6 credits
  • Natural Sciences (GN): 9 credits

Integrative Studies (may also complete a Knowledge Domain requirement)

  • Inter-Domain or Approved Linked Courses: 6 credits

University Degree Requirements

First Year Engagement

All students enrolled in a college or the Division of Undergraduate Studies at University Park, and the World Campus are required to take 1 to 3 credits of the First-Year Seminar, as specified by their college First-Year Engagement Plan.

Other Penn State colleges and campuses may require the First-Year Seminar; colleges and campuses that do not require a First-Year Seminar provide students with a first-year engagement experience.

First-year baccalaureate students entering Penn State should consult their academic adviser for these requirements.

Cultures Requirement    

6 credits are required and may satisfy other requirements

  • United States Cultures: 3 credits
  • International Cultures: 3 credits

Writing Across the Curriculum

3 credits required from the college of graduation and likely prescribed as part of major requirements.

Total Minimum Credits

A minimum of 120 degree credits must be earned for a baccalaureate degree. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 credits. Students should consult with their college or department adviser for information on specific credit requirements.

Quality of Work

Candidates must complete the degree requirements for their major and earn at least a 2.00 grade-point average for all courses completed within their degree program.

Limitations on Source and Time for Credit Acquisition

The college dean or campus chancellor and program faculty may require up to 24 credits of course work in the major to be taken at the location or in the college or program where the degree is earned. Credit used toward degree programs may need to be earned from a particular source or within time constraints (see Senate Policy 83-80). For more information, check the Suggested Academic Plan for your intended program.

Requirements for the Major

To graduate, a student enrolled in the major must earn a grade of C or better in each course designated by the major as a C-required course, as specified by Senate Policy 82-44.

Prescribed Courses
CMPSC 200Programming for Engineers with MATLAB Keystone/General Education Course3
IE 312Product Design and Manufacturing Processes3
MATH 220Matrices Keystone/General Education Course2-3
MATH 231Calculus of Several Variables2
MATSE 259Properties and Processing of Engineering Materials3
ME 390Academic and Career Development for Mechanical Engineers0.5
ME 490Professional Development for Mechanical Engineers0.5
Prescribed Courses: Require a grade of C or better
CHEM 110Chemical Principles I Keystone/General Education Course3
EDSGN 100Cornerstone Engineering Design3
EMCH 211Statics3
EMCH 212Dynamics3
EMCH 213Strength of Materials3
ENGL 202CEffective Writing: Technical Writing Keystone/General Education Course3
MATH 140Calculus With Analytic Geometry I Keystone/General Education Course4
MATH 141Calculus with Analytic Geometry II Keystone/General Education Course4
MATH 251Ordinary and Partial Differential Equations4
ME 300Engineering Thermodynamics I3
ME 320Fluid Flow3
ME 330Computational Tools3
ME 340Mechanical Engineering Design Methodology3
ME 348Circuit Analysis, Instrumentation, and Statistics4
ME 360Mechanical Design3
ME 370Vibration of Mechanical Systems3
ME 410Heat Transfer3
ME 450Modeling of Dynamic Systems3
ME 454Mechatronics3
PHYS 211General Physics: Mechanics Keystone/General Education Course4
PHYS 212General Physics: Electricity and Magnetism Keystone/General Education Course4
Additional Courses
Select 1 credit of First-Year Seminar1
Select 3 credits from the following:3
Introduction to Human Physiology Keystone/General Education Course
Experimental Chemistry I Keystone/General Education Course
and General Physics: Wave Motion and Quantum Physics Keystone/General Education Course
Chemical Principles II Keystone/General Education Course
Select 3 credits from the following:3
Principles of Economics Keystone/General Education Course
Introductory Microeconomic Analysis and Policy Keystone/General Education Course
Introductory Macroeconomic Analysis and Policy Keystone/General Education Course
Select 3 credits from the following:3
Mechanical Systems Design Project
Thermal Systems Design Project
Advanced Vehicle Design I
and Advanced Vehicle Design II
Select 2 credits from the following:2
Experimental Determination of Mechanical Response of Materials
Heat Transfer Laboratory
Fluids Laboratory
Dynamic Systems Laboratory
Vibrations Laboratory
Additional Courses: Require a grade of C or better
CAS 100Effective Speech Keystone/General Education Course3
or CAS 100A Effective Speech Keystone/General Education Course
or CAS 100B Effective Speech Keystone/General Education Course
ENGL 15Rhetoric and Composition Keystone/General Education Course3
or ENGL 30H Honors Rhetoric and Composition Keystone/General Education Course
Supporting Courses and Related Areas
Select 3 credits in a 400-level ME Technical Elective course from department list excluding ME 410, ME 440W, ME 441W, ME 442W, ME 443W, ME 450, ME 454, ME 490, ME 494, and ME 4963
Select 6 credits in Engineering Technical Elective courses from department list6
Select 3 credits in General Technical Elective courses from department list 1,23

Academic Advising

The objectives of the university’s academic advising program are to help advisees identify and achieve their academic goals, to promote their intellectual discovery, and to encourage students to take advantage of both in-and out-of class educational opportunities in order that they become self-directed learners and decision makers.

Both advisers and advisees share responsibility for making the advising relationship succeed. By encouraging their advisees to become engaged in their education, to meet their educational goals, and to develop the habit of learning, advisers assume a significant educational role. The advisee's unit of enrollment will provide each advisee with a primary academic adviser, the information needed to plan the chosen program of study, and referrals to other specialized resources.



