Undergraduate FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions & Answers

Mechanical Engineering Academic Advising

Q: The course I need to take is full. What do I do?

A: There area number of things you can try. First, register for the more impacted courses during your first pass time if you can.  Also, contact the Undergrad Advisor and/or instructor directly to see if there is a waitlist for any ME course. If it is a non-ME course, you should add yourself to an open waitlist or contact the home department. Continue to check GOLD and plan to show up to class the first week to see if spaces open up during the Add/Drop period. Most importantly, be flexible. There is usually more room in early morning, late afternoon sections and in summer.  Here are some other helpful hints from Former Dean of Undergraduate Education, Mary Nisbet. Her comments were specifically directed to a previous class, but these are good suggestions for any quarter. Finding Space in Classes.

Q: What kind of computer should I get?

A: Each year the department looks at the recommendations for what kind of computer to tell freshman to buy. The best advice is to go with Solidworks's system requirements, as it is the most resource intensive program used by students. We suggest a minimum of 8GB+ of memory and 256GB+ hard drive. We recommend the new i series processors from Intel, i5 and i7. Most students do not run much engineering software on their laptops. Full versions of all the engineering software you need are available on the computers in the ECI labs. A solid state drive (SSD), more ram than the minimum, and a dedicated Nvidia (or AMD) card can help your computer run more smoothly.


A: Instructional Labs

Q: What is an Upper Division Elective form?

A: Approval of the student's electives must be obtained from the student's advisor. The Upper Division Elective Form MUST be filled out during the senior year. Each student is required to take 9 units of upper division Department Electives. Each student needs to choose 9 units of elective courses and they will be approved by the department during a mandatory senior elective check-in. Hard copies of the forms can be obtained from the Student Affairs Team (meugrad@engineering.ucsb.edu) in the Mechanical Engineering administrative office, ENGR II 2355.

Q: I took an upper division ME course which was different from those on my filed elective sheet. What do I do?

A: You MUST update your elective sheet. You can do this by going to the ME office and speaking with or emailing the Student Affairs Team (meugrad@engineering.ucsb.edu)

Q: I am a new ME student and I don’t know what courses to take. What do I do?

A: You should, as closely as possible, follow the GRID of courses as published in the GEAR handbook. If you are ahead in math or physics courses, and have some openings in your schedule, please consult the Student Affairs Team (meugrad@engineering.ucsb.edu) or Faculty Undergraduate Advisor Dr. Tyler Susko for more personalized information. It is important not to get behind on the GRID, because most of the ME courses are only offered once a year and have prerequisite science and math courses which are very important.

Q: I am not an ME major, but want to change major into me. How do I get into the ME courses?

A: For those interested, you are REQUIRED to meet with a member of the ME Student Affairs team in fall quarter of your first year. The Mechanical Engineering major is very competitive and space is limited, there are no guarantees of acceptance in this process. Before petitioning for a change of major to mechanical engineering, eight (8) of the following core courses or their UC equivalents must be completed: Chem 1A-1B; Engr 3, Math 3A-B; Math 4A-B; Math 6A-B; Physics 1-2 (or 7A-B); ME 10,14, 15, 17 (at least 3 of the 8 courses must include Engr 3, ME 14, & ME 17). Acceptance into the major will be based on a core grade point average, applicable courses completed and available space. Read more about changing your major to Mechanical Engineering and please see one of the staff Student Affairs team members (meugrad@engineering.ucsb.edu) for more information.

Q: I am interested in undergraduate research. How do I find a position?

A. Upper-division undergraduates have opportunities to work in a research environment with faculty members who are conducting current research in the various fields of mechanical engineering:
Computational Science and Engineering
Dynamic Systems, Control, and Robotics
Fluid Mechanics and Thermal Sciences
Micro/Nano Technology
Solid Mechanics, Materials, and Structures

Students interested in pursuing undergraduate research projects should contact individual faculty members during office hours or by appointment. For more information about how to gain research experience as an undergraduate, visit the UCSB Undergraduate Research Office website.

Q: How do I find a summer job?

A: Take advantage of the services provided by UCSB Career Services. They will be happy to talk to you about options. In addition, there are workshops on resume writing, job hunting, and career fairs to help you as well.

Q: I am doing badly in my courses and the drop deadline is nearing. I feel like in order to succeed in some of them, I should drop one. Which one should I drop?

A: In this case, it is ESSENTIAL that you speak with your major advisor. To contact the staff Student Affairs team members email meugrad@engineering.ucsb.edu or Faculty Undergraduate Advisor Professor Susko. Additionally you should consider meeting with a College advisor to help with any petitions or university protocols. Dropping courses which are prerequisites to other courses may set you back an entire year. A discussion with the Undergraduate Advisor before any schedule changes are made is critical. 

Q: I don’t have the prerequisites for a course, and if I don’t take it, it will add a year to my graduation. How can I get in the course?

A: These requests are not taken lightly. You can contact the instructor to see if s/he feels you have the necessary background to proceed without a prerequisite. However, these requests are only granted under extreme circumstances (and adding a year to graduation, especially if your GPA is low or borderline probation level is NOT considered an extreme circumstance). Prerequisites are in place for a reason, and allowing you to take courses for which you don’t have prerequisites is not in your best interest.

We are here to help you succeed.

Lastly, the ME department wishes to provide you with every opportunity to succeed. If you have questions, please direct them to one of the staff Student Affairs team members (meugrad@engineering.ucsb.edu) or your faculty advisor. In addition, we also welcome your comments/feedback! Feedback can be directed to the same individuals.