Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Prospective Students

Mech 2 has been carefully designed to create a unified approach to the second year program. Students don’t struggle over disconnected assignments, midterms and material. The integration of material in Mech 2 not only provides communication between the instructors, but gives students a better grasp of how everything they learn works together. Academic theory is reinforced with practicum and project courses, producing capable and well rounded engineers.

We believe that the traditional curriculum is not an optimal way to educate all students and that many students will benefit from the unified approach of MECH 2. The courses in MECH 2 are carefully coordinated between all of the instructors and professors to provide close integration of all of the material delivered. In order to do this, a non-standard approach to class schedules is taken. The schedule can sometimes change weekly, making the schedule generated by the UBC Student Services Centre look confusing. Don’t worry: we’ll provide the class with a custom schedule so they know exactly where to be.

Not only do you learn theory in a classroom environment, but you gain hands on experience. MECH 220 is a month long practicum, which teaches fundamentals in drafting, CAD, electronics (soldering, working with printed circuit boards) and machining. You get to build your own maglev device. MECH 221 ties in theory on dynamics, materials, electronics, mathematics, and solid mechanics which you use in one of your term projects. MECH 222 is for theory on thermodynamics, fluid mechanics and provides mathematical background to support it. MECH 223 gives you hands on experience taking theory from MECH 221 and 222 and applying those in two separate projects. You’ll get to learn project and time management skills, team building skills, and how to take a project from start to finish. Past MECH 223 projects include servo-actuated automated miniature trains, pneumatic hovercrafts, regenerative braking vehicles and more!

The most important advice: “Follow your heart.” All UBC engineering departments offer excellent educational programs; your primary choice should be to join the department that most closely fits your personal interests and aspirations. That way, you will be most successful and happy. Should your interests be in Mechanical Engineering, then welcome, please apply to join our committed group of students and faculty. We promise to do our best to give you an excellent learning experience. The introduction of MECH 2 is just one of several steps in our ongoing endeavors to advance our undergraduate program. For your part, we require that you work hard and that you learn and experience what it takes to become a skillful and ethical Mechanical Engineer. MECH is one of the engineering departments in highest demand at UBC. It is our objective to continue to enhance our programs and teaching to make MECH even better.

There are two routes by which you can join the MECH Department: GPA-based admission and broad-based admission. Like other programs, GPA-based admission is used to fill the majority of spaces in MECH. The Department also understands that marks do not fully indicate a person, and so there is an additional Broad-based admission procedure. It is designed for students who fall somewhat below the GPA cut-off but are able to demonstrate a strong potential to succeed in MECH. Applicants are evaluated based on all-around ability, achievements, and interest in mechanical engineering (grades are still a factor). There are typically a number of places reserved for broad-based admission. Broad-based applications are based on the optional essay on your second year placement form. Note that you may be contacted by email, so please keep your SSC email address up to date.

The competitive average to enter mechanical engineering changes from year to year. We have a fixed number of spaces, and will fill them with the strongest applicants. Generally, you should be aiming for a GPA of 80% or higher to present a strong application, but every year is unique.

MECH 2 is a challenging program, but don’t let that stop you from applying! It may be challenging, but it is greatly rewarding. It’s fun, you make lots of friends, get to design and build cool projects and it prepares you for the rest of you undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering.

Students entering second year Mechanical Engineering are automatically enrolled in the MECH 2 program. There is no separate application required.

First, contact the Student Services Office and identify yourself and the course(s) you are missing. Depending on the course(s) you're missing, it may be possible to make it up in third year. If you are missing a core prerequisite(s) such as PHYS 170, we generally recommend that you take an extra year to complete those courses before starting MECH 2. While completing the missing prerequisite course(s), you may be able to complete some of the complementary studies courses that would normally be taken in senior years. For complete information, please see the prerequisite requirements.

Starting MECH 2

We strongly encourage students to come to MECH 2 with a firm understanding of the material covered in high school and first year. Physics and math are the two most important areas and are worth reviewing over the summer. We have prepared a list of study resources beyond your grade 12 and first year notes for incoming students to use to ensure they are ready to learn at the start of MECH 2.

Since MECH 2 classes begin one week before the official start of Term 1 at UBC you need to make special arrangements with UBC Housing for early arrival. Please refer to the UBC Housing website for complete information.

  • The machining portion of MECH 220 requires personal protective equipment. In particular, you will need steel-toed boots and safety glasses when working in the Machine Shop.  Safety glasses are also required while using the Instrumentation Lab. You can purchase these items at local retailers, such as Marks Work Warehouse or most department stores.
  • Please ensure you have a valid email address entered on the UBC system. To do this, log on to the UBC Student Services Website and then select “Email Change” under the Personal Information section on the left menu. Some important MECH 2 broadcast messages will be sent by email so you should check your email regularly.
    Important announcements will also be posted under announcements on this site.
  • Please ensure you have a valid Campus-Wide Login (CWL). Canvas is used extensively in MECH 2 and you will need your CWL to access Canvas. For further information about setting up your CWL, please see the CWL Site.

MECH 2 classes start the Monday before Labour Day, just over a week before most UBC classes. Please review the First Day FAQ for details on what to expect and how to prepare.

Day 1 activities typically begin at 9am. The detailed schedule (including locations) is distributed to incoming Mech 2 students in August.

Yes! We will hit the ground running. MECH 2 instruction begins on the first day and you will also receive important information about MECH 2 as well as what you will be doing in your MECH 220 project. There will also be a Review Quiz (see below) that afternoon. Finally, the first day will be a chance to meet your classmates as well as the MECH 2 team of instructors and TAs.

