Mechanical Engineering: Controls

Get Superior Engineering Training

The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Master of Science: Mechanical Engineering in Controls degree program will prepare you to advance your career in the growing field of drive, converter control and sensor integration.

The program includes courses in both mechanical engineering and electrical and computer engineering, providing you with the flexibility to select a program that meets your particular educational and professional needs. You will learn from internationally known experts who are at the center of cutting-edge research in mechanical engineering.

An Internationally Recognized Program

The Department of Mechanical Engineering is an internationally known program and one of the largest departments in the College of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, enrolling more than 200 graduate students from all over the world in MS and PhD programs.

Learn from widely recognized authorities in the field and gain the skills to advance within your organization and expand your career in new directions.

Chad Licht

Integrate Controls Theory and Practice

The diversity of courses in both mechanical engineering and electrical and computer engineering gives you the flexibility to select an area that meets your particular educational and professional objectives.

As a mechanical engineering student, you will engage in a series of assignments and activities designed to stimulate you intellectually and make meaningful connections between controls theory and practice.

UW-Madison’s award-winning distance learning design allows you to learn when it’s most convenient to you, without the need to be on campus.

Apply Your Skills in Real Contexts

The Wisconsin Electric Machines and Power Electronics Consortium (WEMPEC) provides you with learning and research opportunities sponsored by faculty and companies with an interest in electric machines and power electronics.

The three-week, on campus lab course in Mechanical Engineering consolidates the knowledge you acquire at the graduate level, while providing a real-world context for the application of your skills.



Consistently ranked in the Top 10 Online Engineering Graduate Programs

Ranked No.5 Online Engineering Graduate Programs for Veterans

Success Stories

Chad Licht


The distance-learning design of this program allows you to learn off campus at times convenient to your full-time work schedule. You will follow along with on-campus classes via pre-recorded lectures, email exchange of assignments, email communication with instructors, and proctored tests taken at your place of employment.


This online Mechanical Engineering graduate program focuses on drive and converter control and sensor integration. As a mechanical engineering student, you will be part of a stimulating learning community of highly motivated students, energetic educators, creative researchers, and a dedicated staff.

You will learn from internationally known professors who conduct in-depth research as well as teach the principles of engineering.

Degree Requirements

The University of Wisconsin’s online Master of Science: Mechanical Engineering program requires 30 credits, earned by completing the courses listed.


Learn from internationally respected experts who are at the center of cutting-edge research in mechanical engineering, including faculty from the Wisconsin Electric Machines and Power Electronics Consortium (WEMPEC).

WEMPEC is a UW–Madison technology focus center sponsored by companies holding an interest in electric machines and power electronics. The WEMPEC faculty have established a comprehensive curriculum in the electrical machines and power electronics field that serves students at the university as well as engineers already established in the industry.

Curriculum in the program is designed to teach students about drive, converter control and sensor integration. Courses are focused on providing students with real-life examples that they can apply in their daily work and re-energize them as they advance their careers.

Required Courses

Automatic Controls
This course provides a comprehensive understanding of single input, single output (SISO) continuous closed-loop control system analysis and design. Discrete (computer) control also is introduced including analysis in the z domain.
3 Credits
Computer Control of Machines and Processes
Gain a comprehensive introduction to digital computer control theory and application, as well as sequential logic control. An increasing demand for engineers with automatic control background has been accelerated by the proliferation of computer control applications. The design of industrial processes and machines must be influenced by engineers with computer control background and experience to effectively apply computer control technology.
3 Credits
Experimental Mechanics
Experimental methods for design and analysis of mechanical components, structures and materials. Electrically and optically recorded stress, strain and deformation data; computer aquisition/reduction/presentat techniques; applications to static and transient events, sensors, transducer design, NDT, fracture and residual stresses.
3 Credits
Automatic Controls Lab
Control theory is reduced to engineering practice through the analysis and design of actual systems in the laboratory. Experiments are conducted with modern servo systems using both analog and digital control. Systems identification and modern controls design are applied to motion and torque control.
3 Credits
Physics-Based Modeling for Computer Control
Develop a thorough understanding of discrete time modeling, computer control design principles, and alternative control through practical design mini-projects. This course will cover physical and discrete system modeling of cross-coupled systems, system response calculations, deadbeat and finite settling step and root locus design methods, command feedforward tracking methods, multi-rate system modeling, and much more.
3 Credits
Independent Study
None provided.
1 Credit
Advanced Robotics
This course is an in-depth study of advanced robotics modeling and control. Topics include kinematics, motion planning, dynamics and control of serial chain robotic manipulators. Concepts are explored through a combination of theoretical and numerical modeling techniques.
3 Credits
Dynamics of Controlled Systems
Using non-linear, multivariable control design methods to provide insight into meeting both command-driven and disturbance-driven system requirements, this course will apply physics-based principles to control system design. This course will cover topics such as multivariable control design and observer-based estimation methodologies and will emphasize application to multi-axis precision motion control, motor drive and flux control, and power electronics current and voltage dynamics.
3 Credits
Advanced Computer Control of Machines and Processes
In this course you will gain a thorough understanding of continuous and discrete control system analysis and design using classical and modern approaches. You will become familiar with the use of computational tools in MATLAB through a variety of application examples.
3 Credits
Masters Research and Thesis
This course is intended for students who work on a Master's thesis or project under the supervision of a faculty member.


