The Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Nigeria was founded in 1961 and thus is one of the premier Departments of Mechanical Engineering in the Nigerian University System. In its formative years, 1961 – 1967, the Michigan State University under USAID agreement, and the Dutch Technical Assistance provided the core academic and senior technical staff, and built and equipped a good workshop in 1964 for teaching workshop technology courses in fitting, machining, welding, etc. The first Nigerian senior academic staff joined the Department in 1964 and by the end of the 1966/67 academic year; the indigenous staff strength was five in number. The Department was closed down from 1967 to 1970 because of the Nigerian civil war and most of its infrastructure and equipment were destroyed.
Activities resumed in 1970 with a total of 4 senior academic staff, two of whom were from the Dutch Technical Assistance, and 3 senior technical staff. The Dutch presence ended in 1974, but the staff strength continued to grow and reached a peak of 24 academic staff in 1984, out of which more than half were expatriates. With the exit of the expatriates around 1985 because of the bad economic situation in the country, the University embarked on a vigorous campaign to recruit very high calibre academic staff with solid academic background and broad professional experience from research and consultancy. The current academic staff strength stands at 25 and almost all are COREN registered Engineers and are members of the Nigerian Society of Engineers while most of the senior technical staff are members of the appropriate professional bodies such as the ANIST.
The Department started with a first set of 13 students and today, the undergraduate student enrolment has stabilized at about 100 per class. To keep itself up to date and relevant in the solution of engineering problems in Nigeria, the Department takes keen interest in student projects, Students Industrial Work Experience Scheme, staff research activities and consultancy services for local industries. In the early seventies, the character of the Department was shaped by the need to repair war damaged equipment and machinery in our immediate vicinity. This has since been expanded to include such areas as building a spare parts base for local industries, local fabrication of machinery, research on solar and renewable energy, performance studies of local industries with a view to improving their efficiency. To meet the modern day challenges of Mechanical Engineers to design, build and operate machines, plants and processes, the programme is continuously being restructured to strike a balance between theory and practice.
In order to increase the capabilities for tackling these increasingly more sophisticated problems, the Department in 1978 mounted a postgraduate programme in such specialist areas as Design and Manufacturing Engineering, Energy and Power Technology, Industrial Engineering and Management, Fluid Mechanics and Gas Dynamics. The Department is proud to note that its graduates at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels are distinguishing themselves in industries all over Nigeria.