In the first four weeks, you will complete four workshop-style modules on practical topics in engineering. You will have four or five days to complete your first module so missing the first day will set you back at least 20% compared to your classmates and in some cases you may not even be permitted to begin your module (for example, without the safety training on the first day of the machine shop module, you will not be allowed to set foot on the shop floor).

The university timetabling system is not designed for a program like MECH 2 where classes and rooms change from week-to-week. You will be given a link to a custom schedule in the weeks prior to the start of classes.

The Review Quiz is a computer scored quiz covering material essential to success in MECH 2 and mechanical engineering. As the name suggests, the quiz is based on review material which you have already covered in first year engineering and high school. We have carefully developed the quiz with the purpose in mind of helping you identify your areas of strength as well as any areas that would benefit from review. On the days following the review quiz, we will provide review lectures and supplementary material in MECH 220 to help you work on any areas of deficiency and to ensure that you are ready when MECH 221 starts in late September. There is a second quiz on the review material on the last Friday of MECH 220; only the highest mark of the two quizzes will be recorded as part of your MECH 221 grade.

A detailed list of review topics, along with suggested readings and problems and a practice quiz, will be posted online soon on Canvas (in case you would like to get an early start on your review). You should have access to Canvas by mid-August, once the system administrators have set up the site. Until then, you may wish to review this list of study resources. Reviewing concepts and trying problems from your first year texts is also a good way to prepare. Keep in mind that these are just some of the avenues open to you. Ultimately, it is up to you to determine where your personal areas of weakness are and where you should be spending time in review.

The types of topics you can expect on the review quiz are:

    • Math: Sketching functions, derivatives, integrals, complex numbers, coordinate systems
    • Linear Algebra: vectors, matrices, dot products, cross products, planes and lines, coordinate transformations
    • Kinematics: free body diagrams, motion in Cartesian coordinates, motion in polar/cylindrical coordinates
    • Statics: free body diagrams, constraints, trusses, beam diagrams

The review quiz and review lectures take place during MECH 220 but they are in preparation for MECH 221. All students in MECH 221 must write at least one of the review quizzes during MECH 220 as the quiz mark counts towards the MECH 221 grade. Likewise, all students in MECH 221 are strongly encouraged to attend the review lectures during MECH 220, but attendance of these lectures is not compulsory.

For the first day, you will need to bring:

  • a pencil ("HB" or "#2" pencil is best – pen will not work with the computer scored quiz).
  • a Sharp EL-510 (any model with letters after the 510 is fine). This calculator is the only calculator allowed for Mech 2 quizzes and exams and should be available for approximately $20 from most office supply stores.

Options, Minors and Coop

Our Program Options

Mechanical Engineering at UBC Vancouver offers six Program Options allowing you to tailor your third and fourth year studies to your interests: Flex (non-specialized), Aerospace, Biomechanics & Medical Devices, Energy & Environment, Mechatronics, and Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering.

Selecting an Option

There are 2 possibilities for students to select the Option they want to pursue in third and fourth year:

  • Early Selection, prior to the end of first year Engineering, allows students to secure a spot in an Option before they make their final Second Year Placement application.
  • Regular Selection at the end of second year is the standard intake when Mechanical Engineering students choose the direction of their third and fourth year studies.

For more information about the application process for each option, please see Program Options page.

The Faculty of Applied Science offers Minors in Commerce, Entrepreneurship, Honours Mathematics, and Science. Minors are coordinated by Engineering Academic Services; please see their website for details.

To begin, Co-op is an excellent and very important program which you should join independent of the engineering department that you enter. Co-op involves a series of four- and eight-month paid work terms with engineering companies. Co-op gives you valuable practical engineering experience, it introduces you to the working world, it shows you work types that fit and do not fit with your personal preferences, and it also provides some useful income. The practical nature of Co-op directly complements the “hands-on” character of Mech 2. The first Co-op work term starts in the summer, after the end of MECH 2, so it does not interfere with your classes, and the Third and Fourth years of MECH are structured around the Co-op work terms. In a typical year, the majority of Mech 2 students enroll in Co-op. We strongly recommend that all MECH 2 students join Co-op.


The sample timetable shows a typical MECH 2 schedule. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday all have a similar structure. They start with tutorial sessions followed by two or three lecture periods. After lunch, there are some more tutorials followed by either a physical or computer lab. Depending on the tutorial group that you join, your timetable may differ in some details from the sample shown. Consequently, you will have some “free periods” during the times that other students are attending tutorials or doing labs.

To see all the different schedules for the different courses please see the standard timetables.

Occasionally, we get you out of the classroom on a field trip to explore industrial or academic topics. You may visit industrial facilities in the lower mainland to see real-world engineering applications, or explore academic concepts through experiential learning, such as going to a rock-climbing gym to investigate mechanics and dynamics.

Performance and Evaluation

MECH has a high admission requirement, so everyone accepted into the Department is expected not just to pass but also to excel. It occasionally happens that a student needs a bit more time to adjust to engineering studies and to get more experience of the engineering world. In such cases, their course marks may fall short of their potential capabilities. In order to pass a course in MECH 2, students must achieve a grade of at least 50% overall and in each of the subject areas in that course (there are between 3 and 5 subject areas in most MECH 2 courses). If a student exceeds 50% overall, but achieves less than 50% in a minority of the subject areas (up to 1 of 3, or 2 of 5), they will be allowed to continue with their studies, but will be required to take supplementary course(s) to rectify the deficiency

In each MECH 2 course, quizzes are typically held every week. Each quiz carries a low mark weight and thus the effects of having a “bad day” are minimized. There are also several final exams for each MECH 2 course; this gives students multiple chances to display what they know and means that they do not have to worry as much about one bad exam. A nice feature about the exams in MECH 2 is that they are well spaced because we are able to specifically schedule each one.