Major-Approved Electives

Upperclass Major-Approved Electives in Mechanical Engineering

Major-Approved Electives l, II, and III.

These courses listed below build upon one or more of the required mechanical engineering core courses. M.E. students must complete any three upper-level Major-Approved Electives totaling at least 9 credits. These courses should be chosen from any of the seven areas listed below. Students may choose to focus on one topic, however, it is not necessary to select both courses from one topic. 

MAE 4610, MAE 4900 (independent research), MAE 4980, or MAE 4XX1 (supervised senior design experience) may not be used to satisfy a Major-Approved Elective. MAE 4900 may be used to fulfill the technical or advisor-approved elective requirements.

Some courses below are offered both Major-Approved Electives (MAE 4xx0) and Senior Design (MAE 4xx1).

In those courses, M.E. Majors may use only one version of the same course to fulfill either a Major-Approved Elective requirement OR the Senior Design requirement.

Students may not double-count the same course to satisfy both the Major-Approved and the Senior Design electives.

Consult the Courses of Study and the online course roster for availability of courses. 

Aerospace Engineering 

Aerospace Engineering deals with a large variety of engineering problems associated with the flight of aircraft and space vehicles. A student interested in this major should obtain a solid background in basic engineering fundamentals and mathematics. There is no undergraduate degree program in aerospace engineering, but students interested in the area may supplement a basic mechanical engineering program with electives chosen from the following courses: 

  • MAE 3050 Intro to Aeronautics
  • MAE 4060 Introduction to Spaceflight Mechanics
  • MAE 4070 Dynamics of Flight Vehicles
  • MAE 4150 GPS: Theory and Design
  • MAE 4160 Spacecraft Technology and Systems Architecture (or choose the MAE 4161 version to fulfill senior design ONLY)
  • MAE 4230 Intermediate Fluid Dynamics (or choose the MAE 4231 version to fulfill senior design ONLY)
  • MAE 4440 Spacecraft Thermal Management
  • MAE 4540 Propulsion of Spacecraft

For M.E. Majors intending to earn a Minor in Aerospace, two courses must be selected from the Aerospace Engineering courses listed above. These two courses may not be used towards fulfilling the B.S., M.E. degree requirements. 


Biological systems present a wide range of analysis and design problems that include all aspects of mechanical engineering. Our current focus in this concentration is on the mechanics and control of the musculoskeletal system. Mechanical engineers are engaged in understanding the behavior of components of the skeletal system such as bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles, and the performance of systems comprised of these components. Mechanical engineers are also involved in the design of diagnostic and surgical procedures for diseases that damage the musculoskeletal system. Courses of interest are: 

  • MAE 4640 Orthopaedic Tissue Mechanics (or choose the MAE 4641 version to fulfill senior design ONLY)
  • MAE 4650 Biofluid Mechanics (or choose the MAE 4651 version to fulfill senior design ONLY)
  • MAE 4660/BME 4010 Biomedical Engineering Analysis of Metabolic & Structural Systems
  • MAE 5680/BME 5810 Soft Tissue Biomechanics

Energy and the Environment

Energy is central to modern society: for transportation, for production of goods and electricity, for heating and cooling buildings, and for the new habitats of space and ocean. The increasing energy demands and the associated environmental impacts such as global climate change have made sustainable development a vital issue of our time. The Energy-Environment interaction is the core of the sustainable development problem as well as our energy security. Mechanical engineers are involved with all aspects of the development of sustainable energy sources, and with the production and conversion of energy to provide the power needs of society in an efficient and environmentally safe fashion. Mechanical engineering activities range from research and development of solar, wind and other renewable energy conversion devices to the efficient use of conventional and nuclear fuels for generating electric power, and for all aspects of terrestrial and aerospace propulsion.

  • MAE 4020 Wind Power (or choose the MAE 4021 to fulfill senior design ONLY)
  • MAE 4120 Community Wind Energy Research (or choose the MAE 4121 version to fulfill senior design ONLY)
  • MAE 4230 Intermediate Fluid Dynamics (or choose the MAE 4231 version to fulfill senior design ONLY)
  • MAE 4580 Intro to Nuclear Science Engineering
  • MAE 4590 Introduction to Controlled Fusion
  • MAE 5010 Future Energy Systems
  • MAE 5430 Combustion Processes

Engineering Materials

Engineering materials are the building blocks upon which all engineered products rely. They include biological tissues, metals, plastics and composites. This concentration focuses on the properties that these materials bestow upon mechanical systems.

