UPSC also offers engineering subjects as an optional subject for UPSC Civil Services (Main) examination. The subjects offered under engineering are mechanical, civil, and electrical engineering, all three of which are core branches of engineering. Now, it goes without saying that you have to be a graduate in subjects if you were to take this optional. Although anybody can opt for any subject, mere interest in any of such specialized disciplines would not make it the best fit for you.
Generally, there are very few takers for mechanical engineering optional subject for UPSC. Most of the candidates who take up engineering subjects are IES (Indian Engineering Services) aspirants too. In this article, we will discuss the UPSC Mechanical Engineering optional syllabus, booklist and a robust preparation strategy.
Paper 1:
Mechanics 
Mechanics of rigid bodies 
Equations of equilibrium in space and its application; 

Mechanics of deformable bodies 
Generalized Hooke's law and its application; design problems on axial stress, shear stress and bearing stress; material properties for dynamic loading; bending shear and stresses in beams; determination of principle stresses and strains  analytical and graphical; compound and combined stresses; biaxial stresses  thinwalled pressure vessel; material behavior and design factors for the dynamic load; design of circular shafts for bending and torsional load only; deflection of the beam for statically determinate problems; theories of failure. 
Engineering Materials: 

Basic concepts on the structure of solids 
Theory of Machines: 

Kinematic and dynamic analysis of plane mechanisms. Cams, Gears and epicyclic gear trains, flywheels, governors, balancing of rigid rotors, balancing of single and multicylinder engines, linear vibration analysis of mechanical systems (single degree of freedom), Critical speeds and whirling of shafts. 
Manufacturing Science 
Manufacturing Process 
Machine tool engineering – Merchant's force analysis; Taylor's tool life equation; conventional machining; NC and CNC machining process; jigs and fixtures. Nonconventional machining – EDM, ECM, ultrasonic, water jet machining, etc; application of lasers and plasmas; energy rate calculations. Forming and welding processes standard processes. Metrology  the concept of fits and tolerances; tools and gauges; comparators; inspection of length; position; profile and surface finish. 

Manufacturing Management 
System design: factory location simple OR models; plant layout  methods based; applications of engineering economic analysis and breakeven analysis for product selection, process selection, and capacity planning; predetermined time standards. System planning; forecasting methods based on regression and decomposition, design and balancing of multimodel and stochastic assembly lines; inventory management – probabilistic inventory models for order time and order quantity determination; JIT systems; strategic sourcing; managing inter plant logistics. System operations and control: Scheduling algorithms for job shops; applications of statistical methods for product and process quality control  applications of control charts for mean, range, percent defective, number of defectives and defects per unit; quality cost systems; management of resources, organizations, and risks in projects. System improvement: Implementation of systems, such as total quality management, developing and managing flexible, lean, and agile organizations. 
Paper 2:
Thermodynamics, Gas Dynamics and Turbine 
Basic concept of First –law and second law of Thermodynamics; the concept of entropy and reversibility; availability and unavailability and irreversibility. 
Classification and properties of fluids; incompressible and compressible fluids flows; effect of Mach number and compressibility; continuity momentum and energy equations; normal and oblique shocks; onedimensional isentropic flow; flow or fluids in a duct with frictions that transfer. 

Flowthrough fans, blowers, and compressors; axial and centrifugal flow configuration; design of fans and compressors; single problems compresses and turbine cascade; open and closed cycle gas turbines; work done in the gas turbine; reheat and regenerators. 

Heat Transfer 
Conduction heat transfer general conduction equation  Laplace, Poisson, and Fourier equations; Fourier law of conduction; onedimensional steadystate heat conduction applied to the simple wall, solid and hollow cylinder & spheres. 
Convection heat transfer Newton's law of convection; free and forces convection; heat transfer during the laminar and turbulent flow of an incompressible fluid over a flat plate; concepts of Nusselt number, hydrodynamic and thermal boundary layer their thickness; Prandtl number; analogy between heat and momentum transfer Reynolds, Colbum, Prandtl analogies; heat transfer during laminar and turbulent flow through horizontal tubes; free convection from horizontal and vertical plates. 