Faculty in the controls program are experts in their field and work to provide students with an engaging educational experience that is convenient and accessible no matter where they are located, and one that fits into a full-time work schedule.

Robert D. Lorenz, PhD

Lorenz received BS., MS., and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the M.B.A. degree from the University of Rochester, NY. He did his MS thesis research at the Tech. Univ. of Aachen, Germany and did his junior year courses in Mexico at the Monterrey Institute of Technology. Since 1984, he has been on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he is the Mead Witter Foundation Consolidated Papers Professor of Controls Engineering in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. He is Co-Director of the Wisconsin Electric Machines and Power Electronics Consortium (WEMPEC). Prior to joining the university, he worked in industry on high performance drives and synchronized motion control. He has authored over 300 published technical papers and is the holder of 24 patents with nine more pending. He has won 32 IEEE prize paper awards on power electronics, drives, self-sensing, current regulators, motion control, etc. Lorenz is a Life-Fellow of the IEEE, was IEEE Division II Director for 2005/2006, was IEEE Industry Applications Society (IAS) President for 2001, a Distinguished Lecturer of the IEEE IAS for 2000/2001. He received the 2003 IEEE IAS Outstanding Achievement Award, 2006 EPE PEMC Outstanding Achievement Award, 2011 IEEE IAS Distinguished Service Award, 2014 IEEE Richard H. Kaufman Technical Field Award, and 2014 EPE Outstanding Achievement Award.

Michael R. Zinn, PhD

Zinn is an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research interests are broadly directed at understanding and overcoming the design and control challenges of complex electro-mechanical systems with a primary focus on human-centered robotics. Zinn teaches Advanced Robotics, Dynamic Systems, and Control Systems, among other courses. He also directs graduate student research and advanced independent study. Prior to joining UW-Madison, he was Director of Systems and Controls Engineering at Hansen Medical where he helped to develop the world’s first commercially available minimally invasive flexible surgical robotic system.  He also has more than 10 years of electro-mechanical system design and manufacturing experience in aerospace and high-technology industries. Zinn received his BS and MS from MIT and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University.

Philip O'Leary, PhD, PE

Phil O'Leary

Department Chair
O'Leary directs the technical outreach program for the College of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. In this capacity he oversees the delivery of more than 400 continuing education courses each year in a wide range of technical specialties. The program, which serves a national audience, delivers training at multiple locations throughout the US and also over the Internet. His area of professional interest is solid waste management, hazardous waste control, groundwater quality protection, and related environmental topics. His landfill design seminar has been attended by thousands of people who are now responsible for developing, permitting and operating landfills throughout the US and Canada. O'Leary also has extensive international waste management experience. He has been Department Chairman since July 1995. His engineering and land resources degrees are from the University of Wisconsin–Madison

Wayne P. Pferdehirt, MS, PE

Wayne Pferdehirt

Online Degree Director
Pferdehirt is the director of distance degree programs for the College of Engineering and director of the Master of Engineering Management program at UW-Madison. He also co-teaches the Master of Engineering Management program's Technical Project Management and Foundations of Engineering Leadership courses. Prior to joining UW-Madison, Pferdehirt directed the Midwest solid waste consulting services of an international environmental consulting firm and led energy conservation research projects for Argonne National Laboratory. He has a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University and a master’s degree in civil engineering with an emphasis in regional planning from Northwestern University. He is a frequent speaker and author on continuing education for engineers, and is a member of the College of Engineering’s Education Innovation Committee.

