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Mechanical Engineering PhD 


The mission of the mechanical engineering doctoral program is to provide students with advanced learning in the classroom and mentoring to conduct cutting-edge research in the areas of thermo-fluid sciences, mechanical systems, or manufacturing/controls. The primary goal of the program is to develop technical experts that become world-class scholars and leaders in either academia or industry.


Through the education offered by the PhD/ME program, students will learn:

  • to formulate solutions to mechanical engineering problems through the use of multi-disciplinary approaches
  • to be able to grow professionally and personally
  • to serve their profession and community as valuable contributing leaders


Students undertaking education in PhD/ME program are expected to

  • expand the knowledge and understanding of methods and approaches in 1 or more focused areas of Mechanical Engineering
  • formulate solutions to problems related to thermo-fluid sciences, mechanical systems, or manufacturing/controls
  • be able to conduct basic or applied research and development in Mechanical Engineering
  • become an engineer who will serve their profession and community as valuable contributing leaders


The Doctor of Philosophy program at the South Dakota Mines helps mechanical engineering professionals advance to the next academic and professional level.

smvMEMuciStudent130x195With a PhD in ME, professionals can work as an educator and/or in advanced research, design, and development. You'll be well-prepared for whatever path you choose to take after graduate school. The ME department at South Dakota Mines is committed to helping students achieve their doctoral degree by fostering a culture of high-quality research work through regular presentations by faculty and research assistantship opportunities.

The ME department has close ties with both the Advanced Materials Processing center (AMP)which boasts a world-class friction stir welding system and the Additive Manufacturing Laboratory (AML) which houses both the Laser Powder Deposition Laboratory and Direct Write Laboratory. The Polymer Technology, Processing, and Composites Laboratory and the Experimental and Computational Mechanics Laboratory (ECML) are both new additions to South Dakota Mines.

The mechanical engineering PhD program is designed to give students an advanced educational experience in mechanical engineering, plus a specialization in one of three areas: thermal science, solid mechanics, or controls and robotics. Students graduating from the CSE (Computer Science and Engineering) master's degree program, who wish to continue on to earn a doctoral degree, can easily do so within the ME PhD program. Robotics faculty on campus (those within and outside the mechanical engineering department) can direct PhD dissertation study in robotics through the mechanical engineering department. 

Current CSE students who wish to continue and obtain the ME PhD can take the required Engineering Analysis I and II courses (ME 673 and ME 773) as part of the CSE curriculum electives. The student and his/her graduate advisor will select a graduate committee that will guide him/her towards a robotics and controls-oriented PhD. Learn more about the CSE program and how you can incorporate classes into your program that will better prepare you for a PhD. in mechanical engineering.

Research Equipment and Facilities

The ME Graduate Studies and Research Program focuses on three primary areas of scientific research in mechanical engineering and engineering mechanics: fluid dynamics & thermal science, solid mechanics & material science, and robotics & controls. The search activities of the ME faculty involve both computational and experimental efforts across several departmental laboratories, including the Center for Advanced Multidisciplinary Projects (CAMP); Energy Storage Lab (ESL); Experimental and Computational Mechanics Laboratory (ECML); Fluids, Thermodynamics, and Heat Transfer lab; Holistic Engineering Learning Lab and Observatory (HELLO); Joining and Mechanics of Polymers (JMP) lab; Laboratory of Interfacial Transport (LIT); Laser Plasma Diagnostics Lab (LPDL); Powerful high-performance computing cluster; and Robotics and Computational Kinematics Innovation (ROCKIN) lab.

Strong research collaborations exist among these laboratories as well as campus-wide research centers, such as:

  • Additive Manufacturing Laboratory (AML)
  • Arbegast Materials Processing and Joining (AMP) lab
  • Center for Security Printing and Anti-Counterfeiting Technology (SPACT)
  • Composites and Polymer Engineering (CAPE) lab
  • Surface Engineering Research Center (SERC)

Program Overview 

The mechanical engineering (ME) PhD program at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology allows students to reach the highest level of academic achievement. In addition to teaching in academia, program graduates can pursue careers at research centers in national laboratories and research & development (R&D) centers in automotive, aerospace, oil, and gas. Students will have a chance to work with faculty involved in research at the forefront of their fields and to publish in acclaimed journals. They will conduct experimental/numerical/theoretical research in one of three areas: thermo-fluid sciences, solid mechanics & materials science, and robotics & controls. The program emphasizes flexibility, breadth, and depth: flexibility for the student and his/her doctoral committee to make choices; breadth across disciplines within and outside of mechanical engineering; and depth in one or more sub-disciplines.

View for more details about the curriculum in the online catalog.

Application Process:

We encourage you to apply now

All applicants are automatically considered for funding opportunities and do not need to fill out any additional forms.

Funding opportunities, in the form of both teaching and research assistantships, are available for exceptional students. If you are selected for an assistantship, you will receive confirmation via email from the ME department program assistant Leslee Moore, Dr. Albert Romkes, or Dr. Pierre Larochelle.

Western Regional Graduate Program States Map

The Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP) Reciprocity Agreement allows residents of WICHE states to attend grad school at South Dakota Mines at the resident tuition rate. And, Minnesota residents are eligible for reciprocity benefits. Learn More.