Black body radiation  basic radiation laws such as StefanBoltzman, Planck distribution, Wein's displacement, etc. 

Basic heat exchanger analysis; classification of heat exchangers. 

I .C. Engines 
Classification, thermodynamic cycles of operation; determination of break power, indicated power, mechanical efficiency, heat balance sheet, interpretation of performance characteristics, petrol, gas, and diesel engines. 
Combustion in SI and CI engines, normal and abnormal combustion; effect of working parameters on knocking, reduction of knocking; Forms of the combustion chamber for SI and CI engines; rating of fuels; additives; emission 

Different systems of IC engines fuels; lubricating; cooling and transmission systems. Alternate fuels in IC engines. 

Steam Engineering 
Steam generation modified Rankine cycle analysis; Modern steam boilers; steam at critical and supercritical pressures; draught equipment; natural and artificial draught; boiler fuels solid, liquid, and gaseous fuels. Steam turbines  principle; types; compounding; impulse and reaction turbines; axial thrust. 
Steam nozzles a flow of steam in the convergent and divergent nozzle; pressure at throat for maximum discharge with different initial steam conditions such as wet, saturated and superheated, the effect of variation of back pressure; the supersaturated flow of steam in nozzles, Wilson line. 

Rankine cycle with internal and external irreversibility; reheat factor; reheating and regeneration, methods of governing; back pressure and pass out turbines. 

Steam power plants  combined cycle power generation; heat recovery steam generators (HRSG) fired and unfired, cogeneration plants. 

Refrigeration and airconditioning 
Vapour compression refrigeration cycle  cycle on pH & Ts diagrams; ecofriendly refrigerants  R134a,123; Systems like evaporators, condensers, compressor, expansion devices. Simple vapor absorption systems. 
Psychrometry  properties; processes; charts; sensible heating and cooling; humidification and dehumidification effective temperature; airconditioning load calculation; simple duct design. 
Pros of Mechanical Engineering Optional
Objective Nature of Paper: The paper of mechanical engineering or any other technical subject is objective in nature which means that there is only one right answer for the question that is being asked, your personal opinion or views do not matter much. Therefore, the scores in this paper do not vary much if you are writing the correct answer.
Familiarity with the subject: Engineers who have studied this subject for four years in their graduation would naturally be more familiar with the subject in comparison to other humanities subjects.
Difficulty Level of the exam: The difficulty level of the questions are not that high, it is pretty much similar to the level of graduation or probably one notch higher than that.
Cons of Mechanical Engineering Optional
Vast Syllabus: The syllabus is undoubtedly extremely vast which will require you to study it for a longer time than any other humanities optional. It will, therefore, lessen the time that you will get for your General Studies preparation.
No Overlap:While other humanities subject may find a decent overlap in the syllabus, with technical optional subject, there is no scope for any overlap.
Here are all the resource books that you will need for Mechanical Engineering optional subject. Now, since there is not much difference in the syllabus for Mechanical Engineering for IES and IAS exam, you can pretty much rely on the resources used for the IES exam. Here’re the resources you’ll need:
Fundamentals of Classed Thermodynamics  Van Wylen
Engineering Heat Transfer  Gupta Prakash
Heat and Mass Transfer  R. Yadav
Energy Conversion  Sukhalmoy
Environmental Pollution Central Engineering C S Rao
Surveying and Levelling  T P Kanetakar
Heat Conversion  Arora & Kundwar
Manufacturing Science  R K Jain
Thermodynamics  R Yadav Theory of Mechanics  S S Rattan
Theory of Mechanism and Mechanics  Jagdish Lal.
Engineering Mechanics of Solids  Popov E
Manufacturing Science  Ghosh and Malik
Manufacturing Technology  P N Rao
Production Management  R K Jain
Principles of Manufacturing Material & Process  Campbeu
Step zero should be to get a hang of what kind of questions are being asked in the examination. Refer to the previous year’s papers and analyze them thoroughly. This will give you an idea of what exactly you need to prepare and the depth of knowledge you should have.
Next, go for studying the theoretical aspects of the syllabus from the standard books and notes that are available. You can leverage NPTEL lectures and Made easy notes to cover this part.
Then, go for solving numerical problems. Start with solving solved examples from standard textbooks. Once you have done that, go for solving the numerical from previous year papers.
The next and the most important part of the preparation strategy is the thorough revision that you should incorporate into your preparation on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Try to revise the entire syllabus at least twice before the Mains examination.
Career Launcher brings to you comprehensive online courses for UPSC CSE Preparation. You can check out the entire course range here. Do get in touch with our course counselors for more details on our course deliverables.
UPSC also offers engineering subjects as an optional subject for UPSC Civil Services (Main) examination. The subjects offered under engineering are mechanical, civil, and electrical engineering, all three of which are core branches of engineering. Now, it goes without saying that you have to be a graduate in subjects if you were to take this optional. Although anybody can opt for any subject, mere interest in any of such specialized disciplines would not make it the best fit for you.
Generally, there are very few takers for mechanical engineering optional subject for UPSC. Most of the candidates who take up engineering subjects are IES (Indian Engineering Services) aspirants too. In this article, we will discuss the UPSC Mechanical Engineering optional syllabus, booklist and a robust preparation strategy.
Paper 1:
Mechanics 
Mechanics of rigid bodies 
Equations of equilibrium in space and its application; 

