The Department of Mechanical Engineering offers advanced instruction and research opportunities in a variety of areas of current interest in mechanical engineering.


The mission of the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science is to expand knowledge and advance technology through research, while educating students to become leaders informed by an engineering foundation.

Contact the Department

Department of Mechanical Engineering
Columbia University
500 West 120th Street
Mudd 220
New York, NY 10027
Phone: 212-854-2966
Fax: 212-854-3304
Email:  mece-admin@columbia.edu

We offer a full range of degree programs, from an undergraduate program leading to the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree, to graduate programs leading to the Master of Science (M.S.), Doctor of Engineering Science (Eng.Sc.D.), and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees.

The department is home to such diverse research activities as biomechanics, mechanics of materials, fluid mechanics, heat transfer, control and robotics, manufacturing, energy systems, MEMS, and nanotechnology.

Current cutting-edge research programs include:

  • Contact mechanics, lubrication of diarthrodial joints, and cartilage tissue engineering
  • Material constitutive behavior at the micro- and mesolength scales
  • Iterative learning control and repetitive control
  • Nonlinear/hybrid/distributed/embedded systems and control of autonomous vehicles, mobile robots, and air and ocean robots
  • Laser materials processing
  • Medical robotics and robotic surgery
  • Extraction of carbon dioxide from air, distributed sensors for energy and environmental systems, and micropower generation
  • Nanostructures for photonics; nanomaterials such as nanotubes and nanowires and their applications, especially in nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS)
  • Interfacial phenomena in the presence of drops, bubbles and microspheres; and microfluidics for biological applications

Through partnerships with other departments, both at the School of Engineering and Applied Science, as well as the Lamont-Doherty Geological Laboratory and the Columbia University Medical Center, the Mechanical Engineering Department actively participates in a number of leading-edge centers for interdisciplinary research.

The undergraduate program is ABET accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, http://www.abet.org and also gives students the flexibility to take electives within the engineering school and at Columbia College. There are numerous opportunities for students at all levels to participate in cutting-edge research projects. Students also participate in local chapters of clubs such as the ASME, Solar-Splash, SAE, Engineers without Borders and AIAA.

Student Outcomes:

We strive to ensure that our students successfully attain the following:

  1. an ability to identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics
  2. an ability to apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration of public health, safety, and welfare, as well as global, cultural, social, environmental, and economic factors
  3. an ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences
  4. an ability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgments, which must consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts
  5. an ability to function effectively on a team whose members together provide leadership, create a collaborative and inclusive environment, establish goals, plan tasks, and meet objectives
  6. an ability to develop and conduct appropriate experimentation, analyze and interpret data, and use engineering judgment to draw conclusions
  7. an ability to acquire and apply new knowledge as needed, using appropriate learning strategies

Mechanical Engineering at Columbia

The Mechanical Engineering Department at Columbia was established in 1897. It has enjoyed a national and international reputation for much of its history. Between 1950 and 1980, professors Dudley D. Fuller, Harold G. Elrod, and Vittorio Castelli were the foremost leaders in the field of lubrication theory and practice. In the 1960s, Professor Ferdinand Freudenstein (known as the "Father of Modern Kinematics"), revolutionized the field of mechanical design by ushering in the computer age in kinematics synthesis and the design of mechanism. In more recent times, the department has been known for its research contributions in the fields of control theory, manufacturing, thermofluids, and biomechanics. Faculty members have given keynote lectures in national and international conferences and received best-paper awards and professional-society awards. All faculty members are active in research with many serving as editors and associate editors of professional journals and as leaders in professional societies.

We are a small department with an undergraduate student-faculty ratio of less than 10 to 1 and a graduate ratio of about 7 to 1. This allows our students to participate actively in the learning process and provides opportunities for involvement in design competitions, projects, and research. The mechanical-engineering program at Columbia University is designed to allow students to take advantage of the unique and outstanding liberal-arts education provided by Columbia College. An undergraduate has 27 points of nontechnical requirements and many of our faculty members have received teaching awards.

The undergraduate laboratories occupy an area of approximately 6,000 square feet of floor space and are the site of experiments ranging from basic instrumentation and fundamental exercises to more advanced experiments using its state-of-the-art equipment. The Computer-Aided Design Lab has software tools for design, CAD, FEM, and CFD. The Mechatronics Laboratory has facilities for the construction and testing of analog and digital electronic circuits and gives students the opportunity for hands-on experience with microcomputer-embedded control of electromechanical systems.

Research facilities are located within individual or group research laboratories in the department, and these facilities are being continually upgraded. To view the current research activities, please visit the various laboratories within the research section of the department’s Web site. Through their participation in NSF-MRSEC, the faculty and students also have access to shared instrumentation and the Clean Room located in the Shapiro Center for Engineering and Physical Science Research. In recent years, new research laboratories have been added for nanotube science, optical nanostructures, nanomechanics, nonlinear and autonomous vehicle control, medical robotics, microscale transport phenomena, and microfluidics.