Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering

University of British Columbia - Faculty of Applied Science

Program Description

Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering

University of British Columbia - Faculty of Applied Science

The thesis-based Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Mechanical Engineering is an advanced research-based degree. The program offers students an opportunity to work at the highest level of research, under the supervision of a faculty member. Students complete their candidacy examination within 18 months and complete their doctoral dissertation research within three to four years. It is normal department practice to initially register students in the M.A.Sc. program, and to transfer them to the Ph.D. program upon completion of the M.A.Sc. (or earlier if recommended by the supervising faculty member).

Students taking their Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering can select one of four research areas: Design and Applied Mechanics, Mechatronics and Manufacturing, Thermofluids or Biomedical Engineering.*

*The Department of Applied Science also offers a full Biomedical Engineering (BMEG) program. Students in the BMEG program will achieve a degree in Biomedical Engineering.

What makes the program unique?

With eight Research Chairs and almost every research faculty member holding a least one NSERC grant, we have one of the most active research programs in Canada and consistently produce industry and academic leaders.

UBC is ranked in the World’s Top 40 Universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University Institute of Higher Education and our Mechanical Engineering professors are recognized nationally and inter­nationally as leaders in their fields.

We offer affordable, competitive tuition fees and extend a number of scholarships, awards, top-ups to external awards, entrance fellowships, Research Assistantships (RA's) and Teaching Assistantships (TA's) to our students.

Why UBC?


The department has one of the most active research programs in Canada. It is home to 9 Research Chairs and is a member of 12 Research Institutes and Centres. Our major research groups are in Biomedical Engineering, Design and Applied Mechanics, Mechatronics and Manufacturing, and Thermofluids.


We’re ranked in the World’s Top 40 Universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University Institute of Higher Education, and our professors are recognized nationally and internationally as leaders in their fields.


UBC offers a number of scholarships and top-ups to external awards. The Mechanical Engineering Department is also committed to providing funding to every accepted M.A.Sc. and Ph.D. student in the form of Research Assistantships or Top-Ups. Teaching Assistantships may also be available. Top new students are eligible for a Gartshore Graduate Entrance Fellowship, a one-year Fellowship worth up to $21,000.


We offer research-based M.A.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineer­ing, as well as professional M.Eng. and M.E.L. programs for those who would like to further their studies without pursuing research.


The gateway to the Pacific Rim, Vancouver, British Columbia is consistently ranked as the most livable city in North America (The Economist). The city has a mild climate, with average temperatures between 0°C and 22°C–hardly the frozen expanse of snow Canada is stereotypically known for. It’s easy to get here, too – we’re minutes away from YVR, a major international airport.


Vancouver’s mild climate leads to amazing recreation possibilities. Vancouver offers many bike routes, great water-based activities like kayaking and sailing, and skiing at the local mountains or Whistler (which is just a bus ride away). The campus itself is nestled at the edge of the city between the beach and Pacific Spirit Park, a forest boasting 54 kilometers of walking and cycling trails.


UBC and Vancouver offer a great mix of people from all over the world. This leads to a very accepting, inclusive community. A wide range of cultural and spiritual associa­tions are available if you would like to learn more about other cultures, or if you wish to stay connected to your own. Another bonus is the amazing food from all over the globe.


Our degrees are recognized worldwide, giving you great mobility in the world economy. Are you an International student hoping for Canadian work experience? No problem! Inter­national students are eligible for work permits during their studies and up to one year after graduation – and so are their spouses (including common-law partners).

Degree Requirements

Program completion requirement:

  • 33 credits of coursework, including the seminar (if applicable)

All Ph.D. students are required to register for the Thesis course, MECH 699, all year round (i.e. for both winter and summer terms). The seminar course is only mandatory for students who belong to the biomedical, applied mechanics and design, and mechatronics and manufacturing research groups in each winter term (no seminars are held over the summer). Seminar policies may vary from group to group.

Seminar and thesis courses

  • MECH 698 (Seminar)
  • MECH 699 (Thesis)

Students normally register in the full session section of the course (Term 1-2). The Term 1 only or Term 2 only section may be used by new students arriving at other than usual registration periods, or by students nearing completion of their studies.