Mechanics of deformable bodies 
Generalized Hooke's law and its application; design problems on axial stress, shear stress and bearing stress; material properties for dynamic loading; bending shear and stresses in beams; determination of principle stresses and strains  analytical and graphical; compound and combined stresses; biaxial stresses  thinwalled pressure vessel; material behavior and design factors for the dynamic load; design of circular shafts for bending and torsional load only; deflection of the beam for statically determinate problems; theories of failure. 
Engineering Materials: 

Basic concepts on the structure of solids 
Theory of Machines: 

Kinematic and dynamic analysis of plane mechanisms. Cams, Gears and epicyclic gear trains, flywheels, governors, balancing of rigid rotors, balancing of single and multicylinder engines, linear vibration analysis of mechanical systems (single degree of freedom), Critical speeds and whirling of shafts. 
Manufacturing Science 
Manufacturing Process 
Machine tool engineering – Merchant's force analysis; Taylor's tool life equation; conventional machining; NC and CNC machining process; jigs and fixtures. Nonconventional machining – EDM, ECM, ultrasonic, water jet machining, etc; application of lasers and plasmas; energy rate calculations. Forming and welding processes standard processes. Metrology  the concept of fits and tolerances; tools and gauges; comparators; inspection of length; position; profile and surface finish. 

Manufacturing Management 
System design: factory location simple OR models; plant layout  methods based; applications of engineering economic analysis and breakeven analysis for product selection, process selection, and capacity planning; predetermined time standards. System planning; forecasting methods based on regression and decomposition, design and balancing of multimodel and stochastic assembly lines; inventory management – probabilistic inventory models for order time and order quantity determination; JIT systems; strategic sourcing; managing inter plant logistics. System operations and control: Scheduling algorithms for job shops; applications of statistical methods for product and process quality control  applications of control charts for mean, range, percent defective, number of defectives and defects per unit; quality cost systems; management of resources, organizations, and risks in projects. System improvement: Implementation of systems, such as total quality management, developing and managing flexible, lean, and agile organizations. 
Paper 2:
Thermodynamics, Gas Dynamics and Turbine 
Basic concept of First –law and second law of Thermodynamics; the concept of entropy and reversibility; availability and unavailability and irreversibility. 
Classification and properties of fluids; incompressible and compressible fluids flows; effect of Mach number and compressibility; continuity momentum and energy equations; normal and oblique shocks; onedimensional isentropic flow; flow or fluids in a duct with frictions that transfer. 

Flowthrough fans, blowers, and compressors; axial and centrifugal flow configuration; design of fans and compressors; single problems compresses and turbine cascade; open and closed cycle gas turbines; work done in the gas turbine; reheat and regenerators. 

