The Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science (MEMS) offers graduate degree programs that emphasize applied as well as fundamental aspects of mechanical engineering and materials science. The graduate training and research programs are supported by modern computational and experimental emphasis and a strong tradition of applied sciences and mathematics. The graduate programs lead to degrees of Master of Science (M.S.), Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Master of Mechanical Engineering (M.M.E.), and Master of Materials Science (M.M.S.). The degrees of M.S. and Ph.D. require research and theses, while the M.M.E. and M.M.S. are nonresearch degrees.
Graduate students in mechanical engineering receive training and conduct research in the traditional mechanical engineering areas as well as the specialized interests of its outstanding faculty, which include mechanics, computational mechanics, stochastic mechanics, fluid dynamics, heat transfer, dynamics and control, robotics, biomedical systems, and aerospace sciences.
The graduate program in materials science and engineering is an interdisciplinary program with a core activity in advanced materials research and special research opportunites in nanotechnology, metals physics, statistical mechanics, metallic solid thermodynamics, materials chemistry, aspects of composites, coatings and thin films, and interface science. Materials science has several faculty with joint appointments in other science and engineering areas, assuring a diverse program in a broad materials science field.
The MEMS graduate program also partners with other departments in its educational and research activities. Collaboration with the Department of Computational and Applied Mathematics involves computational methods and optimization. Work on expert systems and robotics is done in cooperation with the Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science. Computer graphics research involves the cooperation of the Department of Computer Science and the School of Architecture. The campuswide Rice Quantum Institute is also active in the research of electronic materials and other aspects of materials science. Finally, biomechanics and biomaterials research involve several institutions in the Texas Medical Center. These collaborations reflect the comprehensive scope of the research activities that make graduate study in MEMS an enjoyable challenge.
Graduate education and research are supported by state-of-the-art equipment within the department's main building, including a UNIX-based departmental computational and graphics facility with a network of Sun and SGI workstations and servers. The powerful engineering OWLNET system of Sun workstations and personal computers are also available to all MEMS students.
Recently, the MEMS department acquired a 41-node PC cluster, with each node having dual 1.7 GHz Pentium IV processors and 2 GB of memory. This system is serving as a major parallel computing resource for large-scale simulation and modeling research. The MEMS department also contains the computational facilities of the Team for Advanced Flow Simulation and Modeling. These facilities include a number of advanced PCs and visualization systems.
The MEMS department also houses the Advanced Thermal Processing Lab, the Bio-medical System and Instrumentation Lab, the Dynamic Systems Vibrations and Control Lab, the Flow Physics and Simulation Lab, and the Robotics Lab. The building also includes a network of materials labs with two new electron microscopes, X-ray diffractometers, electron beam characterization systems, thin film equipment, and advanced mechanical testing equipment to support research and education in materials science.