PhD in Mechanical Engineering

Doctor of Philosophy

The PhD in Mechanical Engineering at WPI allows you to advance your studies and contribute original research to your chosen focus. Our flexible, multidisciplinary curriculum and extensive industry connections let you pursue the most appropriate and tailored path to exceed your career goals and address the major engineering challenges of the 21st century.

Working alongside our world-renowned faculty and within a collaborative and supportive research environment, you’ll lead breakthrough research in areas like assistive technology, biomedical robots, digital manufacturing, electronics cooling, nanotechnology, holography, and medical imaging that can have life-changing results.


You can tailor WPI’s PhD in Mechanical Engineering to suit your professional and personal goals. After passing an admissions exam that determines your abilities in several areas, you’ll take courses or complete an independent study project in your field of interest while leading up to your dissertation research.

Our many research centers offer the input of almost 100 members across several industries and offer rich opportunities for diverse projects. The cooperative atmosphere brings innovative research prospects with the support of both WPI and industry partners.

Research for PhD in Mechanical Engineering

As a candidate pursuing a PhD in Mechanical Engineering at WPI, we don’t expect your research to simply confront obvious challenges—we want you to identify problems no one has identified before. We’ll give you the support and the facilities to do just that in several labs or within one of the department’s many industry-supported centers.

Whether your interests lean toward structures and materials or toward fluids and thermal engineering, WPI’s mechanical engineering graduate program allows you to shape your studies according to your career goals.

Faculty in WPI’s mechanical engineering department pursue research in areas that are varied, but all have an important impact on humanity.

Mechanical engineering includes studies in areas including aerospace and materials science.

Research possibilities include collaborations with local industries working on immediate healthcare needs or with NASA on future space exploration and technology.

Students and faculty work collaboratively on well-funded research projects, opening up valuable opportunities and possibilities for internships, collaborations, and potential employment.

Well-equipped facilities and accessible research labs let you focus on your research at hand.

WPI’s extensive, well-funded facilities accommodate nearly every research niche in the field. In our state-of-the-art labs, you’ll have access to the latest equipment and will foster collaborative relationships with fellow researchers across disciplines.

Faculty Profiles

Jamal Yagoobi

I enjoy teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Teaching is very rewarding, and it allows me to interact with the students. My teaching portfolio includes undergraduate and graduate level courses in the areas of heat transfer, fluid mechanics, liquid/vapor phase change, thermodynamics, and design of thermal systems.

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Raghvendra V. Cowlagi
Associate Professor, Aerospace Engineering

Autonomous vehicles – aircraft, cars, rovers, over- and underwater vehicles that can move in the real world by themselves without human pilotage – have gained immense importance not only due to the broad spectrum of their potential military and civilian applications, but also due to the concurrent development of sensor technology and embedded systems that enable the realization of true autonomy.

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Gregory S. Fischer

Professor Fischer is the William Smith Dean's Professor and a faculty member in Robotics Engineering with a appointments in Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering at WPI. He received his PhD in Mechanical Engineering in 2008 from Johns Hopkins University, where he was part of the NSF Engineering Research Center for Computer Integrated Surgery. At WPI he has been an integral part of developing the Robotics Engineering program and teaches primarily junior-level and graduate courses in Robotics.

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Jagannath Jayachandran
Assistant Professor, Aerospace Engineering

My research is aimed towards understanding fundamental aspects of reacting flows at thermodynamic conditions of relevance to aircraft, rocket, and automobile propulsion. Reacting flow phenomena occurring in engines are complicated as a result of turbulent flow, interaction with solid boundaries, and extreme thermodynamic conditions. In order to understand and simulate combustion phenomena under such conditions, there is a necessity to develop accurate chemical kinetic and molecular transport models in addition to fluid mechanics models.

