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Mechanical engineering is truly one of the broadest engineering disciplines, serving as the foundation for many of the other engineering fields of study. During my first two years at USC, I was a pre-med student, then an environmental engineering major, then a civil engineering major, and FINALLY a mechanical engineering student. As someone who was never ready to commit to one specific field, I’ve been able to utilize the mechanical engineering major to explore all of my different interests.

At its core, the mechanical engineering major prepares students to execute the design process: design, build, test, and rebuild. Core classes like statics (AME 201), dynamics (AME 301), fluid dynamics (AME 309), linear control systems (AME 451), and heat transfer (AME 331) prepare students to analyze design challenges that exist in workplaces like the automotive and aerospace industry.

Mechanical Engineering is Designing

The design process begins with designing a part to fit a specific requirement. The computer-aided design course at USC (AME 308) teaches students how to utilize the 3D design environment to simulate assemblies as well as conducting stress analyzes on parts prior to manufacturing. One of my favorite design classes, additive manufacturing (AME 554), teaches students the different 3D printing techniques and applications where each approach is most effective. At the end of the course, I designed my own 3D part using a scanning software demonstrated in the class to scan my face and print my face using fused deposition modeling.




Mechanical Engineering is Building

Once the part has been designed, it is ready to be built using the manufacturing technique most appropriate. Through my mechanical engineering courses at USC, I learned how to properly size and orient fasteners as well as tolerancing for other manufacturing techniques like CNC machining or welding. Outside of classes, I am involved with SC Electric, the Formula Electric team where we design and build an electric car. Through the team, I’ve learned about TIG welding both steel and aluminum to build both the frame and the battery pack for the car.




Mechanical Engineering is Testing

After a part has been designed, built, and sometimes even rebuilt, parts can be tested to evaluate certain parameters. In Mechoptronics (AME-341b), students learn how to use strain gauges, thermocouples, and the wind tunnel as devices for testing. For my senior design project, I investigated how dimples (think like dimples on a golf ball) can be utilized to reduce drag on a commercial automobile. In order to test different heights and diameters, the wind tunnel was used to determine the coefficient of drag.




Mechanical Engineering is Breaking!

Sometimes the best way to learn is by taking things apart! Over the summer, I had the opportunity to take apart, and rebuild a pneumatic system with another intern at General Motors. By taking the system apart, I was able to develop a deeper understanding for how each component worked and how different plumbing configurations would be utilized in different scenarios.




Mechanical Engineering is My Best Friend

Although this last point has little to do with the technical side of mechanical engineering, I think it is my favorite thing/person in the major. Each mechanical engineering cohort forms a tight bond through both classes and extensive group projects. The design process is easier with more engineers working together to solve a problem.  One of my favorite team members, is my roommate Amanda who I met through the major. Together we have been able to tackle problems in our classes that I would have struggled solving alone!

Grace Sampson

MAJOR: Mechanical Engineering YEAR: Class of 2024 HOMETOWN: Blue Grass, Iowa PRONOUNS: she/her/hers INSTA: @grace.sampson I am currently involved in the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), which is a student organization that focuses on social, profession, and community driven events to support women in STEM fields. I am also involved with the Formula Electric team as the Powertrain lead where I help with the design and manufacturing of the vehicle's battery. I also work as a TA for our mechanical engineering measurement and instrumentation class. Outside of engineering, I am involved in the Ski and Snowboard Team which has a permanent residence in Mammoth for the winter season.