Research Focus Areas

Mechanical Engineering research is supported by a wide variety of exciting, well-funded projects addressing modern topics in key focus areas of Bio Medical, Energy and Environmental, Micro/Nanoscale and Engineering Education.

Research projects harness state-of-the-art experimental, theoretical, and computational approaches in training students and advancing the frontiers of technology, while at the same time focusing on fundamentals in the underlying disciplines of fluid and solid mechanics, thermal engineering, materials engineering, design, manufacturing, and computational engineering.


Graduate and undergraduate researchers enjoy access to leading edge facilities, work closely with vibrant, highly-qualified faculty, and benefit from strong interactions with industry.  Many take advantage of opportunities to work on year-long industry-sponsored design projects facilitated by our Design Center Colorado.  Close partnerships with national research laboratories in the Boulder area further strengthen our research programs.  Our faculty are professionally active and well-recognized.  Nearly all of our senior faculty have attained fellow-level status in major professional societies. Over the last few years our faculty have also received three of the highest awards given nationally by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.


Engineering Education

BioMedical Faculty:

Borden, Ferguson, Hertzberg, Murray, Qi, Rentschler, Tan

Biomechanical engineering is a field which employs quantitative methods in physics, chemistry and biology to develop innovative medical technologies. At CU, we draw from our strengths in biomechanics – the application of classical and quantum mechanics to analyze biological systems – and product design to tackle current and emerging medical challenges, including those in the areas of biomaterials, tissue engineering, imaging and theranostics. We invite you to browse our homepage to learn more about the many exciting projects and opportunities offered by our program.

fergusonqi tan rentschler borden murray

Recent projects include:

Biomechanics of lipid monolayers

Biomechanics of pulmonary hypertension

Microbubbles for intravenous oxygenation and cancer gene therapy

Microstructural modeling of pulmonary artery mechanics

Multiscale modeling for large deformation behavior of erythrocytes

Surgical robots for endoscopy

Surgical tool device design

Theranostic agents for MRI-guided focused ultrasound surgery

Ultrasound molecular imaging of tumor response to therapy

Vascular tissue engineering

Engineering Education Faculty: 

Ferguson, Hannigan, Hertzberg, Kotys-Schwartz, Miller, Reamon, Rentschler

Engineering education encompasses a broad range of issues, from the foundations of educational theory, to the practical issues involved in curricular improvement, including the assessment techniques required to measure the effectiveness of new teaching methods. Faculty in this area investigate interactive instructional techniques and the resulting benefits for students, engineering diversity and inclusiveness, student retention, student motivation, the development of engineering identity, as well as how hands-on engineering education opportunities with physical devices change a learning situation.

Recent projects include:

Assessment triangulation for investigating skill development in capstone design courses

Assessing efficacy of a research-oriented peer mentoring program

Graduate students mentoring undergraduates in research

Factors that impact student motivation in Project-Based Learning

Construction status, prestige, and hierarchy among 1st and 2nd year (freshman and sophomore) engineering students

Energy & Environmental

Energy & Environmental Faculty:

Branch, Daily, Greenberg, Hamlington, Hannigan, Henze, Hertzberg, Kassoy, Kreith, S-H Lee, Y. C. Lee, Milford, Miller,  Peterson, Raj, Reiler, Stoldt, Vasilyev, Weidman, Yang

Research involves the application of fluid and thermal sciences disciplinary strength to modern problems in various energy applications as well as air-quality engineering. Activities are carried out within the Center for Combustion and Environmental Research (CCER), and the Collaborative for Air Quality Research (CAQR).

Experimental, theoretical, and modeling expertise is applied to combustion and heat transfer for propulsion and power generation, computational fluid dynamics, multi-phase heat transfer, nanoscale and ultrafast thermal sciences, aerosol mechanics, atmospheric chemistry, and air-quality modeling. 


Recent energy projects include:

Photonic crystal fiber based micro heat pipe arrays and capillary pumped loops

​Thermal transport in nanofluids and nanolaminates by femtosecond photo-thermal imaging using extreme ultraviolet (EUV)

​Biomass pyrolosis

​MEMS scale combustors for power generation applications

​Turbulence in planar jets under the influence of micro-actuators

Recent air quality engineering projects include:

Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation for inactivating airborne bacteria and fungi

​Filtration of airborne particulate matter

​Manufacturing of inhalable drug particles

​Air pollution health effects

​Atmospheric aerosols from biogenic hydrocarbon oxidation


Micro/Nanoscale Faculty:

Bright, George, S-H Lee, Y. C. Lee, Qi, Xiao, Yang

​Research involves micro- and nano-electromechanical systems (MEMS and NEMS) for transducers, sensors, and actuators. Atomic, nano, and micro fabrication technologies and advanced packaging are strengths. Visible, active programs are also underway in nano and microscale characterization, simulation, and design of materials.

Recent projects include:

Carbon nanotube technology for microsystems

Micro heat pipe technology

Nanoscale and ultrafast thermal sciences

Thermoelectric devices and materials

Electrochemical phenomena in microsysytems

Microfluidics for manipulation of chemical and biological species

Atomistic and molecular modeling of structure, transport, and mechanical behavior

Multifunctional energy harvesting and storage devices

Atomic layer thin-film deposition for MEMS/NEMS