Research Supervisors

This list shows faculty members with full supervisory privileges who are affiliated with this program. It is not a comprehensive list of all potential supervisors as faculty from other programs or faculty members without full supervisory privileges can request approvals to supervise graduate students in this program.

  • Altintas, Yusuf (Virtual Machining, Computer Control of Manufacturing Systems, CAD/CAM, CNC Design, High Speed Feed Drive Control, Real Time Interpolation and Trajectory Generation for Machine Tools, Adaptive Control, Sensor Fused Intelligent Machining, Metal Cutting Mechanics, Chatter Vibrations in Machining, Piezo -Actuator Based Precision Machining, High Speed Milling, Optimal Machining of Aerospace Parts, Dies and Molds, Automation, Precision Engineering, Electro Mechanical Systems, Modeling and Analysis of Machining Processes, Mechanics, dynamics and control of micro-machining operations)
  • Bacca, Mattia
  • Bushe, William Kendal (Clean Energy, Combustion, Turbulence, Numerical Simulation, Computational Fluid Dynamics, IC Engines andThermal Power Generation)
  • Chiao, Mu (MEMS, Micro Sensors, Micro Actuators, BioMEMS, Nanotechnology, Bioengineering, Electronic Packaging, Nanoscience, Energy sources for micro-electro-mechanical systems)
  • Cripton, Peter (Biomechanics, Injury, Spinal Cord Injury, Hip Fracture, Spine, Helmet, Skull Fracture, Bone Fracture, Head Impact, Neurotrauma, Orthopaedic Biomechanics, Injury Biomechanics, Neurotrauma (Spinal Cord and Brain Injury), Biomechanics of Hip Fracture, Injury Prevention)
  • Croft, Elizabeth (Robotics, human-robot interaction, mechatronics)
  • De Silva, Clarence Wilfred (Robotics)
  • Elfring, Gwynn (Theoretical Fluid Mechanics, Complex Fluids, Cell Biomechanics, Capillary Phenomena, Applied Mathematics )
  • Feng, Hsi-Yung (Computer-Aided Design (CAD), Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM), 3D Laser Scanning, Three Axis and Five Axis CNC Machining, 3D laser scanning, Scanning-derived geometric modeling)
  • Frigaard, Ian (Fluid mechanics (visco-plastic fluids))
  • Gadala, Mohamed (Mechanics and heat transfer, Crack Detection and Crack Propagation, Numerical Simulation of Controlled Cooling Process of Steel)
  • Grecov, Dana (Rheology, Rheometry, Non-Newtonian Fluid Mechanics, Computational Fluid Mechanics, Liquid Crystals, Biolubricants, Lubricants, Journal Bearings, Multi-Phase Flow, Synovial Joints, Synovial Fluid, Arthritis, Liquid crystals and nanomaterials, Biofluid Mechanics)
  • Green, Sheldon (Pulp and Paper, Aerodynamics, Liquid Sprays, Papermaking, Biomechanics, Building Ventilation, Fluid Mechanics)
  • Hodgson, Antony (Bioengineering, Biomechanics, Medical or Surgical Robotics, Medical Engineering, Electoral Reform, Single Transferable Vote, STV, Citizens’ Assembly, Fair Voting )
  • Jelovica, Jasmin (Sandwich structures, Finite element analysis, Structural optimization, Welding and joining of metals, Ultimate, fatigue and impact strength)
  • Jin, Xiao Liang (Manufacturing Processes for Advanced Materials, Vibration Assisted Machining, Machining Mechanics and Dynamics, Material Characterization, Surface Integrity)
  • Kirchen, Patrick (Thermochemical Energy Conversion, Combustion, Internal Combustion Engines, Ion Transport Membranes, Emissions, Fuel Injection )
  • Ma, Hongshen (Microfluidics; Instrumentation; Cell Sorting; Cell Biomechanics; Circulating Tumor Cells; Malaria and Red Blood Cell Deformability; Single Cell Technologies; Cell Migration and Chemotaxis)
  • Merida-Donis, Walter (Clean energy, Electrochemical energy conversion, Thermodynamics, Low carbon fuels, Fuel cells and hydrogen)
  • Nagamune, Ryozo (Robust Control, System Identification, Optimization, Hard Disk Drives Servo, Automotive Engine Control, Machine Tool Servo Control, Analytic Interpolation, Spectral Estimation, Wind Turbine Control, Wind turbine control, Automotive engine control, Hard disk drive track-following control)
  • Ollivier-Gooch, Carl (Algorithm Development for Computational Fluid Dynamics, Error and Stability Analysis for Unstructured Mesh Methods, Unstructured Mesh Generation, Applied Aerodynamics)
  • Olson, James (Application of Physics and Fluid Mechanics to Problems Associated with the Pulp and Paper Industry, Mechanical Energy Reduction in Mechanical Pulping)
  • Oxland, Thomas (Spinal Cord Injury, Aging Spine, Orthopaedic Implants)
  • Phani, Srikantha (Dynamics of multiscale materials, structures, and devices, Applied Mechanics, Micromechanics)
  • Ponga de la Torre, Mauricio (Spallation in Metals; Sub-linear scaling methods for calculating crystal defects using DFT; )

