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.