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The mission of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering is to educate leaders in engineering and applied sciences through a rigorous graduate program that defines the frontiers of knowledge in our field, and prepare them for careers in academia, industry, and government. Our program emphasizes achieving fundamental understanding in a broad range of topics, a deep understanding in a particular area, and excellent communications skills. The majority of outstanding technical problems in today’s science and engineering require a multi-disciplinary approach, and our department has a strong tradition in defining and pursuing new research areas at the intersection of engineering, physics, chemistry, biological sciences, and applied mathematics.
We offer exciting opportunities for graduate study in areas as diverse as thermal sciences and energy conversion, fluid mechanics, materials science, biomechanics, dynamics and control, underwater vehicles, flight sciences, astronomical instrumentation and space optics, computational and experimental fluid mechanics, lasers and applied physics, propulsion, and environmental technology. In addition, Princeton University is at the forefront of interdisciplinary research, and students are encouraged to sample the opportunities provided by other departments within the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, as well as allied departments and programs outside the Engineering School.
There are normally about 100 students in residence selected from a diverse pool of applicants from around the world. The size of the student population ensures a close association between each student and a faculty adviser that continues from arrival to the completion of the degree program.
Three separate degree programs are offered by the department: Ph.D., M.S.E. and M.Eng. (industry-sponsored). Course performance requirements are the same for all three programs; only the emphasis of the overall plan of study (courses and thesis research) is different.
As a candidate for the doctoral program, the student, in consultation with a faculty adviser and his or her Ph.D. committee, develops an integrated program of study in preparation for a comprehensive general examination. After passing the general examination, the student prepares a dissertation displaying technical mastery of the field and the contributions to the advancement of knowledge, followed by a public presentation of the material to the technical community. Candidates in this program are required to take a minimum of 10 courses throughout their enrollment, with eight of the courses being taken in the first three semesters. Candidates are also required to be an assistant in teaching for a minimum of three semesters after passing the general examination. The Ph.D. program typically lasts five years and includes full financial support.
With the permission of the Departmental Graduate Committee and the Graduate School, students in good standing in the Ph.D. program may transfer to the M.S.E. program to satisfy newly realized goals.
Each candidate is expected to demonstrate competence in certain core subjects to the satisfaction of the department as a whole. The basic topics vary for individual programs, but students are expected to take eight courses for a grade and perform preliminary research during the first three semesters prior to standing for the general exam. Two of the courses must be in mathematics and four must be in the student’s primary area of research. Students must achieve a GPA of 3.0 or higher. A student may receive one C in a graduate course and remain in the Ph.D. program. Approved courses from other departments may be taken, and members of these departments may be invited to participate in the general examination.
Ordinarily, students will be given a single oral interview in the fall of their second year by a faculty member chosen by the major group. In case of an interdisciplinary program of study spanning two major areas, separate interviews in both areas should be conducted. A list of available interviewers and their subjects is available from the graduate office. These interviews are intended to explore, in-depth, the student's knowledge of a subject area, to prepare the student for the general examination, and to identify areas where further study may be necessary.
There is no requirement to pass or fail an interview; interviews are for the benefit of the student to ensure adequate preparation for the subject component of the general exam and to inform the graduate committee of the student’s readiness for the general exam. In some cases of weaker performance, interviewers may request additional time from the student after further studying.
The Ph.D. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering is a certification that the graduating student is well versed in the fundamentals of his or her chosen field, is capable of performing creative, independent research, and has the ability to effectively communicate his or her ideas to a broad audience. The general examination procedure exercises the department’s responsibility for determining a student’s potential to satisfactorily complete a Ph.D. and simultaneously encourages the student to review and consolidate material from various courses and research activities. The general examination process consists of two components: 1) the subject component, an oral examination in the student’s major disciplinary area of study; and 2) the research component, a 45 minute presentation followed by questions on a topic related to the student’s planned Ph.D. program. These are normally taken in January and/or May of the second year.
The Master of Arts (M.A.) degree is normally an incidental degree on the way to full Ph.D. candidacy and is earned after a student successfully passes the general examination.
