Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics PhD

Major: Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics
Degree Awarded: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Calendar Type: Quarter
Minimum Required Credits: 90.0 
Co-op Option: None
Classification of Instructional (CIP) code: 14.1901
Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code: 17-2141

About the Program

The Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics (MEM) Department offers a PhD degree. The courses often associate with one or more areas of specialization: design and manufacturing, mechanics, systems and control, and thermal and fluid sciences. The mechanical engineering field is rapidly changing due to ongoing advances in modern science and technology. Effective mechanical engineers must possess expertise in mechanical engineering core subjects, interdisciplinary skills, teamwork skills, as well as entrepreneurial and managerial abilities. The degree programs are designed so students can learn the state-of-the-art knowledge now, and have the foundation to acquire new knowledge as they develop in future.     

The General (Aptitude) Test of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required for applicants pursuing full-time study.

The PhD degree program is offered for full-time students only and is a research intensive program. The research areas include, but are not limited to, bio-engineering, energy systems, high performance materials, nanotechnology, plasma science and engineering, and robotics. 

Admission Requirements

Applicants must meet the graduate requirements for admission to Drexel University. Students holding a bachelor's degree in a science or engineering discipline other than mechanical engineering are advised to take several undergraduate courses as preparation for graduate studies. Though these courses are not counted toward the required credits for the degree, they also must be listed in the student's plan of study. Outstanding students with a GPA of at least 3.5 in their master’s program will be considered for admission to the program leading to the doctor of philosophy degree in mechanical engineering.

Degree Requirements 

Outstanding students with a GPA of at least 3.5 in their master’s program will be considered for admission to the program leading to the Doctor of Philosophy degree in mechanical engineering.

PhD Course Requirements
At least 90.0 credits are required for the PhD degree. The master’s degree is not a prerequisite for the PhD, but does count as 45.0 credits toward the 90.0 credit requirement.

For students entering the PhD program with a prior MS degree:

  • 45.0 credits of graduate courses out of which 18.0 credits are graduate courses exclusive of independent study and dissertation. If the MS degree was not from Drexel's Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics (MEM) Department, 12.0 of these 18.0 credits must be MEM graduate courses (600-level or above). The remaining 27.0 credits consist of a combination of dissertation, independent study, and additional advanced coursework consistent with the approved plan of study. 

For students entering the PhD program with a BS degree but without a prior master's degree:

  • 90.0 credits of graduate courses. 45.0 of these 90.0 credits must satisfy the MS in Mechanical Engineering degree requirements. The remaining 45.0 credits must satisfy the requirements above.

PhD Candidacy Examination
A graduate student in the PhD program needs be nominated by his/her supervising adviser to take the candidacy examination. A student who enters the PhD program with a prior MS degree must take the Candidacy Examination within the first year after entry to the PhD program. A student who enters the PhD program without a prior MS degree must take the Candidacy Examination within 2 years after entry to the PhD program.

The Candidacy Examination consists of two components: A course-component examination and a research-component examination. The student must demonstrate excellence in both components. The research-component examination consists of a written report and an oral presentation. The Candidacy Committee selects three or more research papers in the student’s declared research area for student to conduct a critical review. In three weeks the student submits a written report. One week after the written report is submitted the student makes an oral presentation. The presentation is followed by questions by the Committee. The goals of the questions: To evaluate the student’s knowledge in the scientific fields related to the research area, including related background and fundamental material, and the student’s ability to integrate information germane to success in research. Additional details are given in the Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics Graduate Program Manual.

Thesis Proposal
At least one year prior to graduation, the PhD candidate must give a thesis proposal to the dissertation advisory committee. The student must submit a written proposal and make a presentation. The written proposal normally includes: abstract, introduction, detailed literature review, preliminary results, proposed research tasks and timetable. The committee will approve/reject the thesis topic, the scope of work and the general method of attack.

Thesis Defense
A final examination consisting of a presentation and defense of the research dissertation is required, before the PhD degree is granted. 

Further details can be obtained from the department's Graduate Programs Manual.


Advanced Design and Manufacturing Laboratory
This laboratory provides research opportunities in design methodology, computer-aided design, analysis and manufacturing, and materials processing and manufacturing. Facilities include various computers and software, I-DEAS, Pro/E,ANSYS, MasterCAM, Mechanical DeskTop, SurfCAM, Euclid, Strim, ABQUS, and more.The machines include two Sanders Model Maker rapid prototyping machines, a BridgePort CNC Machining Center, a BOY 220 injection molding machine, an Electra high-temperature furnace for metal sintering, infiltration, and other heat treatment.

