The University of Louisville J.B. Speed Scientific School was founded in 1924 with the assistance of a grant from the James Breckenridge Speed Foundation.
Along with Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, and Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering was one of four original departments in the school, which changed its name to the J.B. Speed School of Engineering in 2004. The initial ME academic program was a five-year Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree incorporating cooperative internships. This format was changed in 1972 when, following national trends, the five-year program was divided into a four-year B.S. degree with an optional one-year advanced degree dubbed a Masters of Engineering (M.Eng.) degree. This structure remains in place today, with the one-year M.Eng. degree only being available to student who complete the B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering at UofL. Both degree programs are accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) of ABET.
In 1986, the Department introduced a Masters of Science (M.S.) degree in Mechanical Engineering, which is offered through the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies (SIGS). Unlike the M.Eng. degree, the M.S. degree is not restricted to applicants who earned their B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from UofL. Finally, in 1998, the Department began offering a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in Mechanical Engineering program, again through SIGS.
Today, the ME Department is home to approximately 550 undergraduates, 76 M.Eng./M.S. students, and 28 Ph.D. students.