This list shows faculty members with full supervisory privileges who are affiliated with this program. It is not a comprehensive list of all potential supervisors as faculty from other programs or faculty members without full supervisory privileges can request approvals to supervise graduate students in this program.

  • Rogak, Steven (Aerosols (their properties, strategies to minimize their creation and reducing aerosol concentrations where people spend most of their time )
  • Rohling, Robert (Medical Imaging, Medical Information Systems, Robotics, Interventional Ultrasound, 3D Imaging, Spatial Compounding, Robotic System Calibration, Elastography, BioMEMS, Biomedical Engineering, Medical imaging and information systems, robotics, ultrasound imaging in 2D and 3D, biomedical technologies)
  • Sassani, Farrokh (Mechanical systems automation through re-design and computer control, manufacturing processes)
  • Schajer, Gary (Full-Field Optical Metrology, X-Ray CT Log Scanning, Industrial Residual Stress Measurements)
  • Stoeber, Boris (Microelectromechanical Systems, MEMS, Microfluidics, Sensor Technology, Biomedical Microdevices, Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS), Microflow Phenomena, Sensor technology, Integrated microsystems for biomedical applications and for environmental control)
  • Van der Loos, Hendrik (Rehabilitation Robotics, Human-Robot Interaction, Design for Safety, Design Methodology and Design Coaching, Roboethics)

Recent Doctoral Citations

  • Dr. Alireza Jalali
    "Dr. Jalali developed an efficient and accurate method to improve the simulation of high-speed turbulent flows in aerodynamics. This method, which is an alternative to more expensive experimental studies, can be utilized to analyze commercial transport aircraft and improve the design of more efficient future aircraft." (May 2017)
  • Dr. Mahkame Sharbatdar
    "Dr. Sharbatdar has developed a new error estimation method that can be used mainly for numerical aerodynamics applications. This novel method helps to design airplanes more efficiently and to predict the drag and lift forces on them more accurately." (May 2017)
  • Dr. Behrooz Yousefzadeh
    "Dr. Yousefzadeh studied how mechanical vibrations transmit through certain types of structures used in industries such as turbomachinery and aerospace. His research revealed the necessary conditions for a transmission mechanism to exist. He plans to expand and apply his knowledge and methodologies to design safer turbomachines in the future." (May 2017)
  • Dr. Hong Pak Tsui
    "Dr. Tsui developed simulation models for the combustion of natural gas, aimed at understanding the dynamics within the reacting process. The models allow for more cost-effective optimisations for engines, which would have a positive impact on issues related to global warming by promoting the sustainable use of fossil fuels." (May 2017)
  • Dr. Seyed Mohammad Miraskari
    "High-speed turbo-machines can suffer from self-induced instabilities as in the unstable operation of NASA's space shuttle engines during the space exploration race with the Soviet Union. Dr. Miraskari's research investigates such faults, proposes safe regions of operation, and offers prospective design modifications for high speed rotating machinery." (May 2017)

