Research for Undergraduates

Undergraduate students are encouraged to participate in faculty research projects as part of their broader educational experience. Students may obtain course credit for research through ME 190 or ME 197 and ME 197 may be used as a technical elective.

To begin, students must find a faculty member with an available project. Faculty webpages are a good starting point for this process. To enroll in ME 197, students must complete a project abstract using a standard template. The abstract must be signed by the project faculty advisor and submitted to the Undergraduate Program Committee chair at least one week prior to the start of the quarter. Both ME 190 and ME 197 require a final project report. Four units of ME 197 can be counted as a tech elective once.


  • A student consult with faculty of interest and the faculty advisor should agree to advise the student for ME 197.
  • Once the agreement is made, prepare ME 197 project abstract form in consultation with the advisor, get advisor’s signature, and submit the form to the undergraduate committee chair for approval. The abstract should include introduction of the project, experimental or calculation plan, method, and expected outcome. The abstract should include ABET matrix provided by the advisor.
  • The student is required to give a 10- to 15-minute presentation during ME 250 seminar series, and the faculty advisor should be present for evaluation. Final project report (exactly 10 pages) is due at the time of presentation. The final report should be student’s own writing and work.

Catalog Descriptions

ME 190. Special Studies (1-5) Individual study, 3-15 hours. Prerequisite(s): consent of instructor, department chair, and Mechanical Engineering Undergraduate Program Committee chair. Individual study to meet special curricular needs. Requires a final written report. Course is repeatable to a maximum of 9 units.

ME 197. Research for Undergraduates (1-4) Outside research, 3-12 hours. Prerequisite(s): consent of instructor and Mechanical Engineering Undergraduate Program Committee chair. Directed research in a particular subject relevant to mechanical engineering. Requires a final written technical report. Course is repeatable to a maximum of 8 units.

ME Freshmen Mentor Program

The Freshmen Mentor Program is a unique resource for first-year students that promotes a strong relationship between students and professors and puts students on a successful path toward a degree in mechanical engineering. Each student is paired with a ME professor as his/her academic mentor who is available to consult on matters related to career planning, understanding engineering in general, and gaining a better appreciation of mechanical engineering. In addition, mentors provide guidance on what it takes to be successful as an engineering student, and provide suggestions so students gain confidence and self-motivation.

Within the first two weeks of classes each quarter, the Office of Student Affairs posts outside the office and on the website a list of ME department mentors, their email addresses and phone numbers. Anytime during the quarter, students may contact faculty mentors to set up an appointment to meet at a mutually convenient time. Students are required to meet with their mentors once a quarter during the freshmen year. Students should receive a signed note and turn it in to the College Freshmen Advisor (Tara Brown) prior to registration for the subsequent quarter.

To learn more about the program and register, please contact Tara Brown at (951) 827-2577.

Senior Design Project

The capstone design experience for students is the two-quarter ME 175 course – the Senior Design Project. This required course allows teams of students to draw upon all of the engineering science and design knowledge they have amassed to address a meaningful design problem. They are expected to define the objectives of the problem, explore possible options, plan and conduct experiments if needed, formulate preliminary solutions, and evaluate the proposed alternatives with respect to economics, feasibility, societal, health and safety impacts, and sustainability.

This approach may require a number of iterations before a final comparative solution is achieved. Senior design projects are always team projects (usually three students). In addition to engineering and design skills, this course also provides the culmination to preparation for many real world experiences including effective written and oral communication skills, profitability evaluation and process optimization, risk analysis, occupational health and safety, environmental and ethical issues, professional and personality issues, the ability to work productively in teams, conducting group meetings, and brainstorming.