Biofabrication Laboratory
Utilizes cells or biologics as basic building blocks in which biological models, systems, devices and products are manufactured. Biofabrication techniques encompass a broad range of physical, chemical, biological, and/or engineering processes, with various applications in tissue science and engineering, regenerative medicine, disease parthenogenesis and drug testing studies, biochips and biosensors, cell printing, patterning and assembly, and organ printing.

The Biofabrication Lab at Drexel University integrates computer-aided tissue engineering, modern design and manufacturing, biomaterials and biology in modeling, design and biofabrication of tissue scaffolds, tissue constructs, micro-organ, tissue models. The ongoing research focuses on bio-tissue modeling, bio-blueprint modeling, scaffold informatics modeling, biomimetic design of tissue scaffold, additive manufacturing of tissue scaffolds, cell printing and organ printing.

Biological Systems Analysis Laboratory
The research in the Laboratory for Biological Systems Analysis involves the integration of biology with systems level engineering analysis and design, with an emphasis on: (1) the development of robotic systems that borrow from nature's designs and use novel technologies to achieve superior performance and function; and (2) the use of system identification techniques to evaluate the functional performance of animal physiological systems under natural, behavioral conditions. Facilities include rapid prototyping machines, compliant material manufacturing, mold making facilities, and a traditional machine shop and electronics workshop.

Biomechanics Laboratory
Emphasis in this laboratory is placed on understanding the mechanical properties of human joints, characterization of the mechanical properties of biological materials, studies of human movements, and design and development of artificial limbs. Facilities include a 3-D kinematic measuring system, Instron testing machine, and microcomputers for data acquisition and processing. Additional biomechanical laboratory facilities are available at Moss Rehab Hospital.

Combustion Diagnostics Laboratory
High-speed cameras, spectrometers, and laser systems are used to conduct research in low temperature hydrocarbon oxidation, cool flames, and plasma-assisted ignition and combustion. Research in optical diagnostic development is conducted in this lab with a specific focus on tools to measure small peroxy radicals.

Combustion, Fuel Chemistry, and Emissions Laboratory
Emphasis in this laboratory is placed on developing an understanding of both the chemical and physical factors that control and, hence, can be used to tailor combustion processes for engineering applications. Facilities include two single cylinder research engines, a pressurized flow reactor (PFR) facility, flat flame and slot burner systems, and complete analytical and monitoring instrumentation. The engine systems are used to study the effects of operating variables, fuel type, ambient conditions, and control devices on engine performance and emissions. The PFR facility is used for detailed kinetic studies of hydrocarbon pyrolysis and oxidation processes.

Complex Fluids and Multiphase Transport Laboratory
The research focus of this lab lies at the interface of thermal-fluid sciences, nano materials, and colloid and surface sciences. We apply these fundamental sciences to advance energy conversion and storage systems, to provide effective thermal management solutions, and to enable scalable additive nanomanufacturing. Facilities include materials printing systems, fluorescence microscope and imaging systems, complex fluid characterization, microfluidics and heat transfer testers, coating and solar cell testing devices, electrochemical characterization, and high performance computing facilities. 

Dynamic Multifunctional Materials Laboratory
The focus of theDynamic Multifuncational Materials Laboratory (DMML) is mechanics of materials; namely fracture and failure mechanisms under extreme conditions and their correlation to meso- and microstructural characteristics. Utilizing highly integrated experimental facilities such as a Kolsky (split-Hopkinson pressure bar), single-stage, and two stage light-gas gun, complex material behavior is deconstructed into dominant time and length scales associated with the energetics of damage evolution. In-situ laser and optical diagnostics such as caustics, interferometry techniques, schlieren visualization and virtual grid method, are used to investigate coupled field properties of multifunctional materials with the goal of not only analyzing and understanding behavior, but ultimately tailoring material properties for specific applications.

Electrochemical Energy Systems Laboratory
The Electrochemical Energy Systems Laboratory (ECSL) is specializes in the design, diagnostics and characterization of next generation electrochemical energy conversion and storage systems. Current areas of research include flow-assisted supercapacitors, next generation flow battery technology and fuel cells for transportation, stationary and portable applications. ECSL utilizes a comprehensive approach, including: advanced diagnostics, system design, materials characterization, and computational modeling of electrochemical energy systems. The core mission of ECSL is to develop novel diagnostic and computational tools to understand critical issues in flow-assisted electrochemical systems and enable better system design. Due to the complex nature of these systems, our research is highly interdisciplinary and spans the interface of transport phenomena, materials characterization, electrochemistry and system engineering.

Heat Transfer Laboratory
The heat transfer laboratory is outfitted with an array of instrumentation and equipment for conducting single- and multi-phase heat transfer experiments in controlled environments. Present efforts are studying the heat and mass transfer processes in super-critical fluids and binary refrigerants.

