An online bachelor's degree program in mechanical engineering can give students the necessary foundation in core engineering subjects such as math, CAD, communication and applied sciences. These programs focus on the design, construction and maintenance of machines, structures and tools.
Bachelor's-level programs in this field that are offered through distance learning are available at four-year universities and colleges, many of which are public institutions. Because of the hands-on nature of the engineering field, these programs are typically in a hybrid format, which combines online coursework with some learning experiences or lab work on campus. Students seeking a fully-online program in a field related to mechanical engineering may pursue a online bachelor's degree programs in fields like engineering management or electronics engineering technology.
Students with no previous college credits may complete a mechanical engineering bachelor's program in four to six years, depending on their enrollment status. Those who have completed transferable general education courses prior to admission may be able to earn their degree in less time. In some cases, a school might approve course waivers for students with certain professional experience in engineering.
Program Information and Requirements
The mechanical engineering online program is most commonly presented as a blended program with the majority of courses given through distance learning, along with an on-site lab-based component. Because one draw of online degree programs can be the ability for students to set their own hours, schools often work with students to find lab hours that can fit into a student's schedule.
The online course components of the mechanical engineering bachelor's degree program are delivered through a college-provided Web service. The professor posts readings such as important engineering textbook passages, noteworthy advances in mechanical engineering, engineering designs and self-written lectures.
Courses may be taught entirely through posted readings or may contain audio or video recordings of class lectures. Many courses may also have a forum or other chat system where engineering students can hold discussions, compare notes, check each other's formulas and hold ongoing Q&A with the professor.
Classes for the online Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering program include applied sciences such as chemistry and physics, as well as multiple mathematics and engineering courses. Freshman coursework lays the foundations of individual subjects to be expanded upon in later years.
This class covers the core concepts of chemistry and includes a lab component. Subjects discussed include matter states, atoms, molecules, ions, bonding, intermolecular forces, acids and bases, electrochemistry, thermodynamics and kinetics. Lab work is most often completed on campus and demonstrates skills learned through the course.
Statics and Dynamics
The statics portion of this course covers topics like shear and moment diagrams, laws of friction, distributed loads and free body diagrams. The dynamics potion covers Newton's laws of motion, kinetics, impulse-momentum principles and work energy.
This course covers the properties of liquids, particularly involving motion. Specific topics may include transport theory, fluid statics and dynamics, pipe flows, compressible flows, dimensional analysis and boundary layer concepts.
Machine Design and Dynamics
The class studies the theoretical aspect of forces acting upon a machine that can be directly applied to machine design as well as how to design and implement machine components like gears, shafts, bearings and different kinds of joints. This class may have a lab component for practical application of theory.
This class covers the core concepts of a machine system and teaches students to create a complete, working machine in a lab co-requisite. The class also covers research methods and marketing analysis, as well as exploring alternatives and meeting design goals.
Online mechanical engineering degree programs allow students to study engineering topics at their on pace and schedule, though some on-campus labs or classes may be required. These programs provide students with practical information about the design, maintenance and operation of a variety of mechanical machinery, tools and systems.