Combustion engineering concerns the science of combustion (using heat to harness fuel) and power generation as it applies to manufacturing and industry. There are no degree programs specifically in combustion engineering, however courses in this area can be found within undergraduate and graduate-level mechanical engineering programs, specifically Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering, and Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering. Graduates of these programs who wish to offer services to the public must earn state licensure. Requirements may vary slightly by state, but usually include graduating from an ABET-accredited degree program, having several years of work experience and passing an exam.
A high school diploma or GED and prerequisite coursework in math, physical sciences, and English are all that is needed to enroll in a four-year bachelor's degree. For the two-year master's and five-year doctorate programs, a bachelor's in a relevant field will needed, as well as a high GPA, letters of recommendation, undergraduate transcripts, and satisfactory GRE scores. Doctorate programs may also require students have completed master's-level education and will likely culminate in a dissertation, while a master's degree requires a thesis.
Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering
Mechanical engineering is a broad field and bachelor's degree programs in this discipline cover many topics related to combustion engineering, such as thermodynamics, heat generation, thermoelectric energy conversion, and combustion processes. These programs generally train students in the scientific principles behind power generation. These principles can be used to design, test, and construct machines. Due to the broadness of the mechanical engineering field, many programs offer multiple concentration tracks that allow students to specialize in certain areas. Combustion engineering may be incorporated into one of these concentration tracks, such as energy science or heat-transfer systems.
Bachelor of Science programs combine requirements in computer applications, mathematics, and physics with core requirements, as well as the coursework in a student's chosen concentration track. Possible course topics may include the following:
- Energy conversion
- Fluid mechanics
- Heat transfer laboratory
- Thermal fluids engineering
Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering
Master's degree programs allow students to further specialize in specific focus areas related to combustion engineering, such as energy systems and thermal-fluid systems. Most of these programs include multiple concentration options. Depending on the institution, the master's degree may be offered as an M.S. or a Master of Engineering.
Coursework in master's degree programs varies by concentration but usually encompasses general requirements in engineering analysis and mathematics, as well as specific studies in thermodynamics and materials. Possible course topics might include these:
- Combustion and emissions
- Computational fluid dynamics
- Convection heat transfer
- Radiation heat transfer
- Viscous flow
Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering
The Ph.D. in mechanical engineering is a terminal degree that may be acquired by students who are interested in research and development positions or in working in academia. Ph.D. programs typically have three primary components: advanced coursework in a chosen concentration, doctoral qualifying examinations, and a dissertation defense. Students form a Ph.D. advisory committee to guide them through the composition of a dissertation proposal and then the dissertation itself.
Students interested in combustion engineering may concentrate in an area like thermofluids. Course topics in this concentration may include the following:
- Combustion phenomena
- Condensation heat transfer
- Gas kinetics
- Rocket propulsion
- Sustainable turbines
Popular Career Options
After completing a mechanical engineering program, graduates may pursue entry-level engineering positions in a wide range of industries, including energy. Some individuals may choose to specialize in a specific form of technology. Some possible career options include these:
- Automotive designer and engineer
- Energy consultant
- Fluid engineer
- Heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning engineer
- Nuclear engineer
Career Outlook and Salary Information
The BLS predicts that employment opportunities for mechanical engineers were expected to increase 4% from 2018 to 2028. While some industries that employ these professionals are struggling, such as manufacturing, other industries like alternative energy may create additional opportunities. In May 2018, the BLS reported that the median annual wage for mechanical engineers was $87,370.
Continuing Education and Licensure Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), every state in the U.S. requires engineers who serve the public to be licensed (www.bls.gov). Licensure requirements include a degree from an accredited engineering program, four years of work experience, and the passage of two examinations. In order to maintain licensure, some states require engineers to undertake continuing education in order to maintain licensure.
Bachelor's, master's, and doctorate degrees are available in the field of mechanical engineering, often offering concentrations or covering the topic of combustion engineering as part of their curriculum. For those who want to start a career in engineering after graduation, they will need to be licensed, which will likely need to be maintained through continuing education credits.