Lab-on-a-Chip and BioMEMS Lab
Develops miniature devices for biological and medical applications using microfabrication and microfluidics technologies. Our research projects have highly multidisciplinary nature and thus require the integration of engineering, science, biology and medicine. Projects are conducted in close collaboration with biologists and medical doctors. Our research methodology includes design and fabrication of miniature devices, experimental characterization, theoretical analysis, and numerical simulation.

Microcomputer Controls Laboratory
This laboratory provides an environment conducive to appreciating aspects of systems and control through hands-on experiments. They range from data acquisition and processing to modeling of dynamical systems and implementing a variety of controllers to control systems, such as DC motors and the inverted pendulum. Active research is being conducted on control reconfiguration in the event of actuator failures in aircrafts.

Multiscale Thermofluidics Laboratory
Develops novel scalable nanomanufacturing techniques using biological templates to manipulate micro- and nano- scale thermal and fluidic phenomena. Current work includes enhancing phase-change heat transfer with super-wetting nanostructured coatings and transport and separation through nanoporous membranes.

Nyheim Plasma Institute
The Nyheim Plasma Institute (NPI) was formed in 2002 (originally the A.J. Drexel Plasma Institute) to stimulate and coordinate research projects related to plasma and other modern high-energy engineering techniques. Today the NPI is an active multidisciplinary organization involving 23 faculty members from 6 engineering departments working in close collaboration with the School of Biomedical Engineering, College of Arts and Sciences, and the College of Nursing and Health Professions.

Precision Instrumentation and Metrology Laboratory
This laboratory is focused on activities related to precision measurement, computer-aided inspection, and precision instrument design. Facilities include 3D Coordinate Measuring Machine (Brown & Sharpe) with Micro Measurement and Reverse engineering software, Surface Profilometer, and Laser Displacement Measuring System.

Space Systems Laboratory
The objective of the Space Systems Laboratory (SSL) is to inspire future generations to advance aerospace engineering. It provides research opportunities in orbital mechanics, rendezvous and docking maneuvers, mission planning, and space environment. The lab provides facilities for activities in High Altitude Balloons, construction of air-vehicles and nano-satellites, 0-g flights, and STK simulation package for satellite flights and trajectories.

Theoretical and Applied Mechanics Group
Research in the Theoretical and Applied Mechanics Group (TAMG) focuses on using experimental, analytical and computational tools to understand deformation and failure of materials, components and structures in a broad range of time and length scales. To accomplish this goal, TAMG develops procedures that include mechanical behavior characterization coupled with non-destructive testing and modern computational tools. This information is used both for understanding the role of important material scales in the observed bulk behavior and for the formulation of constitutive laws that can model the response including damage initiation and progression according to prescribed loading conditions. Equipment and facilities used by TAMG include a range of mechanical testing equipment for testing in tension, compression, fatigue and fracture.

Vascular Kinetics Laboratory
The Vascular Kinetics Laboratory (VKL) uses engineering methods to understand how biomechanics and biochemistry interact in cardiovascular disease.  In particular, we study fluid flow and blood vessel stiffness impact cellular response to glucose, growth factors, and inflammation to lead to atherosclerosis and metabolic syndrome. We then apply these discoveries to novel biomaterials and therapies, with a particular focus on treating cardiovascular disease in under-served populations. This research is at the interface of engineering and medicine, with close collaborations with biologists and physicians and a strong emphasis on clinical applications.