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Jane Li
Assistant Professor, Robotics Engineering

My research bridges the gap between human-robot interaction and human movement science. I am particularly interested in the design of human-robot interfaces and assistive robot autonomy, based on the understanding of the perception-action coupling of humans and cyber-human systems. At WPI, I primarily work on tele-nursing robots and assisted teleoperation interfaces. I also have extensive experience in exoskeletons for rehabilitation and tele-surgical robots.

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Yuxiang Liu

The overarching theme of my research is light-matter interactions and their applications in microscale and nanoscale. Particularly, my research interests include optical trapping, optofluidics, nanophotonics, cavity optomechanics, and fiber optic sensing systems, with an emphasis on optical actuation, damping, and sensing of mechanics in micro-/nano-scale structures and biological specimens. The potential applications of my research include on-chip disease diagnosis, in vivo disease treatments, motion detection in consumer electronics, health monitoring, and biomechanics.

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Balaji Panchapakesan

Dr. Panchapakesan is the director of the Small Systems Laboratory (SSL) which is dedicated to the development of multi-functional materials, devices and systems at the macro-, micro-, meso- and nanoscales. Our work spans in multiple areas bridging multiple disciplines and multiple length scales. Facilities at SSL include fabrication and characterization units for advanced materials, device processing and testing and biomaterials characterization. Access to the clean room facilities around the Boston area adds to the excitement of student learning as well as experimentation.

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Elevate Your Career Potential With a Doctorate in Mechanical Engineering Now

Whether you’re already a mechanical engineer working in the field or want to expand your industry connections and exceed your personal career goals, pursuing a doctorate in mechanical engineering will set you up for success. Maybe you have questions about mechanical engineering PhD salary or sample companies who have hired our WPI graduates? Explore our career outlook for mechanical engineering where you’ll find answers to mechanical engineering PhD jobs, top companies our graduates work at like Amazon Robotics, BOSE, and even Space X, and more. Are you interested in learning more about our robust research offerings? Explore how you can make new discoveries and solve critical engineering challenges on our research page.

Forge Your Path by Earning a Master’s First

Are you a mechanical engineering professional ready to tackle critical engineering challenges and assume a leadership role in the field? Earn a master’s in mechanical engineering which will immerse you in diverse research areas for top companies like NASA, BOSE, and more. Seek new discoveries and be on the forefront of solutions to pressing challenges as you work with our world-class faculty members. From fluids engineering to energy and science or even nano and micro engineering, you’ll have the opportunity to dive into whichever area interests you most. Do you prefer a flexible online format? You can take classes when it’s most convenient for you with our master’s in mechanical engineering online.

Become an Engineering Leader with a Graduate Certificate

Are you driven by creating innovative solutions and advancing as a leader in your industry? Our mechanical engineering for technical leaders graduate certificate empowers mechanical engineers like you to be well-rounded in the field. Our grad certificate combines leadership, management, and technical coursework to deliver students a well-rounded education. Advance your career without skipping a beat with our flexible online format and work with your faculty advisor to determine a relevant plan of study that fits your career goals.

Start with a Foundation in Mechanical Engineering Studies

Mechanical engineers can focus their academic and career paths on the topics that interest them the most. At WPI, the bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering lets you explore such diverse areas as biomechanical engineering, energy, engineering mechanics, manufacturing engineering, materials science, mechanical design, and/or robotics. Your course work in mathematics, chemistry, physics, and several engineering disciplines helps you gain a foundation while focusing on work that motivates you. And our project-based approach means your undergrad work lets you apply your knowledge to problems you’ll see in the real world. If you’re interested in gaining the fundamental ideas behind mechanical engineering, but are majoring in a different discipline, then a mechanical engineering minor is a good option. You’ll gain the knowledge you need to apply mechanical engineering principles to your area of study. This valuable perspective enriches what you are learning and helps you sharpen your critical thinking skills, too.

WPI is proud to be the recipient of not one, but two National Science Foundation Research Traineeship programs. The programs provide exceptionally talented graduate students with specialized training and funding assistance to join careers at the forefront of technology and innovation. The programs are for graduate students in research-based master's and doctoral degree programs in STEM. Learn more.