Daryl Haessig, MA

Graduate Program Coordinator
Haessig serves as the graduate programs coordinator for students in online programs in the Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Civil & Environmental Engineering Departments in the College of Engineering. She manages the admissions and advising for graduate students in these departments, and serves as a resource for students in working with offices across the university, the enrollment process, and graduation requirements. Haessig works closely with students to ensure they meet department course requirements, and acts as an advocate for student needs in the Departments, College of Engineering and larger campus community.  She also collaborates with program directors, faculty and staff on all student related matters.

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements for the Master of Science: Mechanical Engineering program are listed below.

Exceptions to standard admission requirements are considered by the admissions committee on an individual basis.

  • A BS degree from a program accredited by the ABET or the equivalent.*
  • A minimum undergraduate grade-point average (GPA) of 3.00 on the equivalent of the last 60 semester hours (approximately two years of work) or a master’s degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00. Applicants from an international institution must have a strong academic performance comparable to a 3.00 for an undergraduate or master’s degree. All GPAs are based on a 4.00 scale. We use your institution’s grading scale; do not convert your grades to a 4.00 scale.
  • Applicants whose native language is not English must provide scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The minimum acceptable score on the TOEFL is 580 on the written version, 243 on the computer version, or 92 on the Internet version.
  • International applicants must have a degree comparable to an approved U.S. bachelor’s degree. 

We do not require applicants to submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). 

*Equivalency to an ABET accredited program: Applicants who do not hold a bachelor’s degree from an ABET accredited program may also qualify for admission to the program. Such applicants must have a BS in science, technology, or a related field with sufficient coursework and professional experience to demonstrate proficiency in engineering practice OR at least 16 credits of math and science coursework. Registration as a professional engineer by examination, if achieved, should be documented to support your application. 

Application Overview

The admissions process has been designed to be easy and straightforward for applicants while also providing the admissions committee adequate information to conduct a holistic review of your likelihood of success in the program. Decisions are based on your academic and professional background, and the fit between your personal and career objectives and those of the program.

To start the process, please read the admission requirements to determine your eligibility. If you have questions about your eligibility, please request an eligibility review by e-mailing Daryl Haessig at This e-mail should include a copy of your current resume and informal transcripts.

Applications are reviewed in the order received. Admission is competitive and selective. Therefore, applicants are encouraged to submit application materials prior to the early consideration deadlineApplications received before the regular consideration deadline will be guaranteed review. Applications received during the late consideration period will be reviewed pending availability and only for applicants that surpass all stated admission requirements.

Applications are accepted for admission during the Fall term.

Application Cycle Fall
Early Deadline March 1
Regular Deadline June 1
Late Consideration July 1

Steps to Apply Now 

Email the admissions committee chair and state your intent to apply and to which program. Attach your current resume or CV to your Intent to Apply email.

Your resume/CV should include at least:

  • Educational history (including GPA, awards and honors received).
  • Professional work experience (including specific details on your engineering experience, technical training, and responsibilities).
  • Listing of professional association memberships, advanced training (such as a PE license) and other noteworthy, personal- or engineering-related details.
 In the application be sure to:
  • Upload a pdf version of your current resume/CV
  • Upload a pdf version of your “Reasons for Graduate Study” essay
  • Upload a pdf version of your transcripts
  • Enter contact information for at least three professional recommendations, including at least one from a direct supervisor
  • Important: Complete the application by submitting the application fee. Applications submitted without paying the fee cannot be reviewed and will not be acted on.

Arrange to have two (2) copies of your official transcripts sent directly from your previous educational institutions to the Department of Engineering Professional Development. Transcripts should be sent directly by the educational institution to the CoE Online Admissions Office.

We will accept transcripts via any delivery method options (including pdf) offered by the educational institutions you have previously attended. However, transcripts issued to students are not sufficient for admission to the Graduate School.

