The academic dimension
Education and research are two major tasks of the university. Hence, education strongly benefits from an interaction with research. Especially at present, where education is envisaged in a much broader perspective than just a transfer of knowledge, research can bring students in contact with fairly advanced topics. Beside a sound background in basic sciences and their applications, students need to learn how to assimilate independently new information on specialised topics and to develop a creative and critical attitude towards engineering problems.
Under impulse of the European declarations on higher education, these programmes are gradually converted to a Bachelor-Master programme. Moreover more flexible study programmes are enabled to facilitate parttime study trajectories.
Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering
A five-year basic programme leads to the degree of 'Master in de ingenieurswetenschappen'. This degree is equivalent to the Master of Science in Engineering in the USA and Diplom-Ingenieur in Germany. The programme, mainly taught in Dutch, consists of two levels. The first level extends over three years and leads to the degree of 'Bachelor in de ingenieurswetenschappen'. The first three semesters are common for all engineering disciplines (except for major in architecture). Basic sciences and calculus are taught as well as introductory courses in engineering topics. In semesters 4 to 6 students combine a major with a minor option. Mechanical engineering students can combine with geotechnical, chemical, material, electrical, computertechnical and management majors or minors.
In the following two years students specialise in mechanical engineering and take a balanced composition of both general engineering and specialised courses. Creativity and team spirit are stimulated by means of various project assignments carried out by teams of students. Many of these projects are either carried out in collaboration with industry or are linked with current research topics. The students specialise in one of the following clusters:
Each student can complement his choice with a wide range of optional courses, if desired, combined in the following clusters:
The department is also involved in the 'Master of biomedical engineering' which focuses, besides technical subjects, on basic medical and medical technological subjects. The department also signigicantly contributes to the courses in the 'Master of energy engineering', which combines the electrical and mechanical aspects of the production and use of energy.
On behalf of the Faculty of Engineering, the Department of Mechanical Engineering organises a postgraduate programme of Master of Industrial Management that complements the engineer's technical expertise with managerial aspects such as investment analysis, plant location, production and distribution planning, material handling, maintenance and quality. This English programme is a cooperation between K.U.Leuven, KaHo Sint-Lieven, PIH West-Vlaanderen and ICAM Lille.
In collaboration with other departments and faculties, the department organises two other postgraduate programmes. The Master in Safety Engineering and Environmental Co-ordinator combines a multidisciplinary and polyvalent approach with system-technical information in its own discipline. This Dutch programme leads to a degree in safety engineering ('preventie-adviseur, niveau 1') protected by Belgian Law. The programme can be extended in order to obtain the degree of Environmental Co-ordinator (milieucoördinator). Postgraduate Programme in Biomedical Engineering is a joint initiative of the faculties of Engineering and Medicine. This Dutch programme is intended for researchers in biomedical sciences and for engineers working in hospitals or in medical device industry. Also medical doctors, interested in acquiring a more profound background in medical technology, can enter the programme.
Finally, the department contributes to the Master of Nuclear Engineering. This English programme, organised by a nationwide consortium of universities and institutions, provides a training in nuclear techniques with a sound theoretical basis, immediately applied to practical aspects such as the technological design, operation and safety behaviour of nuclear power plants (www.sckcen.be/bnen)
PhD in Mechanical Engineering
In order to obtain a Ph.D. degree in engineering, the candidate must carry out research during at least two years. The doctoral programme also includes a number of specialised courses and seminars. To be admitted to the doctoral programme candidates should hold a degree of Master of Science in engineering from a Belgian university. Foreign students with an equivalent degree are also eligible, but may have to pass a pre-doctoral test or follow a condensed master's programme.
The department organises and contributes to courses, seminars and workshops for engineers in industry and research centres. Recent progress in both theoretical and practical issues is covered. Dedicated courses can be organised upon request.
The international dimension
Both student exchange and staff mobility is strongly encouraged by the Department of Mechanical Engineering in the framework of the European SOCRATES programme. Within this programme about 10 to 15 % of the students annually spend one year in departments of mechanical engineering in, among others, Braunschweig (Germany), Compiègne (France), Graz (Austria), Navarra (Spain), Trondheim (Norway) or Zaragoza (Spain). In addition, some students go as far as the U.S.A (Michigan State University). Moreover, the research staff is truly international, with a large number of visiting professors, postdoctoral fellows and doctoral students coming from abroad.