Mechanical Engineering

Are you curious about how things work? Do you wonder why the devices you use were designed the way they were? Do you enjoy fixing a problem logically and watching the pieces of the puzzle come together?

At its core, Mechanical Engineering is about solving problems in the world using a combination of technical knowledge and logic. It is the broadest engineering discipline and encompasses solid mechanical and thermal systems.

Mechanical engineers solve problems, design, build, analyze, test, and develop everyday items – such as cars, wheelchairs, refrigerators, and fire sprinklers – as well as things not used everyday such as rollercoasters and robots. The possibilities are endless and have the capacity to improve the lives of people and society.

Our graduates work at Accenture, ExxonMobil, Genesis Health System, Boeing Charleston, Deere & Company, HON Company, Sierra Nevada Corporation Space Systems, and others.

Ambrose Advantages

  • Small Classes
  • Interactive Learning Environment
  • In-Class Projects and Design Experiences
  • Supportive Education: Faculty Focus On You

engineering class

hand manipulating wires

Students with dust masks

Since engineers solve problems in the world around them, we employ individual and group projects and hands-on labs to empower students to make connections and develop skills. Engineering classes are complemented with liberal arts classes’ foundational skills like critical thinking, adaptability, and social responsibility that prepare you for a career. Discover your career potential.

See our mechanical engineering fact sheet (pdf)


ABET logo


The St. Ambrose Industrial and Mechanical Engineering Programs are accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET,

More Information on Mechanical Engineering

What Does a Mechanical Engineer Do?

First and foremost, we solve problems. We design, build, analyze, and test, mechanical and thermal devices. We are developers and we are inventors. Mechanical Engineers design medical devices, robotics systems, microscopic sensors, and large-scale power plants.

Mechanical Engineers design everything from toy cars to car engines, from aerospace systems to air conditioning systems. Nearly every product around you was designed, developed, or manufactured by a mechanical engineer.

What will I learn?

Mechanical Engineering uses a combination of material and economic resources to provide solutions to problems faced in society.

As an applied science, it focuses on design, development, manufacturing, management, and control of engineering systems. Courses include engineering design, materials science, manufacturing, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, control theory, and mechatronics.

These are projects SAU students have worked on recently:

  • Employ the engineering design process to complete a project that solves a problem of a on- or off-campus community partner
  • Design, build, test, and analyze a wind turbine blade system in the subsonic wind tunnel laboratory
  • Design and build an autonomous (with remote control option) robot to compete in a challenge against their classmates
  • Explore the effects of design parameters for different wall insulation designs
  • Design and optimize a thermal power plant with realistic design constraints
  • Analyze and design an automatic steering control system
  • In the senior design capstone class, students work in teams on a project with a local company.

Tom Helms '16 says he loves the constant challenge and evolving nature of engineering. At SAU, we provided the academic rigor and support that helped him thrive. Listen to Tom describe his engineering education in this video.

Read course descriptions

Read ME Degree Requirements

Why Mechnical Engineering at SAU?

The number one priority of SAU Engineering faculty is teaching, and that's why our passionate professors continuously strive to improve your educational experience.

Class sizes are kept small with typically 15-20 students and no more than 30 students. Professors will know your name and who you are. You will not just be a number or face in a crowd.

Add to that the Ambrose Core Curriculum and you will graduate with an interdisciplinary perspective that employers crave: the ability to think critically, create, collaborate, and adapt to change.

Computer and Lab Facilities

Computer Lab - Hayes 316 and 111
All engineering students have 24/7 access to an Engineering Computer Lab. The lab contains computers and monitors with all the software required for engineering courses. In addition, students have free printing (black and white and color) in this lab.

Want to bring your own? Most students also have their own computers. When purchasing a personal computer, choose a laptop or desktop based on your needs and circumstances. For those who prefer a Mac, note that the vast majority of engineering software is written for Windows. It is recommended to get the latest processor technology (Intel i7 processor, AMD equivalent, or M1 chip), 16GB memory (8GB minimum), 1GB graphics card, and a solid state hard drive. Google Drive and applications and MS Office suite are available free for students. (Updated 2022)

Maker Space Prototyping Lab and Design Center - Hayes 302 and 303
The Prototyping Lab and Design Center are the location for many new technologies intended to foster innovation, creativity, and collaboration. Equipment includes several 3D printers, laser cutter, vacuformer, drill press and more. The room contains work tables, computers with all necessary engineering software, and an area for meeting and brainstorming. It's a great place for engineering students to get together to work on homework and projects.

Mechanical Engineering Lab - Hayes 304
Students in the Mechanical Engineering Laboratory use equipment to visualize, control, and test concepts in thermodynamics, fluid flow, and heat transfer, and apply that knowledge to design and build systems involving energy. Additionally, this lab hosts a wind tunnel.

Mechatronics Lab - Hayes 317 and 320
The Mechatronics Lab hosts several mechatronic systems and robots including a Husky UGV (unmanned ground vehicle) with a 7 degree of freedom PANDA robotic arm, NAO humanoids, and TurtleBots.

What learning will occur outside the classroom?

Join one of our student Engineering clubs:

  • Engineering Club: The club hosts pizza and study nights throughout the year, members volunteer at events that promote engineering and community service, organizes tours of local companies, and participates in Quad Cities Engineering and Science Council events.
  • Society of Women Engineers: Our official chapter of SWE focuses on professional development and outreach to youth. Our members visit area schools and tell students about the opportunities that abound in STEM fields. We annually host Introduce a Girl to STEAM where hundreds of girls and young women learn about engineering through hands-on activities.
  • Mecha-Hive Robotics and Design Hive

Internships: Companies throughout the region enthusiastically support our engineering programs by providing internships, professional mentors, and job opportunities. Through our extensive network of engineering alumni and companies across the country, you get on-the-job experience in a mandatory internship at leading manufacturers such as Deere & Company, the Rock Island Arsenal, Caterpillar, and more.

Design Experience: Enroll in sophomore design courses and undertake a real project for a real customer, then present your work at an Engineering Showcase. Our students have completed projects for local companies and even engineered ways to help people with disabilities lead more active lives.

Study Abroad

You've heard people say it before: "College will be the greatest time of your life!" With Study Abroad, you can add even more to your college years.

You can study in another country in a semester-long or short-term study abroad program (with a few offered during spring and winterim breaks). No matter the duration, these trips deepen your professional education while earning credit toward graduation.

There are also opportunities through an exchange program, an overseas internship, or volunteering. The limits for Study Abroad are only ones you set for yourself! SAU students have studied in Italy, Costa Rica, Australia, Korea, United Kingdom, Spain, Ecuador, Japan, Germany, Peru, Cyprus, Croatia, Belize, Canada, Chile, and more.

SAU students returning from their Study Abroad locations talk about their time away as life-changing – personally, emotionally, culturally, and academically.

Click here to search our Study Abroad programs, and for general information click here.

What have alumni of this program done?
  • Keegan Dolphin '22 transferred to SAU from Iowa State University and is now a Product Development Engineer at John Deere. Keagan explains all the opportunities he had at SAU in this video
  • Tom Helms '16 is an Automated Systems Engineer at Genesis Systems, Davenport. Watch this video about Tom's SAU education.
  • Kelsey Page '19 is a field engineer for Utility Concrete Products. She assists in managing a quality control team and oversees geometry control for precast bridge segments for the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Red and Purple Line Modernization.
  • Peter Uzokwe '20 is a telecom engineer for Exelon Corporation. He identifies Fiber Specific Bill of Material whilst confirming material that includes given equipment. He also assists project managers, creates and reviews CAD drawings, evaluates and troubleshoots fiber capacity of existing fiber plant if issues are emitted, and implements the use of GIS Fiber Database application in PNI program.
  • Chris Sulich '20 is an Equipment Operator for Braidwood Nuclear Power Station 20. He take rounds on equipment to ensure operability of plant systems to provide safe, reliable, and resilient power to people.
  • Miranda Noack '20 is getting her master's in bioengineering at the University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz. She is part of the Center for Inclusive Design and Engineering and is working on a device to help clinicians take digital measurements during wheelchair fitting assessments.

Mohamad El-Zein, PhD, Asst. Professor

Andrew Lutz, PhD, Assoc. Professor

Sergiy Markutsya, PhD, Assoc. Professor

Robert Mitchell, PhD, Professor

Michael Opar, PhD, Professor and Chair

Mohammad Rahdar, PhD, Assoc. Professor

Rebecca Romatoski, PhD, Assoc. Professor

Susa Stonedahl, PhD, Professor


ABET Accreditation

The St. Ambrose Mechanical Engineering program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET,

Program Educational Objectives

Students are educated through a carefully engineered curriculum that includes proven engineering design knowledge, an ability to solve real problems, the development of thinking, writing, and presentation skills, exposure to modern computer technologies, an understanding of spatial relationships, and a breadth of general education.

Mechanical Engineering graduates will:

  1. Demonstrate their success through leadership roles.
  2. Advance their expertise through professional practice or graduate education.
  3. Investigate, define, communicate, defend and implement solutions to complex problems.
  4. Enrich their lives and the lives of others.
Student Learning Outcomes

Students are expected to know and be able to do the following student outcomes by the time of graduation. These relate to the skills, knowledge and behaviors that students acquire in their matriculation through the program::

  1. an ability to identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics
  2. an ability to apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration of public health, safety, and welfare, as well as global, cultural, social, environmental, and economic factors
  3. an ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences
  4. an ability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgments, which must consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts
  5. an ability to function effectively on a team whose members together provide leadership, create a collaborative and inclusive environment, establish goals, plan tasks, and meet objectives
  6. an ability to develop and conduct appropriate experimentation, analyze and interpret data, and use engineering judgment to draw conclusions
  7. an ability to acquire and apply new knowledge as needed, using appropriate learning strategies

Scholarships and Grants


St. Ambrose offers excellent scholarships and grants, work-study and other financial aid options! Full-time students may be eligible based on your strong academic performance in college, your talent in fine arts or athletics or your demonstrated financial need as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The SAU school code for the FAFSA is 001889.

First-Year Scholarships and Institutional Aid 2024-2025

Merit-Based Scholarships

4.0 GPA: $24,000
3.75-3.99 GPA: $22,000
3.0-3.749 GPA: $20,000
2.5-2.99 GPA: $18,000
2.0-2.49 GPA: $14,000
If GPA is 2.0-2.49, additional documents and review required for admission.

Merit-Based Scholarships

4.o GPA: $17,000
3.75-3.99 GPA: $16,000
3.0-3.749 GPA: $15,000
2.5-2.99 GPA: $14,000
2.0-2.49 GPA: $13,000
If GPA is 2.0-2.49, additional documents and review required for admission.


Ambrose Advantage Full-Tuition Scholarship
Pell-eligible Iowa residents, learn more here

Fr. Welch Alumni Scholarship: $500 per year
Parent is a St. Ambrose graduate

Catholic Traditions Scholarship: $1,000 per year
Students with Catholic religious denomination or plans to graduate from Catholic high school 

Minority Scholarship: $500 per year
Ethnically diverse student

Athletic Scholarships: varies
Performance and ability

Fine Arts Scholarships: varies
Performance and ability in music, art and theatre

Faith Learning Justice Campus Ministry Scholarships: $2,000 per year
Recognition of involvement in church and community service and interest in strengthening faith and growing as a leader in campus ministry

Scholarships are determined by unweighted GPA, and are renewable for four years of undergraduate student. Increases in scholarship awards due to change in GPA will be reviewed until March 1.

State and Federal Grants, Work Study

Grants are money that you don't repay, and they can come from government or private sources. SAU receives all financial aid funds directly - including loans and grants - then applies them to your account: once in the fall term and once in the spring term. Grants can be used to cover your tuition, books, and housing costs. You must apply for grants each academic year. If you have any loan funds in excess of your costs, you may receive a refund. If you are a first-time borrower, there is a 30-day hold on your first disbursement. For all of these grants, you must complete the Free Application Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as it is available.

Iowa Tuition Grant
To be eligible for the Iowa Tuition Grant, you must be a resident of Iowa as defined by the State Board of Regents and currently enrolled or planning to enroll in an undergraduate degree program at an eligible Iowa college or university (SAU is eligible). Iowa College Aid administers need-based college financial aid for Iowans, such as the Iowa Tuition Grant.
Award: $7,500 maximum

Federal Pell Grant
Awarded to students of the highest need based on how much your family can contribute to your education. The U.S. Department of Education sets a threshold. Then, when you file your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), it computes where you land within that threshold and determines if you qualify for the grant and for how much.
Award: $6,895 maximum

Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
You must file a FAFSA to qualify for a Pell Grant. This grant is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis to students who have submitted all required documents for review and in time for the review to be complete. If you are eligible for a Pell Grant or SEOG, the awards will appear on your financial aid award letter.
Award: $400 maximum

Federal Work Study
Must secure campus employment.
Award: $2,560

Federal Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant 
Provides aid to students intending to teach in a high-need field at a school that serves low-income families (as determined by the U.S. Department of Education or a state education agency). Review criteria and all details here.
Award: up to $4,000

Outside Scholarships

There are many opportunities to receive scholarships from outside sources, here are a few websites to begin researching your options:

Another tip: Next time you're on campus, check out the bulletin board outside Student Financial Services where we post more flyers and applications for outside scholarships.

Engineering Scholarships

Students can apply for the following scholarships; some have specific qualifications.

The SAU Engineering Department faculty are dedicated to helping students apply for scholarships by providing recommendations when appropriate.  

Gene Bleuer Scholarship
This is an annual scholarship that will be fully-funded through an estate gift and awarded to a science major, including engineering, mathematics, computer science, and nursing. 

The Financial Aid Office selects recipients, but recommendations from faculty are welcome. Amount: $1,000/year

Ed '55 and Marilyn Murrin Scholarship
Annual scholarship awarded with these preferences:

  • majors in engineering and the natural sciences, including computer science


  • any student, regardless of major, from the parishes of Parnell Holbrook or Williamsburg

The Financial Aid Office selects recipients, but recommendations from faculty are welcome.

Margaret and Royal Rostenback Scholarship
Students with high financial need and are pursuing studies or careers in science, engineering, social work, or related disciplines.

The Financial Aid Office selects recipients, but recommendations from faculty are welcome.

American Association of University Women (AAUW) Scholarship
This annual scholarship is awarded to a junior or senior female student who has a GPA of at least 3.0.

Engineering faculty select the recipient.

Amount: $500/year

Dan and Pat D'Alessandro Scholarship
This scholarship is through the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend and designated for students majoring in engineering.

Preference is given to students with a Catholic background and/or attended a Catholic high school.

DGR Engineering
This annual scholarship is through DGR Engineering and designated for students majoring in engineering.

Preference is given to students with a minimum 3.0 GPA and completed 45 semester credit hours by June first of the current year in an accredited undergraduate engineering or land surveying degree program within the United Stated.

Amount: $2,000

Elite Scholarship
This essay scholarship contest is through Elite Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.

Preference is given to high school, home-schooled, or college students with a minimum 3.0 GPA and must be anticipating or completed high school diploma/ GED.

Amount: $1,000

IRMCA Scholarship
This annual scholarship is through the Iowa Ready Mixed Concrete Association (IRMCA) designed for students majoring in construction/engineering programs.

Preference is given to students seeking degrees in areas of study relating to careers in the ready mixed concrete and construction/engineering industries

Amount: Ranges from $1,000 to $5,000

Tom Helms

Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering & Industrial Engineering,Automated Systems Engineer, Genesis Systems, Davenport,Class of 2016

Tom loves the constant challenge and evolving nature of engineering. At SAU, we provided the academic rigor and support that helped him thrive. It was a hands-on education in our engineering labs and in local firms, and we pushed Tom to use his growing skills to help a child communicate. His education had a direct impact on his future because we let Tom explore his potential in the world.

See My Story

Apply Visit Info


Michael Opar, PhD

Engineering and Physics Department
Hayes Hall 214
518 W. Locust St.
Davenport, IA 52803

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