A Message from the School Chair
Welcome to the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech!
I am excited, humbled, and honored to serve as the Eugene C. Gwaltney School Chair as of January 1, 2022.
With almost 3,000 students, more than 100 professors, and 70 staff members we’re a big and diverse school, and that gives us the chance to do a lot of interesting things inside and outside of the classroom. Our students get their hands dirty from day one in labs and makerspaces, and quickly learn that the key to graduation is collaboration, whether that’s in our ME 2110 Creative Decisions and Design class or in informal study groups.
The depth and breadth of our mechanical engineering and nuclear and radiological engineering programs have led to national rankings that place us in elite company. Our mechanical engineering undergraduate program is second in the 2022 U.S. News & World Report rankings while we rank fifth in graduate mechanical engineering programs and sixth in nuclear engineering. We award close to 900 degrees per year, with a third of those coming at the graduate level.
The Woodruff School strongly believes in encouraging experiential learning activities in all of our programs. We offer an integrated set of lecture, design, and laboratory courses that help to push and prepare our students to address demanding engineering challenges. More than half of our students participate in a study abroad program at the undergraduate level through our Georgia Tech Lorraine campus in Metz, France and other locations around the world. We’ve invested in a world class, student-run makerspace to allow students the freedom to prototype and explore ideas that they develop in class or on their own time for fun. This makerspace, known as the Flowers Invention Studio, provides a variety of resources open to all students and includes 3D printers, water jets, laser cutters, woodworking tools, and an electronics bench. Our students are also very active with Georgia Tech’s seven student competition teams which include Solar Jackets, GT Off-Road, and RoboJackets. Students with an entrepreneurial spirit have outlets as well, and are encouraged to enter their inventions in the Inventure Prize or participate in CREATE-X, a Georgia Tech initiative to instill entrepreneurial confidence in students and empower them to launch successful startups.
At the graduate level, we perform research in Mechanics, Robotics and Automation, Thermal Sciences, Energy Systems, Bioengineering, Fluid Mechanics, Nuclear and Medical Physics, Acoustics, Tribology, Design, Manufacturing, and Machine Learning. We currently exceed $40M in new research awards annually which provides for a rich set of research opportunities in world class facilities at Georgia Tech. We have invested in major facilities updates in recent years including the Advanced Manufacturing Pilot Facility and an expansion for our Robotics and Automation research group. The Woodruff School plays a strong role in several Interdisciplinary Research Institutes on campus including the Institute for Bioscience and Bioengineering, Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology, Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute, and the Strategic Energy Institute. We also have strategic partnerships with several DOE National Laboratories that also give our graduate students unique opportunities for research.
The Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering is an inclusive, innovative, and thriving educational and research environment that is making significant contributions to society by producing engineers and technology that will change the world. We invite you to explore our website and we look forward to the opportunity to interact with you in the near future.
Eugene C. Gwaltney, Jr. School Chair and Professor
The first degree offered at the Georgia School of Technology, as the Institute was then called, was the Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. Today, the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering offers three bachelor of science degrees, six master of science degrees, and two doctor of philosophy degrees.
A Brief History of Georgia Tech and the Woodruff School
A school of technology was established in Atlanta in 1885. In October 1888 the Georgia School of Technology opened its doors and admitted its first engineering class: 129 mechanical engineering students enrolled in Tech's first degree program. As part of their education these early students worked at trades such as forging, woodworking, machining, and mechanical drawing. The products of these shop exercises were then sold to the public to produce income for the School.
The first Head (starting in 1888) and Professor of Mechanical Engineering was John Saylor Coon, a graduate of Cornell University and a charter member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He held this position for 35 years until his retirement in 1923.
Over the years, the mechanical engineering program expanded and changed. By 1896, the contract system of shops had been abandoned. Free from the need to render a profit on instructional time, Dr. Coon implemented an educational format which, while it retained elements of hands-on shop training, placed more stress on the emerging tenets of quantification and analysis. Dr. Coon revised the curriculum, describing a mechanical engineering program that emphasized design, mathematics, and problem solving. Prominent here was a senior thesis, which was an experimental laboratory project emphasizing design and testing. The experimental project requirement survives today as the capstone experimental engineering course.
The notion that an engineer was a technical master first and a businessman second permeated the curriculum of Georgia Tech at the turn of the century. Mechanical engineering students conducted efficiency tests for businesses in Atlanta and experiments using campus facilities. Practical projects at local businesses became a significant part of the educational process at Georgia Tech, especially after the Cooperative Program officially began in 1912. This continues to be the largest optional program of its kind in the country. About forty percent of all mechanical engineering undergraduate students at Georgia Tech are involved in the program. In addition, there is a Graduate Co-op Program, an International Co-op Program, an Undergraduate Professional Internship Program, and a number of study-abroad programs for students to gain international experience.
