The Department of Mechanical Engineering at SMU offers vigorous research programs. Students are encouraged to participate in research projects conducted by our faculty and to consider extending their studies toward a graduate degree in Mechanical Engineering at SMU or elsewhere.

Students interested in a particular area of research can contact faculty who specialize in that subject, or view available opportunities on our Undergraduate Research Opportunities page. Below is a list of the major areas of research in which our faculty and students are involved.

Research at SMU is active in many areas of heat transfer, fluid mechanics and thermodynamics. Research topics span from fundamental studies of thermal transport and fluid mechanics to applications in manufacturing, materials processing, microelectronics, bioengineering and the environment. Several experimental and numerical studies are currently active, including:

  • Modeling of transport phenomena in porous media
  • Cooling of high heat flux electronics
  • Measurement and prediction of thermal transport in thin electronic films
  • Numerical modeling of free surface fluid flows, Tsunami mitigation, and fluid-solid interactions
  • Heat transfer, phase change, and fluid flow on short time and spatial scales, with applications to laser micromachining
  • Vortex dynamics, pulsed jet propulsion, and aquatic propulsion

Research facilities include the Laboratory for Porous Materials Applications, the Sub-Micron Electro-Thermal Sciences Laboratory, the Laser Micromachining Laboratory, the Experimental Fluid Mechanics Laboratory and the Micro Sensor Laboratory.

Research in solid mechanics, materials engineering, and structures at SMU focuses on experimental characterization and computational analysis of engineering materials, earthquake engineering and structural dynamics. Currently active research topics include::

  • Multi-scale materials modeling, higher-order continuum theories 
  • Traumatic brain injury, biomechanics, mechanics of soft materials
  • 3-D printed materials, nanocomposites, cellular and porous materials, textile and ballistic materials
  • Indentation/contact mechanics, impact mechanics, damage and fracture mechanics
  • Inelastic deformation and ductile failure of advanced high strength steels (AHSS) and their weld joints
  • Constitutive micromechanical modeling of polycrystalline plasticity
  • Robust digital image correlation algorithms and techniques for mechanical characterization of materials

The Systems, Measurement, and Control Laboratory is equipped for instruction in the design and analysis of analog and digital instrumentation and control systems. Modern measurement and instrumentation equipment is used for experimental control engineering, system identification, harmonic analysis, simulation, and real-time control applications. This laboratory also features equipment for microprocessor interfacing for control and instrumentation. Research activities promote strong interdisciplinary collaboration between several branches of engineering and biomedical sciences. The research interests are centered on several focus areas:

  • Robotic orthoses, prostheses and rehabilitation devices for individuals with disabilities
  • Medical robotics, especially novel robotic applications in minimally invasive, natural orifice, and image guided surgery
  • Measurement of mechanical properties of biological tissue (in vivo and in vitro), with emphasis on bone material
  • Advanced imaging techniques with applications in cancer diagnostics and treatment, and in vivo measurement of tissue mechanical properties

These areas touch upon fundamentals in the analytical dynamics, nonlinear control of mechanical systems, design, applied mathematics, data acquisition, signal processing and high-performance actuators.

Research in manufacturing engineering is conducted at the Research Center for Advanced Manufacturing (RCAM) and the NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Center for Lasers and Plasmas for Advanced Manufacturing. Research in manufacturing is heavily supported by both industry and government funding. The centers support a variety of research and development activities in the areas of rapid prototyping and manufacturing (laser-based, electron beam-based, welding-based), laser materials processing (welding, hybrid welding, forming, surface modification, micromachining), welding (electrical arc welding, friction stir welding, variable polarity plasma arc welding), waterjet/abrasive waterjet materials processing, reverse engineering, sensing and control of manufacturing processes, and numerical modeling of manufacturing processes.