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Top 10 Universities for Mechanical Engineering

By Laura Bridgestock

Updated March 4, 2021 Updated March 4, 2021

**To see the latest version of this article, based on the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2016, click here.

Here’s a closer look at the top 10 universities for mechanical engineering, according to the 2013 QS World University Rankings by Subject. These world-leading universities (six in the US, two in the UK, one in Japan and one in Singapore) all have very strong reputations in the field. But which would best match your own interests, and what mechanical engineering research is each currently focusing on?

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering has identified seven “thrust” areas of mechanical engineering research. These come under the headings: Mechanics: Modeling, Experimentation & Computation; Design, Manufacturing & Product Development; Controls, Instrumentation & Robotics; Energy Science & Engineering; Ocean Science & Engineering; Bioengineering; and Micro & Nano Engineering. (Anything they haven’t got covered?)

2. Stanford University

At Stanford, the mechanical engineering school identifies five key research “themes”: biomedicine, computational engineering, design, energy and multi-scale engineering. These intersect with five major research groups, known as the Biomechanical Engineering Program, Design Group, Flow Physics & Computational Engineering Group, Mechanics & Computation Group, and Thermosciences Group.

3. University of Cambridge

The University of Cambridge’s school of Mechanical Engineering, Materials and Design has a strong focus on research connected to vehicles and transportation – with two of its major research initiatives being the Transport Research Group and the Cambridge Vehicle Dynamics Consortium. There’s also an Applied Mechanics group focusing on dynamics and vibration problems in transport design, an interdisciplinary Materials Engineering team, and a Tribology program focusing on issues such as the mechanics of surface distress.

4. Imperial College London

At Imperial College London, mechanical engineering research is organized into three broad categories: Applied Mechanics, Mechanics of Materials and Thermofluids. Within these three strands, Imperial researchers are engaged in exploring the applications of mechanical engineering within diverse industries including healthcare, transport, energy and defence.

5. University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley)

With a similarly broad focus, UC Berkeley’s mechanical engineering school identifies five main areas for its research: Biomechanical Engineering & Health; Controls & Dynamics of Complex Systems; Energy Science & Technology; Green & Sustainable Technologies; and Micro and Nano Engineering. For those interested in the role of mechanical engineering in sustainable development, the Berkeley Energy & Sustainable Technologies (BEST) Lab has research projects focusing on sustainable product design, alternative energy sources, sustainable technologies and sustainable communities.

6. Harvard University

Harvard’s Materials Science and Mechanical Engineering department – and indeed its entire School of Engineering and Applied Sciences – emphasizes the interdisciplinary nature of its research. Key fields include the mechanics of material structures, biomedical instrumentation, teleoperated robots, elasticity, plasticity, buckling, fracture and wave motion, and exploring ways in which understanding biological systems such as the brain could provide inspiration for mechanical design.

7. National University of Singapore (NUS)

At the National University of Singapore, the country’s highest ranked university, major mechanical engineering research themes include: manufacturing; materials; energy & thermal systems; fluid mechanics & aerodynamics; control, robotics & mechatronics; applied mechanics; and applied bio-mechanics. The university has also identified some key growth areas for its mechanical engineering research, which include defence technology, energy systems, off-shore engineering, green technology, innovative materials and micro- and nano-systems.

8. University of Tokyo

Meanwhile Japan’s highest ranking university, the University of Tokyo, categorizes its mechanical engineering research into five groups: Solid State and Materials Engineering; Fluid and Thermal Engineering; Mechanical Dynamics and Control Engineering; Design and Production Engineering; and Bioengineering. More specific focus areas include micro- and nano-scale strength/friction test methods, strategies for improving energy conversion efficiencies, micro- and nano-sized medical devices, diagnostic technologies and regenerative medicine.

9. Georgia Institute of Technology
(Georgia Tech)

At Georgia Tech’s George W. Woodruff  School of Mechanical Engineering, research covers: Acoustics and Dynamics; Automation and Mechatronics; Bioengineering; CAE and Design; Fluid Mechanics; Heat Transfer, Combustion and Energy systems; Manufacturing; Mechanics of Materials; Medical Physics; Micro- and Nano-Engineering; Nuclear and Radiological Engineering; and Tribology.

10. University of Michigan

Finally, the University of Michigan’s Department of Mechanical Engineering offers research opportunities in the following fields: Automotive & Transportation; Biomechanics & Biosystems Engineering; Controls; Design; Dynamics & Vibrations; Energy; Fluids; Manufacturing; Mechanics & Materials; Mechatronics & Robotics; Micro/Nano Engineering; Multi-scale Computation and Computational Mechanics; and Thermal Sciences.

About the QS World University Rankings by Subject

Published annually since 2011, the QS World University Rankings by Subject highlights the world’s top 200 universities across 30 different subjects. The ranking is compiled based on QS’s global surveys of academics and graduate employers, combined with data about research citations per faculty member.

This article was originally published in July 2013 . It was last updated in March 2021

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Written by

The former editor of, Laura oversaw the site's editorial content and student forums. She also edited the QS Top Grad School Guide and contributed to market research reports, including 'How Do Students Use Rankings?'

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