Mechanical Engineering Faculty

Jennifer Atchison, PhD (Drexel University). Assistant Teaching Professor. Engineering Education, Functional Fabrics, and Nanofibers
Jonathan Awerbuch, DSc (Technion, Israel Institute of Technology). Professor. Mechanics of composites; fracture and fatigue; impact and wave propagation; structural dynamics.
Nicholas P. Cernansky, PhD (University of California-Berkeley) Hess Chair Professor of Combustion. Professor. Combustion chemistry and kinetics; combustion generated pollution; utilization of alternative and synthetic fuels.
Bor-Chin Chang, PhD (Rice University). Professor. Computer-aided design of multivariable control systems; robust and optimal control systems.
Richard Chiou, PhD (Georgia Institute of Technology). Associate Professor. Green manufacturing, mechatronics, Internet-based robotics and automation, and remote sensors and monitoring.
Young I. Cho, PhD (University of Illinois-Chicago). Professor. Heat transfer; fluid mechanics; non-Newtonian flows; biofluid mechanics; rheology.
Bakhtier Farouk, PhD (University of Delaware) Billings Professor of Mechanical Engineering. Professor. Heat transfer; combustion; numerical methods; turbulence modeling; materials processing.
Alexander Fridman, DSc, PhD (Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology) Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics, John A. Nyheim Endowed University Chair Professor, Director of the Drexel Plasma Institute. Professor. Plasma science and technology; pollutant mitigation; super-adiabatic combustion; nanotechnology and manufacturing.
Li-Hsin Han, PhD (University of Texas at Austin). Assistant Professor. Polymeric, micro/nano-fabrication, biomaterial design, tissue engineering, rapid prototyping, free-form fabrication, polymer micro actuators, photonics
Y. Grace Hsuan, PhD (Imperial College). Professor. Durability of polymeric construction materials; advanced construction materials; and performance of geosynthetics.
Andrei Jablokow, PhD (University of Wisconsin, Madison) Associate Department Head for Undergraduate Affairs, Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics. Associate Teaching Professor. Engineering education; kinematics; geometric modeling.
Antonios Kontsos, PhD (Rice University). Associate Professor. Applied mechanics; probabilistic engineering mechanics; modeling of smart multifunctional materials.
E. Caglan Kumbur, PhD (Pennsylvania State University). Associate Professor. Next generation energy technologies; fuel cell design and development.
Harry G. Kwatny, PhD (University of Pennsylvania) S. Herbert Raynes Professor of Mechanical Engineering. Professor. Dynamic systems analysis; stochastic optimal control; control of electric power plants and systems.
Alan Lau, PhD (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Professor. Deformation and fracture of nano-devices and macroscopic structures; damage-tolerant structures and microstructures.
Michele Marcolongo, PhD, PE (University of Pennsylvania). Professor Emerita. Orthopedic biomaterials; acellular regenerative medicine, biomimetic proteoglycans; hydrogels.
Roger Marino, PhD (Drexel University). Associate Teaching Professor. Engineering education; land development; product Development
Matthew McCarthy, PhD (Columbia University) Associate Department Head for Graduate Affairs, Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics. Associate Professor. Micro- and nanoscale thermofluidic systems, bio-inspired cooling, smart materials and structures for self-regulated two-phase cooling, novel architectures for integrated energy conversion and storage.
David L. Miller, PhD (Louisiana State University). Professor. Gas-phase reaction kinetics; thermodynamics; biofuels.
Moses Noh, PhD (Georgia Institute of Technology). Associate Professor. MEMS; BioMEMS; lab-on-a-chip; microfabrication; microfluidics.
Mira S. Olson, PhD (University of Virginia). Associate Professor. Peace engineering; source water quality protection and management; contaminant and bacterial fate and transport; community engagement.
Sorin Siegler, PhD (Drexel University). Professor. Orthopedic biomechanics; robotics; dynamics and control of human motion; applied mechanics.
Jonathan E. Spanier, PhD (Columbia University) Department Head, Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics. Professor. Light-matter interactions in electronic materials, including ferroelectric semiconductors, complex oxide thin film science; laser spectroscopy, including Raman scattering.
Wei Sun, PhD (Drexel University) Albert Soffa Chair Professor of Mechanical Engineering. Professor. Computer-aided tissue engineering; solid freeform fabrication; CAD/CAM; design and modeling of nanodevices.
Ying Sun, PhD (University of Iowa). Associate Professor. Transport processes in multi-component systems with fluid flow; heat and mass transfer; phase change; pattern formation.
Tein-Min Tan, PhD (Purdue University). Associate Professor. Mechanics of composites; computational mechanics and finite-elements methods; structural dynamics.
James Tangorra, PhD (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Department Head, Engineering Technology. Associate Professor. Analysis of human and (other) animal physiological systems; head-neck dynamics and control; balance, vision, and the vestibular system; animal swimming and flight; robotics; system identification; bio-inspired design.
Ajmal Yousuff, PhD (Purdue University). Associate Professor. Optimal control; flexible structures; model and control simplifications.
Jack G. Zhou, PhD (New Jersey Institute of Technology). Professor. CAD/CAM; computer integrated manufacturing systems; rapid prototyping; system dynamics and automatic control.

Emeritus Faculty

Leon Y. Bahar, PhD (Lehigh University). Professor Emeritus. Analytical methods in engineering, coupled thermoelasticity, interaction between analytical dynamics and control systems.
Gordon D. Moskowitz, PhD (Princeton University). Professor Emeritus. Biomechanics, dynamics, design, applied mathematics.
Donald H. Thomas, PhD (Case Institute of Technology). Professor Emeritus. Biocontrol theory, biomechanics, fluidics and fluid control, vehicle dynamics, engineering design.
Albert S. Wang, PhD (University of Delaware). Professor Emeritus. Treatment of damage evolution processes in multi-phased high-temperature materials, including ceramics and ceramic-matrix composites.
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