Grant A. Risha, Ph.D.
Professor and Program Chair, Mechanical Engineering
203 Force Advanced Technology Center
3000 Ivyside Park
Altoona, PA 16601


Majid Chatsaz
Assistant Professor, Engineering
120 Ridge View Drive
Dunmore, PA 18512

University Park

Lori Yarger
Student Curriculum Coordinator
140 Reber Building
University Park, PA 16802

Suggested Academic Plan

The suggested academic plan(s) listed on this page are the plan(s) that are in effect during the 2021-22 academic year. To access previous years' suggested academic plans, please visit the archive to view the appropriate Undergraduate Bulletin edition (Note: the archive only contain suggested academic plans beginning with the 2018-19 edition of the Undergraduate Bulletin).

Mechanical Engineering, B.S. at Altoona Campus

The course series listed below provides only one of the many possible ways to move through this curriculum. The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. This plan should be used in conjunction with your degree audit (accessible in LionPATH as either an Academic Requirements or What If report). Please consult with a Penn State academic adviser on a regular basis to develop and refine an academic plan that is appropriate for you.

First Year
First-Year Seminar1Science Elective (see below)3
ENGL 15‡†3ECON 102 or 104 (GS)3
EDSGN 100*#3MATH 141*‡#†4
General Education Course (GA, GH, or GS)3General Education Course (GA, GH, or GS)3
MATH 140*‡#†4PHYS 211*#†4
CHEM 110*#†3 
 17 17
Second Year
CMPSC 2003EMCH 212*3
CAS 100A or 100B‡†3EMCH 213*3
EMCH 211*3ME 300*3
MATH 251*4MATH 2312
PHYS 212*†4MATH 2202
 General Education Course (GA, GH, GS)3
 17 16
Third Year
IE 3123ME 454*3
MATSE 2593ENGL 202C‡†3
ME 330*3ME 340*3
ME 370*3ME 360*3
ME 348*4ME 320*3
ME 3900.5ME 4900.5
 General Education Course (GHW)1.5
 16.5 17
Fourth Year
Engineering Technical Elective (ETE)3ME 440W3
ME 410*3General Education Course (GA, GH, or GS)3
ME 450*3General Education Course (GA, GH, or GS)3
Mechanical Engineering Technical Elective (METE)3General Technical Elective (GTE)3
ME 315, 325, 355, 375, or EMCH 316 (Mechanical Engineering Lab)1ME 315, 325, 355, 375, or EMCH 316 (Mechanical Engineering Lab)1
General Education Course (GHW)1.5Engineering Technical Elective (ETE)3
 14.5 16
Total Credits 131

University Requirements and General Education Notes:

US and IL are abbreviations used to designate courses that satisfy University Requirements (United States and International Cultures).

W, M, X, and Y are the suffixes at the end of a course number used to designate courses that satisfy University Writing Across the Curriculum requirement.

GWS, GQ, GHW, GN, GA, GH, and GS are abbreviations used to identify General Education program courses. General Education includes Foundations (GWS and GQ) and Knowledge Domains (GHW, GN, GA, GH, GS, and Integrative Studies). Foundations courses (GWS and GQ) require a grade of ‘C’ or better.

Integrative Studies courses are required for the General Education program. N is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate an Inter-Domain course and Z is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate a Linked course.

All incoming Schreyer Honors College first-year students at University Park will take ENGL 137H/CAS 137H in the fall semester and ENGL 138T/CAS 138T in the spring semester. These courses carry the GWS designation and replace both ENGL 30H and CAS 100. Each course is 3 credits.

College Notes:

  • Science elective choices: CHEM 112, BIOL 141, or CHEM 111 and PHYS 214 (3 credits total)
  • An Engineering Technical Elective is any three credit, 400-level engineering course NOT required for the major.
  • To graduate, two of the following lab courses must be taken: ME 315, ME 325, ME 355, ME 375, and EMCH 316.
  • A Mechanical Engineering Technical Elective (METE) is any three‐credit, 400‐level ME course that is not required for the major. ME 494 or ME 496 may not be used.
  • Three credits of co-op may also be used for the GTE after completion of three co-op rotations, internships, or a combination of both.
  • Students must take 3 credits of United States Cultures (US) and 3 credits of International Cultures (IL) and 6 credits integrative studies (Inter-Domain or Linked) in conjunction with General Education GA, GH, GS courses courses.

Career Paths

Penn State's mechanical engineering curriculum offers many opportunities to gain hands-on experience in the profession. From experiential laboratory components to a series of design courses, our program prepares you for entering industry or going on to graduate school. The design component of the curriculum culminates in an industry-sponsored senior design project, in which you'll work in a team to solve a real-world issue.


Mechanical engineering graduates go on to work in a diverse range of industries for large multinational companies and small local firms. Mechanical engineers are well prepared to work as managers due to their broad backgrounds and creative problem-solving skills. Our graduates regularly accept positions at Fortune 500 companies, such as Ingersoll Rand, Boeing, Toshiba-Westinghouse, General Electric, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Dow Chemical, ExxonMobil, Procter & Gamble, United Technologies Corporation, and Johnson & Johnson.


Opportunities for Graduate Studies

If you want to work with renowned faculty, scientists, and engineers, the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering is a great place for you. We are one of the nation's largest engineering departments with more than 50 full-time faculty, numerous research staff, visiting faculty, scientists, and more than 300 graduate students. Research funding comes from industry and government sources, including the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, the Army, the Air Force, and NASA. Our graduates are known for their ability to find high-level positions in national research centers and laboratories as well as postdoctoral and tenure-track positions in top-tier research universities.


Professional Resources



203 Force Advanced Technology Center
3000 Ivyside Park
Altoona, PA 16601


120 Ridge View Drive
Dunmore, PA 18512

University Park

140 Reber Building
University Park, PA 16802