Sample Thesis Submissions

  • Hydrodynamics of the hydrocyclone flow field: effects of turbulence modelling, geometrical and design parameters
  • Estimation distribution algorithms based on extreme elitism and their application in engineering optimization problems
  • Application of machine health monitoring in design optimization of mechatronic systems
  • Learning image-based localization
  • Characterization of primary particle size variation and its influence on measurable properties of aerosol soot
  • Mechanics and dynamics of multi-point threading of thin-walled oil pipes
  • Negotiating with robots: meshing plans and resolving conflicts in human-robot collaboration
  • Identification of the fluid induced instability phenomenon in journal bearings
  • Path-invariant and time-optimal motion control for industrial robots
  • Wave transmission in finite dissipative nonlinear periodic structures
  • Controlled spreading of complex droplets
  • Turbulent premixed combustion simulation with Conditional Source-term Estimation and Linear-Eddy Model formulated PDF and SDR models
  • Error estimation and mesh adaptation paradigm for unstructured mesh finite volume methods
  • An adaptive higher-order unstructured finite volume solver for turbulent compressible flows
  • Long stroke magnetic levitation planar stages

Career Outcomes

87 students graduated between 2005 and 2013. Of these, career information was obtained for 78 alumni (based on research conducted between Feb-May 2016):


  • University of British Columbia (4)
  • King Saud University (2)
  • University of Saskatchewan (2)
  • University of Adelaide
  • UNIKA Atma Jaya
  • University of Ontario Institute of Technology
  • University of Tehran
  • Abu Dhabi University
  • University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
  • Ohio University


  • Pratt & Whitney Canada (3)
  • Coanda Research and Development Corporation (3)
  • Westport Innovations (3)
  • FPInnovations (2)
  • Candu Energy Inc. (2)
  • PARC Inc.
  • Paperra
  • Vanmok Innovative Engineering Solutions
  • WK Investment Network


  • Senior Mechanical Engineer (4)
  • Project Engineer (2)
  • Scientist (2)
  • Manager (2)
  • Senior Piping Engineer (2)
  • Research Engineer (2)
  • Principal Scientist
  • Research Scientist
  • Business Development Manager
  • Director


You may view the full report on career outcomes of UBC Ph.D. graduates on


These data represent historical employment information and do not guarantee future employment prospects for graduates of this program. They are for informational purposes only. Data were collected through either alumni surveys or internet research.


The graduates of the Ph.D. program find employment at academic institutions and in high-level research and development positions in industry and other institutions. Recent Ph.D. alumni have gone on to work as tenure-track professors in major Canadian and US universities. Others have been employed as research scientists, project managers and team leaders in high-tech startups or S&P 500 companies.




  • ibT Reading 22
  • ibT Writing 21
  • ibT Listening 22
  • ibT Speaking 21



  • IELTS Reading 6.0
  • IELTS Writing 6.0
  • IELTS Listening 6.0
  • IELTS Speaking 6.0


Highly recommended



Cost & Fees

  • International students: CAD $8,435.94 per year
  • Canadian students: CAD $4,801.80 per year

Eligibility for Financial Assistance

Normally from their thesis supervisors and may apply for Teaching Assistantships, graduate awards, and scholarships

Quick Facts

  • Degree: Doctor of Philosophy
  • Subject: Engineering
  • Mode of delivery: On campus
  • Registration options: Full-time
  • Specialization: Mechanical Engineering
  • Program Components: Dissertation
  • Faculty: Faculty of Applied Science
This school offers programs in:
  • English

Last updated February 14, 2018
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Jan. 2019
Sept. 2019
48 months
Full time
4,802 CAD
$4,801.80 Tuition per year for Canadian Citizens, Permanent Residents, Refugee, Diplomat; $8,435.94 Tuition per year for International students
Canada - Vancouver, British Columbia
Start date : Jan. 2019
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Start date : Sept. 2019
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Jan. 2019
Canada - Vancouver, British Columbia
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Sept. 2019
Canada - Vancouver, British Columbia
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info