Tech graduated its first two students, with bachelor's degrees in mechanical engineering, in 1890. The first MSME was authorized in 1922, and a doctoral program was added in 1946. The first MS degrees were awarded in 1925, and the first Ph.D.'s were granted in 1950. Georgia Tech was renamed the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1948. Women were admitted in 1952, and the campus was voluntarily integrated in 1962. In 1949, the Department of Mechanical Engineering officially became the School of Mechanical Engineering with its own director and administrative staff. In 1985 the School was named for its benefactor, distinguished Atlanta business and civic leader, the late George W. Woodruff (class of 1917).
In 2000, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers recognized the Woodruff School as a Mechanical Engineering Heritage Site. Of the 225 landmarks, sites, and collections, we are the only educational institution with this honor, which was granted for the impact that mechanical engineering education at Georgia Tech had on the South and the nation.
Graduates from Georgia Tech have always had a hand in helping build industry in the South. This is as true today as it was when Georgia Tech was opened in 1888 and began to educate engineers and revitalize the economy of the South, devastated after the Civil War. Today's rigorous engineering curriculum allows our students to continue to have a lasting impact on the global society.
We have over 100 full-time, tenure-track faculty (all with Ph.D.'s), including 36 adjunct appointments from other schools on campus. There are also 57 research faculty and 8 academic professionals to support research and teaching.
- 30 senior faculty members hold endowed chairs, fellowships or distinguished professorships.
- 35 faculty members have received prestigious Faculty Early Career Awards.
- 6 National Academy of Engineering (NAE) members including emeritus and adjunct appointments.
The faculty in mechanical engineering is divided into 13 self-selected research areas: Acoustics and Dynamics; Artificial Intelligence and Informatics for Mechanical Engineering; Automation and Mechatronics; Bioengineering; Computer-Aided Engineering and Design; Fluid Mechanics; Heat Transfer, Combustion, and Energy Systems; Manufacturing; Mechanics of Materials; Medical Physics; Micro & Nano Engineering; Nuclear and Radiological Engineering; and Tribology.
- The faculty and students are supported by 72 professional staff members, including people who specialize in advising, communications, computing, electronics, finance, and machine shop.
- The School participates in a robust number of Georgia Tech co-op student opportunities that assist in supporting internal and external programs.
From the summer 2019 to spring 2020, 898 degrees were awarded by the Woodruff School:
- 591 bachelor's degrees
- 245 master's degrees
- 62 Ph.D.'s
In fall 2020, the enrollment in the Woodruff School included 1,803 undergraduate students and 856 graduate students; of those 602 are women and 417 international students.
Woodruff School students participate in a rewarding, hands-on experience and belong to a number of highly successful groups that compete at the regional and national level:
- GT Motorsports
- GT Off-Road
- HyTech Racing
- Solar Jackets
- Wreck Racing
Professional organizations with student chapters include:
- American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM)
- American Nuclear Society (ANS)
- Acoustical Society of America (ASA)
- American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
- American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
- Health Physics Society
- Pi Tau Sigma (Nu Chapter)
- Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE)
- Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME)
There are organizations especially for graduate students. The Mechanical Engineering Graduate Student Association (MEGA) fosters identity and pride in mechanical engineering through service and social activities. And the Woodruff School Graduate Women (WSGW) serves the academic, social, and career needs of female graduate students.
- More than a dozen Woodruff School Ph.D. alumni who are faculty members at other universities have won prestigious Faculty Early Career Awards.
- Approximately 20% of our graduating seniors go directly to graduate or professional school.
- Approximately 20% of our graduating Ph.D. students pursue academic careers with many others pursuing careers at national laboratories.
J. Erskine Love Jr. Manufacturing Building
- 153,664 sq. ft
- Opened in 2000
- Building is shared with Materials Science and Engineering
- Underwater acoustics tank, wind tunnel, and MEMS clean room are special facilities
- Acoustics, Fluid Mechanics, Heat Transfer, and MEMS are the research groups in this building
Parker H. Petit Biotechnology Building
- Opened in 1999
- Bioengineering research group is located here
Fuller E. Callaway, Jr. Manufacturing Research Center
- 118,380 sq. ft.
- Opened in 1991
- Manufacturing, CAE/Design, and Automation/ Mechatronics faculty research groups are housed here
Manufacturing Related Disciplines Complex
- 121,976 sq. ft.
- Opened in 1995
- Building is shared with Materials Science and Engineering
- Undergraduate laboratories and Wepfer Design Commons are among the special facilities
- Tribology and Mechanics of Materials are research groups in this building
IPST Centennial Engineering Building
- Opened in 1997
- Faculty members in Paper Science and Engineering
Boggs Building (Nuclear and Radiological Engineering and Medical Physics)
- 41,432 sq. ft.
- Opened in 1963
- NREMP faculty offices, administration and research groups in: fission, fusion, and medical physics
Student Competition Center
- Moved to new location in 2011
- Houses various student competition groups, including GT Motorsports, GT Off-Road (the SAE-baja team), RoboJackets, Solar Jackets and Wreck Racing