It is a requirement for students to teach a minimum of three (3) half-time assistant in instruction assignments in order to qualify for their Ph.D.
After successful completion of the general exam, the balance of the program is spent on dissertation research, teaching obligations, and additional courses. Candidates meet with their Ph.D. committee each year to review their research progress.
The culmination of the Ph.D. program is the writing of a thesis on a research topic explored by the student and a presentation of this work in a final public oral examination. The thesis must contain significant and original contributions to the advancement of a field of knowledge. Upon acceptance of the dissertation by the departmental faculty, candidates are admitted to the final public oral examination.
The Ph.D. is awarded after the candidate’s doctoral dissertation has been accepted and the final public oral examination sustained.
Candidates for the M.S.E. program complete seven courses and write an acceptable thesis. The thesis is central to the program and is considered an integral aspect of graduate education in the field. It is the culmination of prior training and research and is expected to address a realistic and important problem. The thesis must be presented in good literary form and be written in good English. The technical quality is also expected to be high and differs from that expected for the Ph.D. only in the quantity of material presented. The M.S.E. program typically covers two years. The number of master’s students admitted each year is limited.
Candidates for this program generally provide their own financial support.
To qualify for the M.S.E., each student must complete all Graduate School requirements, take a minimum of seven courses selected in consultation with the faculty adviser, and submit an acceptable thesis. If only seven courses are taken, then they are to be completed in the first year. Students must achieve a GPA of 3.0 or higher. A student may receive a single C grade and continue in the M.S.E. track.
A thesis is required of all master’s candidates and is the culmination of the student’s program of research conducted under the supervision of a faculty adviser. The M.S.E. thesis must be judged to contain material of publishable quality, presented in correct scholarly form, and written using good English.
The M.Eng. degree program is a non-thesis, coursework-only degree program offered to industry-sponsored candidates. The program may be completed on a part-time basis under one of the following three plans:
The degree does not require a thesis. Typically, the M.Eng. program requires completion of all Graduate School requirements and is awarded on the basis of course performance.
Candidates for this program must provide their own financial support.
The degree requires eight courses and an average grade of B or higher. At least one of those courses may be taken as an independent study project course under the guidance of a specific faculty member. Six of the courses must be in technical areas, with no more than two being independent projects. The balance of the courses should be selected to provide a coherent exploration of a support area. Students are encouraged to develop a curriculum together with their faculty adviser.
There is no teaching in this program.
Howard A. Stone
Michael G. Littman
Clarence W. Rowley
Craig B. Arnold
Emily A. Carter, also Applied and Computational Mathematics
Edgar Y. Choueiri
Mikko P. Haataja
N. Jeremy Kasdin
Chung K. Law
Naomi E. Leonard
Alexander J. Smits
Robert F. Stengel
Alexander Glaser, also Woodrow Wilson School
Daniel M. Nosenchuck
Marcus N. Hultmark
Egemen Kolemen, also Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment
Michael E. Mueller
Daniel A. Steingart, also Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment
Ilhan Aksay, Chemical and Biological Engineering
Elie R. Bou-Zeid, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Nathaniel Fisch, Astrophysical Sciences
Bruce E. Koel, Chemical and Biological Engineering
Jean-Hervé Prévost, Civil and Environmental Engineering
George W. Scherer, Civil and Environmental Engineering
David N. Spergel, Astrophysical Sciences
Salvatore Torquato, Chemistry
Robert J. Vanderbei, Operations Research and Financial Engineering
Courses listed below are graduate-level courses that have been approved by the program’s faculty as well as the Curriculum Subcommittee of the Faculty Committee on the Graduate School as permanent course offerings. Permanent courses may be offered by the department or program on an ongoing basis, depending on curricular needs, scheduling requirements, and student interest. Not listed below are undergraduate courses and one-time-only graduate courses, which may be found for a specific term through the Registrar’s website. Also not listed are graduate-level independent reading and research courses, which may be approved by the Graduate School for individual students.