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Academics - Mechanical Engineering

Prof. R. DeJong and the students in ENGR 305 perform stress tests on stackable furniture from the Calvin dorms.


Mechanical engineers work in teams with many other professionals, helping to convert ideas into real products and systems, e.g. tools, engines, and machines. Mechanical engineering is one of the broadest engineering disciplines. For example, while an electrical engineer might design the electronics and circuitry of a microwave oven, a mechanical engineer will be involved in specifying the geometries and materials of all the oven parts and how they will be assembled. Another mechanical engineer might be involved in using a computer to perform mathematical analysis, while yet another might set up a laboratory testing rig to verify that the oven will perform as expected. Additional mechanical engineers will then be needed to design the machines that make the oven parts, and oversee production to ensure the quality of the final product.

Mechanical engineers are involved in three main areas:

  • machine design
  • energy production (e.g., electricity from renewable and fossil fuels), energy consumption (by machines, appliances, lights, etc.), and energy efficiency
  • manufacturing

Virtually every object in our lives has been touched by mechanical engineers. They design many aspects of mobile phones, cars, furnaces, airplanes, sports equipment, and computers. They run power plants, factories, and airports.

Some of the technical specialties listed by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) include nuclear engineering, fuels and combustion technologies, microelectromechanical systems, noise control and acoustics, bioengineering, and aerospace engineering, just to name a few of the industries and technologies of interest to the mechanical engineering discipline.

Program Overview

Freshman & Sophomore Year

The first two years include general introductory engineering, physics, chemistry, mathematics and humanities courses. The engineering courses will give you a broad base of engineering skills, and along with your other classes, will provide the foundation for more advanced study. At the end of your second year, you will apply to Calvin’s engineering program and formally select mechanical engineering as your concentration.

Many of the courses in the first two years include lab work and explore engineering principles in practical applications. The very first engineering design course includes a service-learning project -- you will have to opportunity to dive right into solving real-world problems for real people.

Junior & Senior Year

At this point in the curriculum you will begin to build some advanced expertise in mechanical engineering topics. You will take mechanical concentration-specificengineering classes and labs, some upper level elective courses, as well as continuing with humanities and fine arts. You'll study:

  • Solids
  • Strength of materials (how they react to forces)
  • Machine dynamics (how things move)
  • Machine design (making them work)
  • Instrumentation and measurement devices
  • Manufacturing systems
  • Thermal Fluid Sciences
  • Heating and cooling for houses, buildings, cars, and other equipment
  • Engine thermodynamics
  • Aerodynamic design for vehicles, aircraft, and wind turbines
  • Water systems and fluid flow
  • Power generation technologies and their efficiency

Senior Project

Your senior year will include a capstone design course in which you work with a team of students (not limited to the mechanical concentration) to complete a design project effectively integrating much of your college education.

Summer Internships

We work to place students in a variety of internships at local and international companies to gain practical work experience.