Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering

Aerospace and Mechanical Engineers design complex mechanical, thermal, fluid, acoustic, optical, and electronic systems, with characteristic sizes ranging from microns to tens of kilometers. Such systems are used everywhere, from the depths of the ocean and far underground, to near-earth, planetary, interplanetary, and galactic space.

Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering (AME) students conduct basic and applied research within and across the usual disciplinary boundaries. AME students develop core and valuable problem-solving skills in the areas of aerodynamics, mechanics, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, heat transfer, materials and design. Our graduates are at the leading edge of academia and industry, tackling innovative, important and exciting challenges.

Curriculum and Emphases

A degree in Aerospace or Mechanical Engineering prepares students to work in a variety of fields involving things that move.  There are three degree options in the department-  check them out here!

Aerospace Engineering

Students who choose to study aerospace engineering will gain a deeper understanding of how things move through the air and fly.  They take all the courses that form a foundation in mechanical principles with a focus on making things fly.

Course Plan
Mechanical Engineering

While studying mechanical engineering, students learn how things move, and how to leverage this phenomenon to create the future of moving objects.  Whether interested in cars, machines, materials, waves, or energy, this program lays the foundation in mechanical principles.

Course Plan
Mechanical Engineering (Petroleum)

A mechanical engineering degree with an emphasis in petroleum allows students to gain the foundation in mechanics while also honing a specialty in areas related to the petroleum industry by taking classes within the petroleum department.

Course Plan


Time it takes for the USC Racing Formula 1 car to go from 0-60 mph

USC Racing designs and builds a formula 1 style race car to take to competition each summer.  They spend the whole year building every element and also working with industry sponsors to gather materials and expertise.

Research Highlights

AME students have the opportunity to work with the world-renowned faculty on research projects including turbulence control, emerging fuel cell technologies, computational fluid mechanics, combustion, heat transfer, automatic control systems, biomechanics, robotics, and nonlinear dynamics. Recent undergraduate research and student projects include the design of fixed and flapping wing systems for small unmanned aircraft, the search for low drag solutions for the global cargo shipping industry, sports injury and helmet design for shock reduction, and optimal control of wheelchairs for humans and hovering flight for animals.

We advance and define research frontiers that shape the future of our life in the air, on the ground, and in space. We push forward the understanding of environments both natural (oceans, atmosphere) and engineered (internal combustion, pulsed ignition). Other efforts advance our understanding of control and dynamics of autonomous systems and robotics, advanced manufacturing technology, aircraft design and flight mechanics of very small and very fast flying machines, and biodynamical systems in medical devices, natural propulsion, and evolutionary system dynamics.

We have a balance of programs – theoretical, computational, and experimental – which exemplify the Viterbi School’s approach to intensive and collaborative research.

Career Options

When you graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering, here are just a few of the future career paths that might lay before you.

  • Imagine/Design and build piloted or autonomous craft for land, air, sea, and space
  • Develop entirely new devices including satellites , robots, micro-scale measurement and monitoring platforms
  • Develop control and planning systems for robots, automated machinery and fleets of devices
  • Join the exciting world of modern engineering where the power of smart technology is harnessed and focused to improve the human condition

Companies Hiring Aerospace & Mechanical Engineers

  • Aerospace Corporation
  • AeroVironment
  • Aerotek
  • Boeing
  • Honeywell
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Lockheed Martin
  • NASA
  • Scaled Composites
  • SpaceX
  • US National Labs (Livermore, Sandia)
  • Northrop Grumman
  • US Government Agencies
  • Virgin Galactic
  • And Many More!

 Featured Podcast Episodes

Viterbi Voices: The Podcast is your chance to hear stories about research, classes, student life, and more directly from our faculty, students, and other members of our engineering community.  Below are featured episodes highlighting Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering as a discipline.

Featured Student Organizations

Here are just a few student organizations that Aerospace and Mechanical Engineers tend to join at USC:

AeroDesign Team: On this design team, students design, build, and fly radio-controlled airplanes for a yearly competition against other universities. Every week, the team meets to discuss their design and ADT has access to their very own fabrication lab that they are happy to put you to work in! Last year they won the AIAA Design, Build, Fly Competition.

USC Racing: SC Racing is is the USC chapter of Formula SAE. They design, construct, test, and race high performance autocross racecars. Each year they compete against other universities from across the world, where they must also present a business case for their car to a panel of industry judges along with the highly anticipated race itself!

Don’t Just Take Our Word for It

Find out what the faculty and students have to say

Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering Faculty Spotlight

Meet Dr. Spedding, the Chair of the Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering Department.  Dr. Spedding has a background in zoology, and has an interest in utilizing how animals move to improve our own technologies.  His research focuses on improved airplane design and he teaches undergraduate classes including the introduction to aerospace class, mechoptronics, and senior design. Check out his video made by the Viterbi Student Ambassadors!

#ViterbiClass: Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering at USC

Meet a few students and learn about Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering here at USC!

Aarya Suryavanshi

Mechanical Engineering, '19

She's studying Mechanical Engineering and has done research on sustainable start-ups in Berlin, Germany and is conducting research at the University of Minnesota this summer!

Ramiro Mendoza-Axle

Aerospace Engineering, '19

He's studying Aerospace Engineering while also taking classes toward an M.S. in Astronautical Engineering. He has been interning at Honeybee Robotics in Pasadena, CA during the school year and will continue throughout the summer!

Have questions? Ask a Viterbi Admission staff member!