To avoid processing delays, have your transcripts sent directly to:

CoE Online Admissions Office
Attn: Daryl Haessig
432 N. Lake Street, Room 701
Madison, WI  53706

(For pdf’s, use the following email address:

After all of your application materials have been received, the admissions committee chair will schedule a phone interview with you. Once completed, your application will be presented to the Admissions Committee for evaluation at the next scheduled meeting. 

Admission decisions are made on applications in the order received. The Admissions committee will make one of the following decisions:

  • Recommend admission to the UW-Madison Graduate School
  • Defer consideration until the next scheduled meeting 
  • Request additional information before evaluating further 
  • Decline further consideration of your application

After a decision has been made on your application, the admissions committee chair will contact you by email to inform you of the decision and to schedule a time to discuss the decision and your next steps.

The admissions committee provides admission recommendations to the Graduate School. The Graduate School is the formal admitting office for graduate students and retains ultimate authority on all admissions decisions.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Tuition Costs

$1,600 per credit (based on 2015-16 tuition rates), payable at the beginning of each semester.

Tuition Includes
  • Technology costs for Internet course delivery
  • Library use
Total Tuition

Total tuition for this program is $48,000* for students entering in Summer 2015.

*This total does not include travel and other expenses associated with the three-week summer on-campus lab courses, textbooks, or course software. Software required for courses is typically available in educational versions at substantial discounts.


Federal Loans

Students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents are eligible to receive some level of funding through the federal direct loan program. These loans are available to qualified graduate students who are taking at least four credits during the Fall and Spring semesters, and two credits during Summer. Private loans are also available. Learn more about financial aid at

Employer Support

Many students receive some financial support from their employers. Often, students find it beneficial to sit down with their employer and discuss how this program applies to their current and future responsibilities. Other key points to discuss include how participation will not interrupt your work schedule.

The Master of Science: Mechanical Engineering is committed to delivering the highest quality and best value in engineering education. Your organization will immediately benefit as your employees apply new strategies and tools, ultimately improving real projects and processes.

Through participation in this program your employees will be able to: 

Attend courses with peers from other top employers and gain knowledge as you work together
• Tailor coursework to apply to your specific industry 

No Interruption to Employees’ Availability 

This program is designed for full-time, working professionals. The format enables your employees to pursue world-class graduate engineering studies without interruption to work schedule or hindering availability for travel. Students continue their studies from anywhere in the world they can connect to the Internet. 

Proven Program from a Top-Ranked University 

The UW–Madison degree your employee will earn via distance learning has the same high-quality standards and academic status as a degree earned on-campus. The only difference is that UW’s online Mechanical Engineering graduate program is conveniently delivered online for working professionals.

Course Dashboard

The course dashboard is your community and support site, as well as where you will find all of your current and past courses.


The MyWisc portal is your home for searching and registering for classes, looking at your tuition bill and financial aid, updating your profile information, and checking your email and calendar.


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Refer Colleagues

Do you know somebody who could benefit from our educational offerings? Refer your network to us at and help us grow the Badger family.

Tell Us About Your Achievements

Nothing makes us prouder than hearing about your personal and professional achievements. We love to get the word out about the great work Badgers do in their organizations and communities. Tell us about your career advancements here and let us recognize the impact you’re making! Use social media to post updates about life events and accomplishments and view notes posted by classmates and fellow alumni.


Like the EPD Facebook page to see photos, news, and upcoming events.


Stay up to the moment on related news by following our Twitter account

Moving? Changing your last name? 

Keep your info up-to-date. Contact with any updates so you don’t miss out any chances to grow your career network and stay in touch with UW-Madison. 

Refer Colleagues

Do you know somebody who could benefit from our educational offerings? Refer your network to us at and help us grow the Badger family.

Tell Us About Your Achievements

Nothing makes us prouder than hearing about your personal and professional achievements. We love to get the word out about the great work Badgers do in their organizations and communities. Tell us about your career advancements here and let us recognize the impact you’re making! Use social media to post updates about life events and accomplishments and view notes posted by classmates and fellow alumni.

Contact Us

Have questions?

Contact Us

Receive a digital information packet or contact admissions.