To an engineer, mechanics refers to the branch of physics dealing with the physical laws governing forces, motion, energy, and the deformations of materials under load. Engineers with expertise in mechanics are essential for the design of many projects, from nuclear reactors and energy storage systems to aircraft, automobiles and other mechanical systems. An exciting direction in engineering mechanics at UW-Madison is the astronautics option within the BS degree program. Students who choose this option will learn to apply the laws of physics to problems of rocket guidance and space flight, including orbits of the planets and moons, and the building and control of space stations.
Engineering Physics provides students opportunities to study emerging technologies. Students in this major participate in original research in the technical focus area of their choice. The available focus areas will change as technology progresses. At present, students can select from nanoengineering, plasma science and engineering, and scientific computation Graduates in Engineering Physics are well-suited for careers in high-tech start-up companies, research and development in traditional engineering firms, and pursuing advanced graduate degrees.
Since the discovery of fission 50 years ago, a new field using energy from the atom’s nucleus has developed and electricity is being produced commercially in a several-hundred-billion-dollar industry. Applications of radioactive tracers have been made to medicine, science, and industry. Radiation from particle accelerators and materials made radioactive in nuclear reactors is used worldwide to treat disease, provide power for satellite instrumentation, preserve food, sterilize medical supplies, detect faults in welds and piping, and polymerize chemicals.
We offer a broad program of instruction and research in engineering mechanics. Our mechanics of materials faculty combine the study of mechanics (the study of forces, stresses, deformation and motion as applied to engineering structures) and materials science (the study of material development, fabrication, chemical composition, microstructure and properties) to study a wide variety of engineering problems. We merge these disciplines to dramatically enhance our capability both to understand and characterize existing materials and to invent exceptional new materials.
The "cross-fertilization" resulting from the programs we offer adds strength to each. For example, fluid and solid mechanics are important elements of current research on nuclear reactor safety. Computational research in both engineering mechanics and engineering physics involves similar numerical methods and a common approach to fundamental problems.