Mechanical Engineering at IIT Bombay
This content is prepared by students of IIT Bombay, describing the programmes offered at IIT Bombay based on our experience at IITB. The description of each programme is focused on how it is structured at IIT Bombay and the nature of similar programmes offered at other colleges might be different.
Course Code – B4125
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Mechanical Engineering at IIT Bombay is one of the broadest disciplines that encompasses the core principles of solid and fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, materials science, structural analysis, mechatronics and tools like Computer Aided Design and Manufacturing to design and analyze machines of all sorts and sizes.
For undergraduates, the Department of Mechanical Engineering at IIT Bombay offers two programmes: a 4-year B.Tech. programme and a 5-year Dual Degree programme. The 5-year Dual Degree programme involves specialising in one of the three academic and research themes of the department: design, manufacturing and thermal and fluids engineering. More on these themes later. The department also offers opportunities to pursue the Honours and Minor degrees.
Dual Degree programme
The three academic and research themes of the department and the corresponding Dual Degree specialisations are
● Design — Computer Aided Design and Automation (CADA)
● Manufacturing — Computer Integrated manufacturing (CIM)
● Thermal and Fluid Engineering — Thermal and Fluid Engineering (TFE) (This specialization is not available directly to freshmen and can be taken afterwards.)
A DD programme involves doing an Honours and a M.Tech. apart from the B.Tech. programme. This typically translates to doing one or two more courses every semester compared to the B.Tech. students, starting with the third semester. Most of these courses are electives which can be chosen from a large basket of courses pertaining to that specialisation. In addition, the final year is devoted almost solely to the Dual Degree Project (DDP) that is aimed to give the students a flavour of graduate level research in an area of their interest.
After her/his second year, a B.Tech. student can convert to a Dual Degree programme in either of the above three specializations. A DD student can also change his specialization after the second year but cannot convert to the B.Tech programme. These conversions are subject to certain academic performance criteria and are required to be approved by the Department Undergraduate Committee (DUGC).
Designing machines is one of the principle activities of a mechanical engineer. Easy availability of computers has added speed, accuracy and reliability and has made the overall integration of design easier.
Computer-aided design (CAD), as the name suggests, is the use of computer systems to assist in the creation, modification, analysis, or optimization of a design. CAD has become an important element in modern industry to perfect design, optimize material utilization, minimize cost, reduce design cycle time and customize the activity.
This dual degree programme will focus on the fundamental issues of CAD and automation and their applications. It will cover computer aided stress and mechanical modelling, graphics, finite element and dynamic element packages, automatic and computer controls, micro and nano electro-mechanical systems (MEMS and NEMS), microprocessors, robotics, etc.
To design is to create, analyze and re-create. Sometimes, when you look at objects around you and wonder what could have gone into creating it, what improvements could be made and how to go about them, you are talking about design. Design engineering is the means to answer all such questions.
Design engineering can be carved out into several sub-fields:
· Solid Mechanics: It’s the foundation of design engineering with concepts used in all other sub-fields. It deals with concepts of stress and strains applied to deformable bodies. Taught through various courses like Solid Mechanics, Strength of Materials, Stress Analysis and Advanced Solid Mechanics, it is supported by a lab wherein experiments on bending, torsion, hardness, etc. are performed. Computational Solid Mechanics forms a major area of research in the department.
· Fracture Mechanics: This field is concerned with the study of propagation of cracks, determine driving forces of a crack and predicting the crack path. It forms an indispensable tool in improving the mechanical performance of materials and components.
· Machine Design: It deals with design of gears, clutches, brakes, couplings, welded joints and all sorts of components that make up a machines, taking into account various design considerations-material selection, allowable stresses and deflections, fatigue and factor of safety. Machine design is the hub of design engineering.
· Vibrations: Beginning with the vibrations of strings, taught as a part of JEE, this area extends to vibrations of beams, membranes, plates and shells. It forms the core of noise engineering.
· Mechatronics: This multidisciplinary field that combines mechanics, electronics, controls and computer science is religiously practiced not only by the students of this department but by many others who are interested in automation, robotics and microcontrollers. With wide applications in automotive and manufacturing industry, medical sciences, mechatronics is everywhere.
