No Man's Land

Enabling Robots to Go Where Humans Shouldn't

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When a wildfire strikes, teams of firefighters respond, often not knowing the exact location of the hottest spots or if people are trapped in the blaze. Too often, tragedy results. But Asst. Prof. Mac Schwager (ME) is working to change that.

He is developing technology that will enable groups of robots to work autonomously in teams to scout such dangerous areas, determine if people need help and, if so, where they are. The robots – whether in the air or on the ground – can gather and share information and relay it to human controllers who can determine how best to deploy responders safely.

The technology wouldn’t be limited to forest fires. Large-area problems like oil spills and agricultural pest infestations could also be attacked this way.

“Ultimately, the project seeks to alleviate the economic, societal and ecological damage caused by destructive environmental phenomena by laying the foundations of a new robotic technology,” said Schwager.

Mechanical Engineering

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What Is Mechanical Engineering?

To be a mechanical engineer, you need to be a bit of a know-it-all. Mechanical engineering is one of the largest and broadest engineering disciplines, encompassing the development of all types of mechanical systems. Mechanical engineers are experts in thermodynamics, heat transfer, structures and materials, fluid dynamics and advanced control systems. They use their knowledge to improve many aspects of our lives. In health care, they contribute to new surgical tools, imaging systems and prosthetic devices. In security, they design sensors that detect chemical threats and monitor the structural soundness of buildings and bridges. Mechanical engineers also help design and manufacture the computers, cell phones, microwave ovens, refrigerators, air conditioners and other devices that improve the quality of daily life.

Where Do Mechanical Engineers Work?

Our graduates take diverse career paths, gaining employment in a wide range of industries and in government. Engineers with bachelor’s degrees often work as members of a design team, as technical support or in quality control, while those with advanced degrees often move directly into lead design or research positions.

What our alumni are designing for their employers:

  • Full-scale biomedical devices
  • Noise-cancellation technology for sound systems
  • Parachutes used to drop combat supplies
  • Simulation systems for auto manufacturers
  • Components for naval vessels, aircraft engines, and wind turbines

Graduate Programs & Research Opportunities

Graduate students and faculty in Mechanical Engineering study and conduct research in a wide range of applied and basic areas in this fundamental engineering discipline, often working in interdisciplinary teams to address important engineering challenges. Graduate students join faculty weekly in a seminar series to network and learn from distinguished visitors. All students are assigned a faculty advisor who mentors them throughout their academic careers, and emerge ready for leadership in industry, government and academia. A few areas of research strength include:

  • Acoustics And Vibrations
  • Biomechanics and Biological Physics
  • Computational Science and Engineering
  • Dynamics, Robotics, Systems, and Controls
  • Thermofluid Sciences, Energy and Sustainability
  • Materials
  • MEMS and Nanosciences

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  • Con Edison
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Common alternatives to immediately taking a job in industry:

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  • Joining the military
  • Attending law or medical school

Why Study At BU?

Our Mechanical Engineering Department is a great size for fostering a real sense of community—and for getting personal attention from our distinguished faculty members. The undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 10:1, and our graduate students enjoy working in research groups of just three to six people. We offer access to state-of-the-art study and research facilities, and our graduates have a high placement rate in lucrative jobs and competitive graduate programs.

What Does BU Offer?

Visit the Department of Mechanical Engineering website for more information.