Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering

Doctoral Engineering Program

The Ph.D. program is designed to provide students with research-level expertise in a focus area within mechanical engineering and breadth of knowledge in areas related to the focus area. In addition to taking a set of courses in a chosen area of interest, a key aspect of the doctoral degree is the student’s research dissertation. The doctoral dissertation is expected to be a significant original contribution on research on a chosen subject, which usually leads to one or more archival publications. Each doctoral student is supervised by a primary research advisor and an advisory committee. Successful doctoral students develop the aptitude and confidence for generating new knowledge and practices in academic, industrial, and governmental environments.

Doctoral students are expected to have one or more research publications at the time of the dissertation.

Students have the flexibility of selecting their own courses with the approval of the graduate advisor. The faculty contact assigned at the time of admission serves as the advisor for the first two semesters or until a permanent advisor is formally selected by the student at the time the Plan of study is submitted.

Research within the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Science is focused in six primary areas – manufacturing and metrology, computational mechanics and materials, motorsports engineering, bioengineering, thermal fluids science, and dynamics and controls. Within these areas, students pursue a variety of research topics that address design, manufacturing, metrology, thermal sciences and fluid mechanics, solid mechanics, biomedical engineering, materials engineering and science, and mechanical control and instrumentation. Students are encouraged to consider the variety of research and their interests as they progress in their degree program, choose an advisor, and develop their program of study. Lists of faculty, active research areas, and courses typically offered within each area are available by following the corresponding links.

Active research projects include orthopedic biomechanics, cryopreservation and anhydrous cell preservation, biocompatibility of new materials, tissue engineering, cryosurgery and microfluidic chips.

Computational Mechanics and Materials
Active research projects include finite element modeling, multi-scale modeling, large-scale parallel simulations, nanomaterials synthesis and characterization, mechanical testing of nanostructures and ultrafine grain nanocrystalline materials.

Manufacturing and Metrology
Active research areas include additive and substractive manufacturing, machining dynamics, dimensional metrology, machine tool metrology, ultra-precision machining, optics manufacturing and metrology and precision machine and instrument design.

Motorsports Engineering
Active research areas include vehicle dynamics and stability control, racecar modeling/simulation, driver modeling/simulation, aerodynamics, experimental and computational fluid mechanics, crash modeling/simulation, tire mechanics, automotive instrumentation, engines and propulsion.

Thermal Sciences and Fluid Mechanics
Active research areas include computational fluid dynamics (CFD), including both large-scale computing and turbulence modeling, experimental fluids, bioheat transfer and biopreservation, race car aerodynamics, bio-fluid dynamics, combustion, stochastic flow and thermal processes, applied math and modeling and heat transfer.

Dynamics and Controls
Active research areas include system dynamics, control systems, machining dynamics and flight dynamics.

If a specific focus area is not desired, it is expected that each student would select the majority of their courses from the focus area that they are interested in. Students are advised to discuss with their advisor about course selections to maximize the benefits from the program.

International students must register for 9 credits in each semester until their credit requirements are over, to maintain full-time student status.

Dr. Terry Xu, Associate Chair for Graduate Programs (

PhD student Jorian Khan in the Center for Precision Metrology

Jorian Khan
Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering

“I was looking for Mechanical Engineering Ph.D. programs with emphasis on metrology. UNC Charlotte is the place to study metrology in the U.S. In reality, I committed to UNC Charlotte after meeting with the faculty and other students. The students and faculty have been wonderfully welcoming and extremely generous sharing their knowledge. I came for the metrology but I stayed because of the welcoming environment and the wonderful people.”