· Finite Element Method: It’s a numerical technique that sits at the heart of most of the computational techniques used in structural, fluid and heat transfer analysis. Dividing large domains into smaller elements helps find approximate solutions to many real-world problems that may not be easily possible through analytical methods.
Apart from the basic fields that make up design engineering, the department has been venturing into some new fields like mechanics of polymers, crystal plasticity, etc. that add a fresh unit to the perpetually growing creature that design engineering is. However, it’s not only the exciting field of design that makes design engineering at IIT Bombay a huge success but the highly qualified and experienced professors who take personal initiatives to ensure high student performance.
Manufacturing today is loosely used to include all factory functions including product design,development, manufacturing etc. Related terms are Production Engineering and Industrial Engineering. Manufacturing Engineering finds applications in Precision Manufacturing, Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) , Automation and Reverse engineering, Quality assurance and control. It involves planning, managing and control of the operations of a manufacturing plant with the aid of computers.
Check out youtube videos for How It’s made coins, toothbrush, motorcycle engines, luxury watches, etc.
There are several subsections under manufacturing engineering like computer graphics, computer numerical control, material removal process, medical device development, laser machining, modeling of manufacturing processes, microstructural mechanics, inventory management, etc.
Computer graphics, CNC, Rapid Product development are more inclined towards coding. Material removal process and modelling of manufacturing process deals with drilling, cutting, forming, etc. where you need to understand the physics of the problem. This requires you to have more analytical approach and generally involves less coding but more simulation in softwares like ANSYS, COMSOL, ABACUS, etc. Inventory management and quality assurance are more management related topics and requires knowledge of statistical techniques. We have research facilities and courses in another important area of research; which relates this branch with material science. With weight reduction becoming a demand almost everywhere, research in manufacturing using lighter materials like composites is a hot topic these days.
Thermal and Fluid Engineering (TFE)
TFE is one of the foundational themes of ME and a core competency of the department. It finds applications in diverse systems such as airconditioners and refrigerators, fuel cells, IC engines, MRI and NMR machines, nuclear reactors, power plants, satellites and re-entry vehicles, steam and gas turbines, turbomachinery, and so on. It attempts to answer questions like
● Why are certain processes directional? For example, an egg falls on a floor and breaks. However, the reverse process is never observed even though it doesn’t violate the law of conservation of energy.
● How do cats lap up liquids like water or milk so elegantly? Why does a falling column of liquid, like the water from your tap, tend to break up into a series of droplets? How are Rafael Nadal and Michael Phelps empirical fluid mechanists without even knowing it?
● On a sunny day, why is it more comfortable to walk on soil than to walk on rocks? Both are at the same temperature and yet the rocks feel much hotter than the soil.
TFE requires an understanding of concepts in thermodynamics, fluid mechanics and heat transfer. Knowledge of calculus, differential equations and numerical analysis along with some computer programming is also needed. These form the foundation of all applied and advanced subjects in TFE and are taught in great depth. TFE overlaps with many fields of study, e.g., aerospace engineering, earth sciences, energy science and engineering, environmental engineering, and physics.
The professors and students in TFE work on both fundamental and applied problems of theoretical, computational, and experimental nature in science and engineering. These problems span large spatial and temporal scales — from microchannels to the Earth’s atmosphere and from combustion reactions to decay heat removal. Current research in the department encompasses combustion, computational fluid dynamics and heat transfer, cryogenics, enhanced heat transfer, geophysical flows, high performance computing, microfluidics and nanofluidics, multiphase flows, nuclear engineering, numerical methods, reactor safety, refrigeration and airconditioning, shock physics, thermal hydraulics, and turbulence.
The Honours programme facilitates students to specialise in an area of their interest and is a valuable experience if one wishes to pursue further studies in ME.
A B.Tech. student in the department graduates “with Honors” if s/he does two courses and a B.Tech. project (BTP) over and above the B.Tech. credit requirements. Unlike the B.Tech. programme, Honours is a part of the DD programme and a DD student has to take 30 credits worth of courses in order to complete their Honours and thereby their DD credit requirements.
All post graduate level courses in the department and some relevant courses in the Departments of Energy Science and Engineering, Aerospace Engineering, and Industrial Engineering and Operations Research (IEOR) can be taken as Honours electives.