Human beings have always invented objects to increase their strength and empowerment within the environments in which they evolve. It is this timeless need to draw benefits from nature’s resources and to understand and use the laws governing it, which produced mechanical engineering. A discipline which plays a crucial role in different fields ranging from bicycle derailleurs to airplane jet engines, from rotary printing machines in media centers to prosthetic knees, not to mention numerous energy-conservation techniques.
As a mechanical engineer, you will first and foremost be concerned with designing technical products. To be able to come up with effective solutions for different fields, you will not only have to possess strong skills in solid and fluid mechanics, but also in the field of heat transfer or applied physics. Knowledge which will serve you well for modeling the physical phenomena which you plan to use, in order to understand them better and thus be able to optimize the effectiveness of the products you wish to develop.
In addition to this theoretical command of phenomena, you will also need, these days more than ever, to consistently take account of the environmental impact of your work, notably through introducing the notion of the life cycle to it. For this, you must endlessly rethink the industrial processes in which you are involved, in order to introduce innovations or even revolutions in the way in which you produce, distribute, consume, and recycle.
The skills that are targeted by the training in mechanical engineering can be summarized as follows:
– understanding, adapting quickly, and communicating within a technological, ecological, and economic environment that is changing
– starting with a complex reality, identifying, modeling, and analyzing problems through adopting a scientific, holistic, and multidisciplinary approach
– designing and implementing innovative, effective, and sustainable solutions
– acting like a responsible professional.
Program presentation and study plan
BSc (180 ECTS credits)
The 1st year is mainly focused on acquiring scientific tools such as analysis or physics, and complemented by some more specific classes such as “Introduction to Mechanical Engineering”, “Statics”, and “Metals and Alloys”. The 2nd and 3rd years provide an in-depth treatment of the foundations of mechanical engineering, from automatic-control engineering to thermodynamics and vibration mechanics. A final BSc project, bringing together the different theoretical topics, completes the undergraduate degree.
The MSc offers six areas to choose from: “Aero-hydrodynamics”, “Control and Mechatronics”, “Design and Production”, “Energy”, “Solid and Structural Mechanics”, and “Biomechanics”. Three projects (including the MSc project) make for a very individualized curriculum. The MSc provides the opportunity to include a minor in a transdisciplinary field such as energy, space technology, or biomedical technology. A MSc requiring 150 ECTS credits in “Aerospace Engineering” or “Automobile Engineering” is also offered, leading to a joint degree between EPFL and ISAE (Institut Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace) in Toulouse or TUM (Technische Universität München) in Munich.
Other programs will be open to you after graduating with the BSc degree, in particular some interdisciplinary MSc programs. See our website at master.epfl.ch for further information.
Please note that the information regarding the programs’ structure as well as details of the study plan may be subject to change.
Video: Introduction to Mechanical Engineering
Video: Deirdré Lenoir, student in mechanical engineering
Once you have completed the BSc then the MSc program, you will be ready to enter the professional world. Given the virtually systematic inclusion of mechanical components in our everyday objects, your training in mechanical engineering gives you some very varied openings. Leading the areas of employment which will be open to you is, of course, construction (automobile, naval, aeronautics, or aerospace), the machine industry, engineering firms overseeing large projects, and energy conservation and management.
Many of you will therefore probably join the world of large industry. If you are joining a large company, you will probably go on to specialize either in designing new products or in their production, or perhaps even in marketing, your role then consisting of finding markets and advising clients. You will, however, also have the opportunity to combine all of these roles together, either by joining a smaller institution or by setting up your own organization, as there is no shortage of fields of innovation which need mechanics. It should also be noted that your training easily allows you to think about a career abroad.
Lastly, it is always possible to deepen your knowledge in a specific field by doing a PhD, a path which opens up an academic career to you or a leadership position in the private sector.
Looking for further details about this program? Please check its specific webpages or use the contacts below: