Message from the Chair



Welcome to the Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering (MAE) at UC San Diego. Our mission is to provide students with a strong technical education that will enable them to have successful careers as engineers, technology leaders and innovators, keeping up with the rapid technological advances across a range of disciplines. We strive to prepare our students to communicate effectively and to deal knowledgeably and ethically with the impact of technology in our society and on global issues. Our programs rank among the top in the nation. In 2015, the US News and World Report Rankings, ranked UC San Diego’s Mechanical Engineering program 16th and the Aerospace Engineering program 20th. Our remarkable faculty have received numerous awards and accolades: there are 9 members of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), 3 fellows of the NAE equivalent in Germany, Spain and UK, and 21 professors are fellows of professional societies.

In addition to a rigorous academic curriculum, our undergraduates are very active with extracurricular activities performed under various Student Organizations. Acting as Faculty Advisors, our faculty work with several of these organizations and provide them guidance and support. In addition, the department plans to expand its existing Machine Shop into a Megashop (a much larger and fully equipped facility) that will provide enhanced laboratory learning and hands on experience to all engineering students by taking the theoretical knowledge learned in a classroom environment and applying it to real world tactile solutions.  

Our faculty conduct research to advance scientific knowledge and create technological innovations to solve outstanding problems in various areas. Faculty research activities range from mathematical analysis to novel scientific discovery to innovations in technology. In a rigorous and comprehensive report on doctoral programs last released by the National Research Council in 2010, we were ranked 10th in the nation.  In a report of MAE’s most recent Graduate Program Review the visiting committee, comprised of faculty from leading US Universities, emphasized “We were struck by the healthy combination of fundamental engineering science and exciting applications that we saw. This is a significant distinctive strength of this department that should be maintained and encouraged”. A recent Scientific American article ranks UC San Diego as #6 nationally in the domain of high-quality publications which have significant input from MAE faculty and graduate students.


Our faculty participate and have leadership roles in research centers enhancing interdisciplinary collaborations (school wide, nationally/internationally) and fostering strong partnerships with industry. These include the CaliBaja Center for Extreme Environments Research, the Center of Excellence for Advanced Materials, and the Center for Energy Research. MAE is home to the UCSD wide Materials Science and Engineering program whose leadership is traditionally provided by our faculty. Many of our faculty are actively involved in the Contextual Robotics Institute to develop safe and useful robotics systems. We are also focusing our efforts to enhance research collaborations with Scripps Institute of Oceanography


Vitali F. Nesterenko

Distinguished Professor & Chair

Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering

University of California, San Diego