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Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Undergraduate Program


Q: What courses should I be taking?

A:    The degree track you are in will dictate what courses you should likely be taking. We provide a recommended sequence of courses for obtaining your degree; however, there is some flexibility in the order in which the courses may be taken. You should first consult a faculty advisor before making an alteration. 

Q: Can I double major?

A:    Yes. Some students feel that their interests would be best served by majoring in more than one field. By proper selection of elective courses, multi-majors are possible and encouraged. Both the Bachelor of Arts and the Bachelor of Science, in either Mechanical Engineering, are especially suited for a double-major program.

Students in one of the Bachelor of Science programs who complete the major requirements of a second Bachelor of Science program can have an entry to that effect entered on their transcripts.

Q:    What degree programs can I pursue?

A:    The department has four undergraduate degree programs available:

You can choose either of these degrees; the degree requirement for each is different, and the suggested curricula differ slightly. Either program emphasizes fundamental instruction in several engineering-science subjects to insure that you will be prepared to work effectively in a variety of new and undeveloped fields as well as in the well-established areas of engineering.

Students who complete the four-year program receive either the Bachelor of Arts degree or the Bachelor of Science degree, depending upon the course of study followed.

Q:    What do Mechanical Engineers do?

A:    Mechanical Engineers generally deal with the relations among forces, work or energy, and power in designing systems to improve the human environment. They may work to extract oil from deep within the earth or to send a spacecraft to the moon. The products of their efforts may be automobiles or jet aircraft, nuclear power plants or air conditioning systems, large industrial machinery or household can openers. They are involved in programs to better utilize natural resources of energy and materials as well as to lessen the impact of technology on the environment.
Mechanical Engineers, while strongly oriented towards science, are not scientists. Science is a search for knowledge. The science of mathematics extends abstract knowledge. The science of physics extends organized knowledge of the physical world. In each of these, consideration can be limited to a carefully isolated aspect of reality. The Mechanical Engineer, however, must deal with reality in all its aspects. He or she must not only be competent to use the most classical and the most modern parts of science, but also must be able to devise and make a product which will be used by people. Moreover, the engineer must assume professional responsibility insofar as the safety and well-being of society are affected by those products.

If you have a question you don't find answered above, email your question to mech@rice.edu. We will do our best to answer it!