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Mechanical, Operations & Systems Engineering Research

Both private and public sectors have increasingly recognized the value of the systems approach to solve complex problems of the modern world—from climate change, to energy, to pandemics. Dartmouth engineers view the world as a series of interconnected systems, with various feedback loops enhancing or detracting from desired functions. Looking through this lens, researchers can zero in on bottlenecks and find solutions with maximum human-centered impact.

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A diversity of concentrations is offered with strong synergies between the biomedical, biological and chemical, electrical and computer, energy, and materials engineering research areas. Graduate engineering students are expected to propose a plan of study that supports their interests, potentially including distinctive intellectual paths unconstrained by disciplinary boundaries and enriched by interdisciplinary synergies.

The following research sub-areas have been strategically chosen to address key challenges and opportunities and are supported by leading faculty in their fields.

Cybersecurity & Information Systems

The ability to decipher patterns in digital behaviors has implications in areas as disparate as cybersecurity, stock-market fraud, and counterterrorism. For better or for worse, more and more of our behaviors are being tracked and collated. That information not only has obvious marketing potential, but also can tell us about the daily patterns of people in society, and how we might improve information systems and design solutions for today's interconnected digital world.

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Research Subfields

Artificial intelligence

Cloud computing and embedded systems

Computational social systems

Human thought and behavior

Network analysis and management

Platform economics and strategy

Robotic swarm control

Soft computing


Energy Systems & Infrastructure

Understanding cyber-physical energy systems and their integration is critical to improving sustainability and resilience in interdependent smart infrastructures. Dartmouth is active in research that supports the design, planning, and operations of large scale engineering systems involving energy, water, structures, transportation and industrial activities.

Electrical powerlines

Research Subfields

Industrial energy management

Energy storage and conversion devices

Logistics and transportation

Nanoscale energy transport

Smart power grids

Sustainable design

Thermoelectric management


Engineered Systems for Extreme & Changing Environments

Rapid biological, physical, chemical, and social changes in a variety of the world's regions are fundamentally altering climate, weather, and ecosystems with profound global impacts. Now is an unprecedented time to use new technologies to investigate previously inaccessible realms and form international partnerships. Recent research involves scientific traverses across Antarctica, expeditions in the Arctic, and ice coring in both polar regions.

Yeti robot

Research Subfields

Arctic ecosystem dynamics

Climate adaptation

High-resolution mapping

Sustainability, resilience, and reconfigurability

Terrain identification

Transport and dispersion of environmental contamination


Fluid Mechanics & Thermal Systems

The world is filled with engineering applications that make use of the principles of fluid mechanics and thermal systems—industrial and building energy efficiency, environmental turbulence and ecosystem dynamics, and climate change to name a few. Dartmouth researchers are engaged in analytical, computational and experimental investigations to solve a range of problems involving heat, mass and momentum transfer.

Summer sea ice

Research Subfields

Coupled mechanical and thermal phenomena

Environmental fluid mechanics

Sea ice geophysics

Snow and ice mechanics


Operations Analysis & Management

The behavior and performance of complex real-world systems is shaped by interactions between multiple decision-makers. Operations research at Dartmouth has applications in energy, transportation, education, healthcare, design and manufacturing, drawing from tools in optimization, human and machine learning, and platform strategies.

Operational analysis

Research Subfields

Design thinking

Human-centered design

Market economics

Product innovation and development

Supply chains


Systems Modeling & Optimization

Multi-component systems—such as communication networks, industrial processes, interacting teams of robots, and influences on human behavior—can produce unexpected emergent properties that make the overall system tough to model.

"Many of the systems we are building, the human user and social aspects of those systems are really critical. Being able to incorporate the human as part of the engineering system will be even more important as we move ahead.” —George Cybenko, Dorothy and Walter Gramm Professor of Engineering

Autonomous smart robots

Research Subfields

Autonomous robot teams

Cognitive decision processes

Healthcare analytics

Human-computer interaction

Market structure and performance

Software agent systems

Sound wave propagation