  • MAE 3120 Mechanical Properties of Materials, Processing and Design
  • MAE 3130 Atomic and Molecular Structure of Matter
  • MAE 4130  Mechanics of  Composite Structures  (or choose the MAE 4131 version to fulfill senior design ONLY)
  • MAE 4240 Materials Processing and Manufacturing
  • MAE 4330 Applied Mechanics of Solids
  • MAE 4450 Additive Manufacturing: Process Physics, Materials, Properties, and Post-Processing
  • MAE 4640 Orthopaedic Tissue Mechanics (or choose the MAE 4641 version to fulfill senior design ONLY)
  • MAE 4670 Polymer Mechanics (or choose the MAE 4671 version to fulfill senior design ONLY)
  • MAE 4700 Finite Element Analysis for Mechanical and Aerospace Design 
  • MAE 4721 Advanced Applications of Finite Element Analysis Using ANSYS
  • MAE 5130 Mechanical Properties of Thin Films
  • MAE 5720 Advanced Applications of Finite Element Analysis Using ANSYS

Mechanical Systems and Design

Mechanical engineers engage in the design of a very broad range of equipment: for example, steam, gas, and water turbines and diesel engines, automatic production machinery and machine tools; mining and oil production equipment; refrigerating and air-conditioning equipment; printing machines and reproduction equipment and consumer products of great variety. Mechanical engineers can be found designing nuclear and electrical machinery and hardware; heating, flow and storage equipment for chemical plants and for food making, and such computer peripherals as disk drives and printers. Courses of interest are:

  • MAE 3780 Mechatronics (*see note below)
  • MAE 4150 GPS: Theory and Design
  • MAE 4180 Autonomous Mobile Robot
  • MAE 4190 Fast Robots
  • MAE 4220: Introduction to Internet of Things - Technology and Engagement, (or choose the MAE 4221 version to fulfill senior design ONLY)
  • MAE 4320 Integrated Micro Sensors and Actuators: Bridging the Physical and Digital Worlds
  • MAE 4341 Innovative Product Design via Digital Manufacturing 
  • MAE 4351 Interdisciplinary Design Concepts (senior design OR major-approved elective.  Note that credit cannot be received for both MAE 4351 and MAE 4341/5340).
  • MAE 4630/5630: Advanced Product Design (or choose the MAE 4631 version to fulfill senior design ONLY)
  • MAE 4700 Finite Element Analysis for Mechanical and Aerospace Design 
  • MAE 4730 Intermediate Dynamics
  • MAE 4760 Foundations of Robotics
  • MAE 4770 Engineering Vibrations
  • MAE 4780 Feedback Control Systems
  • MAE 4810 Robot Perception
  • MAE 5120 3D Printing Parts that Won't Break: From Processing to Performance
  • MAE 5910 Model-Based Systems Engineering

*Note: Students taking MAE 3780 to fulfill the electrical circuits requirement may not also use MAE 3780 as a Major-Approved Elective.

Thermo-Fluids Engineering

Analysis of propulsion systems, energy generation processes, and biomedical technologies requires knowledge of thermodynamics, heat and mass transfer, combustion, and laminar and turbulent fluid flow. This concentration includes both courses in the fundamentals of the thermal/fluids discipline and in applications. Courses of interest:

  • MAE 4230 Intermediate Fluid Dynamics (or choose the MAE 4231 version to fulfill senior design ONLY)
  • MAE 4360 Multiphase Computation
  • MAE 4510/5510 Propulsion of Aircraft and Rockets
  • MAE 4530/BEE 4530 Computer-Aided Engineering: Applications for Biomedical Processes
  • MAE 4540 Propulsion of Spacecraft
  • MAE 5010 Future Energy Systems
  • MAE 5310 Advanced Thermodynamics of Multiphase Systems
  • MAE 5430 Combustion Processes

Vehicle Engineering

Transportation is vital to the operation of our society and comprises about one-fifth of the Gross National Product. Our Transportation requirements are being met primarily by automobiles and by heavy-duty trucks. In the future, questions of economy, pollution, safety and convenience will cause the major of vehicle engineering to remain a very important area for mechanical engineers.

The mechanical engineer is involved in transportation through the design of the vehicle, its engine, and its other components. In addition, the mechanical engineer is concerned with solving many of the problems associated with vehicle operation.

At Cornell, vehicle engineering currently includes studies of engine design and emissions as well as of vehicle design, handling and braking. The following courses are concerned with these and other aspects of vehicle engineering. They are suggested for those who have an interest in eventual work in vehicle engineering.

  • MAE 3050 Intro to Aeronautics
  • MAE 3870 Electric Vehicles
  • MAE 4860 Automotive Engineering (or choose the MAE 4861 version to fulfill senior design ONLY)
  • MAE 5070 Dynamics of Flight Vehicles