UCF, a top-tier public research university renowned for driving innovation and delivering broad-based prosperity, continues to distinguish itself in the latest U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate Schools rankings. In these influential 2023-24 rankings, nine College of Engineering and Computer Science graduate programs rank in the top 75 in the nation in their respective fields. This includes the mechanical and aerospace engineering programs, both of which offer master’s and doctoral degrees.
“The high quality and national significance of aerospace engineering research at UCF, our successful alumni working in leadership roles within the aerospace industry, and UCF’s prominence as the top workforce supplier to the nation’s aerospace and defense industry all contribute to UCF’s growing international reputation,” says Yoav Peles, the chair of the UCF Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.
Aerospace engineering climbed five spots to No. 50 while mechanical engineering climbed four spots to No. 71. Out of public universities, aerospace engineering ranks at No. 34 while mechanical engineering ranks at No. 43. Biomedical engineering was ranked for the time at No. 112 and lands at No. 73 out of public universities. The debut of the biomedical engineering program on the U.S. News and World Report list comes after the launch of the UCF doctoral degree this past fall.
New Degree, New Ranking
The Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering supports the demand for a workforce with advanced biomedical engineering knowledge and skills. Students can tailor the program to meet their interests, and they can enter the program with a master’s degree or a bachelor’s degree. So far, the program already has one graduate; Jinfeng Li, ‘19MS, ‘22PhD, who studied under Associate Professor Helen Huang.
“Compared to other programs, the biomedical engineering Ph.D. program is a highly interdisciplinary program that trains students to solve biomedical problems with engineering approaches,” Li says. “This program has many faculty members who are rising stars, accompanied with outstanding resources from the main campus and Lake Nona, and offers diverse career opportunities.”
Research That's Out of This World
It’s no surprise that the aerospace engineering program climbed five spots when faculty and students regularly research and invent groundbreaking methods for traveling the country, and even space.
For instance, Kareem Ahmed, an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, studies hypersonic speeds and advanced propulsion. His research, with the help of graduate students, explores aircraft-engine technology that’s capable of propelling travelers from New York to London in less than 30 minutes. The technology has big implications for space travel, too, which is why Ahmed leads more than $5.5 million worth of research grants from organizations like NASA, Aerojet Rocketdyne, General Electric and Siemens.
“UCF is a dynamic university with an energetic student population. It’s a central hub of innovation that’s forward-thinking and rapidly growing, and that drives my presence here,” Ahmed says.
UCF’s strength in aerospace stretches even further, with the university being the first in the country to have a lab that bears the name of the late, world-renowned physicist, Stephen W. Hawking. He chose UCF for this honor because of its passion for science and building the next generation of students and researchers who, beginning in UCF’s lab, will advance microgravity research, explore safe means for space travel, and research how to inhabit Mars and the moon.
UCF has long been recognized as the top supplier of aerospace and defense talent, according to Aviation Week Network. UCF graduates make up 29% of employees at Kennedy Space Center. These graduates often make their first connection to the NASA space center through internship and research experiences while at the university.
Five other engineering programs also rank in the top 75:
- Industrial Engineering – No. 41
- Materials Engineering – No. 51
- Computer Engineering – No. 57
- Electrical Engineering – No. 58
- Environmental Engineering – No. 68
“These rankings highlight UCF’s longstanding commitment to student success and academic excellence,” says President Alexander N. Cartwright. “Our outstanding graduate programs provide students with opportunities to earn high-quality advanced degrees in vital and impactful fields of study that improve the quality of life for our region and have a positive impact on society.”