UCF’s Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Program was named the nation’s No. 1 workforce supplier to the aerospace and defense industry for the third year in a row, according to a research study by Aviation Week.
“We have students graduating and going to work at some of the top engineering work forces in the country,” said Yoav Peles, chair of the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department. “We have students working at Lockheed Martin, Siemens, the Kennedy Space Center, all over the place.”
The UCF Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering program, which began in 1968, has received national praise on several occasions. The program was designated as a "highest research activity" institution by the Carnegie Foundation and one of the "most innovative" universities by U.S. News and World Report, according a 2018 College of Engineering and Computer Science fact sheet. The program also ranked in the nation's top 25 for number of U.S. patents secured by the National Academy of Inventors.
Director of the Aerospace Program Seetha Raghavan has watched the program evolve throughout her time at UCF.
“It’s exciting because there has been so much growth since I’ve been here 10 years ago," Raghavan said. "So I think in the past 50 years we’ve come so far, and we’ve come so far so fast. There’s always something new that’s happening here.”
The program has more than 11,000 students enrolled and has conferred more than 36,000 degrees since fall 2017, according to the fact sheet.
“In the program over the last few years, we have increased in new faculty, young talent and a lot of enthusiasm,” Raghavan said. “While our student numbers grow, our faculty makes sure that we continue to be innovative in the ways we make these students feel more engaged and involved.”
Minh-Chau Le, UCF senior mechanical engineering major, is involved in several organizations with the engineering program. Through the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department and the organizations she's in, Le said she's been exposed to diverse, hands-on experience.
A few of Le’s endeavors include a research study in which she developed biomaterials for tissue engineering and cancer research, spending two summers at Harvard University designing implantable medical devices to treat ear infections.
She also participated in the Lockheed Martin College Work Experience, where the global security and aerospace company provides UCF students with a year-long paid opportunity to train in their field while using "cutting edge technology."
“The engineering program at UCF really emphasizes students getting hands-on experience, whether that be through undergraduate research, internships or student clubs,” Le said. “The most recent opportunity that the UCF engineering program has given me is the chance to pitch my own senior design project.”
While Le’s senior design project has not officially started yet, her proposed pitch is a robotics rehabilitation device for stroke patients regaining their hand mobility.
“At many schools and in many cases, students don’t get to pick what project they get to work on, but at UCF the coordinators work really hard to match everyone with their top three project choices,” Le said. “The program allows students to pitch our own projects that go with with our long-term career paths.”
Le said she hopes to one day use the knowledge she's learned in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Program to start her own company designing affordable medical devices.
Correction: This article incorrectly referred to Seetha Raghavan as the director of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Her correct title is the director of the Aerospace Program.