UT Martin students test their aircraft created for the SAE aerospace competition.

Department of Engineering introduces B.S. in Mechanical Engineering


The University of Tennessee at Martin Department of Engineering has established a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (BSME) degree that began accepting students in the fall 2020 semester. Previously, the department only had a Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSE) degree with a concentration in mechanical engineering.

Dr. Shadow JQ Robinson, dean of the College of Engineering and Natural Sciences, says the new degree program was a result of the mechanical engineering industry-required qualifications students need to find careers in the field after graduating from UT Martin. While the new BSME degree consists of the same classes as the BSE with a concentration in mechanical engineering, the formal designation of a degree is more widely recognized by employers.

“For many large employers and for many prospective students, they want to see the bachelor of science in mechanical engineering,” said Robinson. “The curriculum we had in the concentration was every bit of the curriculum we would have for the full degree. Once the change was approved by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, we shaped it into a full Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering.

“By getting that degree title changed, it now broadcasts to everyone that this is the full curriculum that you would get at any other four-year university offering the Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, and you can get it here,” Robinson continued.

Sarah Craigie, a senior engineering major with a concentration in mechanical engineering, said she is excited about the new degree and how it can help her future career. While she will graduate just as qualified in the mechanical engineering concentration as the degree, she knows employers are looking for, as she explained, a master of the trade.

“When you tell an employer that you have a BSE degree, you are saying that you have a base covering of each engineering field. This basically means you know a bit about civil, mechanical and electrical engineering instead of just focusing on a single field. The saying, ‘a jack of all trades is a master of none’ is a very true statement, and employers will keep this in mind when sizing your skills up against other applicants,” Craigie said. “Employers obviously want the best fit for a job so (they) will choose ‘masters’ over ‘jacks.’ … I personally want to embark in the very competitive field of aerodynamics once I graduate, so every edge I can get above my fellow job seekers (such as graduating with a BSME) is very welcome.”

The Department of Engineering already requires students pursuing a BSE with a concentration in mechanical engineering to pass the FE Mechanical Engineering licensing exam before graduating in order to ensure the students are capable of succeeding in the field. Now with the BSME, the faculty are sure the students are fully equipped with the knowledge to be mechanical engineers.

“What that does for our students is makes them more marketable, more recognizable,” said Dr. Tim Nipp, chair of the engineering department. “What we’re excited about is what it offers the students. It gives them more options, and that is what it’s all about; it’s about the students.”

The BSE degree also features concentrations in civil, electrical, computer, manufacturing and mechatronics engineering. The Department of Engineering plans to expand more concentrations in the future to serve more students and industry.

Although the UT Martin Department of Engineering is accredited through the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, ABET, the new degree program will not be accredited until the first students enrolled in the program graduate, which is expected to happen in spring 2021. ABET will review the program’s accreditation in fall 2022 during the department’s next accreditation cycle, and if successful, the accreditation will be backdated to 2020 when the program began so graduates will earn their degrees from an accredited program.

ABET is the global accreditor of college and university programs in applied and natural science, computing, engineering and engineering technology. For more information about ABET accreditation, visit abet.org.

For more information about the Department of Engineering, contact Nipp at tnipp@utm.edu.



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