ME Focus Areas (FA)

The Focus Area (FA) is a set of 21 semester hours of elective courses taken during the sophomore to senior years that provide mechanical engineering undergraduate students with a unique opportunity to acquire advanced education in an area of their choice. FAs are not only intended to spark the interest of students in a specialty, but they can also make a student more attractive to future employers. Students are urged to read the complete FA Policy and Guidelines of the department. Students have the choice of selecting one of the program-standard focus areas or of developing their own tailored focus area suited to their career aspirations. All FAs must include an approved math/science elective.

Standard FA

The Mechanical Engineering Department now offers four undergraduate focus areas:

  • Design
  • Energy & Environment
  • Manufacturing
  • Robotics and Autonomous Systems

All existing FAs have been updated, as of the Spring 2019 semester, to incorporate new courses, where appropriate.  The Manufacturing FA has undergone major revision, and the Robotics and Autonomous Systems FA is brand new.

Note: For Fall 2021 ME:4145 Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) has been added to FAs. For fall 2020 it was offered with temporary course "ME:5195 Contemporary Topics in Mechanical Engineering -- Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT)".  It is eligible for FA credit.  Rules for FA credit eligibility.

OLD FAs - Prior to Spring 2019 **NEW FAs** - Effective Spring 2019
Design Design 
Energy and Environment Energy & Environment
Manufacturing and Materials Processing Manufacturing
  Robotics and Autonomous Systems
Online FA form - OLD Curriculum Online FA form - NEW Curriculum

New FAs Summary Flyer

Students select a standard FA by completing the online FA plan of study form.

Please note that with appropriate course selection, students can concurrently earn the Design FA and the Naval Hydrodynamics Certificate.


Tailored FA

Students may also design an FA based on individual interests. All tailored FAs must consist of at least 21 semester hours of courses and satisfy the ME FA Policy and Guidelines. A tailored FA must be rigorous, well-focused, in-depth, and consistent with a student's career plan. A collection of lower level courses in a number of disparate areas will not satisfy this FA requirement. Students must consult with their advisor prior to choosing a tailored FA and fill out a online FA plan of study form.

All tailored FAs require approval by the ME Department Chair.

There are two different types of tailored FAs:

1. An official UI Minor or Certificate program is completed. A common minor for ME students is the Business Minor.  The ME Department is the administrative home for the Naval Hydrodynamics Certificate.  Another common certificate is the Technological Entrepreneurship Certificate, but any official UI Minor or Certificate is possible. Note that it may be possible to take some of the courses that are required for a Minor or Certificate as part of the General Education Component (GEC) requirement. If an official UI minor or certificate program requires less than 21 semester hours and does not require at least 9 semester hours of upper-level College of Engineering courses, then the remaining FA courses must be upper-level College of Engineering courses*. 

2. The tailored FA consists of a well-focused set of courses from the College of Engineering and/or other UI colleges. In order to maintain some technical rigor and depth, such FAs must contain at least 9 s.h. of upper level* College of Engineering courses. However, this requirement may be waived if the FA consists of an in-depth program in mathematics, computer science, the physical sciences, or the natural/health sciences, with an equivalent component of upper level* courses.

*Upper-level Mechanical Engineering courses are defined as ME courses numbered 4100 or above.  However, upper level courses in other College of Engineering departments may also have 3000 numbers in some cases.  Students should consult their advisors for clarification on whether or not a non-ME course is classified as upper-level.  See the Policy for Numbering of ME Courses for more information on ME course numbering.

Changes to FA Course Selections

Any changes to FA course selections will require that a new updated FA plan of study form be completed.

Approved Flexible Electives

Each of the standard FAs allows for the completion of one “flexible elective” course that is not included in the list of qualifying electives given in the standard FA documents.  In addition to classes that fall into categories (i) through (iv), as described in the FA documents, students are permitted to select the flexible elective from the following list of approved courses (category v).  Contact the Undergraduate Committee chair to request consideration of courses to be added to this list.

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences:

TDSN:4250 Hand-Built Bicycle

MTLS:4960 Hand-Built Bicycle II

OSTC:3750 Fundamentals of Micro and Nano-Fabrication