Heat Transfer 
Conduction heat transfer general conduction equation  Laplace, Poisson, and Fourier equations; Fourier law of conduction; onedimensional steadystate heat conduction applied to the simple wall, solid and hollow cylinder & spheres. 
Convection heat transfer Newton's law of convection; free and forces convection; heat transfer during the laminar and turbulent flow of an incompressible fluid over a flat plate; concepts of Nusselt number, hydrodynamic and thermal boundary layer their thickness; Prandtl number; analogy between heat and momentum transfer Reynolds, Colbum, Prandtl analogies; heat transfer during laminar and turbulent flow through horizontal tubes; free convection from horizontal and vertical plates. 

Black body radiation  basic radiation laws such as StefanBoltzman, Planck distribution, Wein's displacement, etc. 

Basic heat exchanger analysis; classification of heat exchangers. 

I .C. Engines 
Classification, thermodynamic cycles of operation; determination of break power, indicated power, mechanical efficiency, heat balance sheet, interpretation of performance characteristics, petrol, gas, and diesel engines. 
Combustion in SI and CI engines, normal and abnormal combustion; effect of working parameters on knocking, reduction of knocking; Forms of the combustion chamber for SI and CI engines; rating of fuels; additives; emission 

Different systems of IC engines fuels; lubricating; cooling and transmission systems. Alternate fuels in IC engines. 

Steam Engineering 
Steam generation modified Rankine cycle analysis; Modern steam boilers; steam at critical and supercritical pressures; draught equipment; natural and artificial draught; boiler fuels solid, liquid, and gaseous fuels. Steam turbines  principle; types; compounding; impulse and reaction turbines; axial thrust. 
Steam nozzles a flow of steam in the convergent and divergent nozzle; pressure at throat for maximum discharge with different initial steam conditions such as wet, saturated and superheated, the effect of variation of back pressure; the supersaturated flow of steam in nozzles, Wilson line. 

Rankine cycle with internal and external irreversibility; reheat factor; reheating and regeneration, methods of governing; back pressure and pass out turbines. 

Steam power plants  combined cycle power generation; heat recovery steam generators (HRSG) fired and unfired, cogeneration plants. 

Refrigeration and airconditioning 
Vapour compression refrigeration cycle  cycle on pH & Ts diagrams; ecofriendly refrigerants  R134a,123; Systems like evaporators, condensers, compressor, expansion devices. Simple vapor absorption systems. 
Psychrometry  properties; processes; charts; sensible heating and cooling; humidification and dehumidification effective temperature; airconditioning load calculation; simple duct design. 
Pros of Mechanical Engineering Optional
Objective Nature of Paper: The paper of mechanical engineering or any other technical subject is objective in nature which means that there is only one right answer for the question that is being asked, your personal opinion or views do not matter much. Therefore, the scores in this paper do not vary much if you are writing the correct answer.
Familiarity with the subject: Engineers who have studied this subject for four years in their graduation would naturally be more familiar with the subject in comparison to other humanities subjects.
Difficulty Level of the exam: The difficulty level of the questions are not that high, it is pretty much similar to the level of graduation or probably one notch higher than that.
Cons of Mechanical Engineering Optional
Vast Syllabus: The syllabus is undoubtedly extremely vast which will require you to study it for a longer time than any other humanities optional. It will, therefore, lessen the time that you will get for your General Studies preparation.
No Overlap:While other humanities subject may find a decent overlap in the syllabus, with technical optional subject, there is no scope for any overlap.
Here are all the resource books that you will need for Mechanical Engineering optional subject. Now, since there is not much difference in the syllabus for Mechanical Engineering for IES and IAS exam, you can pretty much rely on the resources used for the IES exam. Here’re the resources you’ll need:
Fundamentals of Classed Thermodynamics  Van Wylen
Engineering Heat Transfer  Gupta Prakash
Heat and Mass Transfer  R. Yadav
Energy Conversion  Sukhalmoy
Environmental Pollution Central Engineering C S Rao
Surveying and Levelling  T P Kanetakar
Heat Conversion  Arora & Kundwar
Manufacturing Science  R K Jain
Thermodynamics  R Yadav Theory of Mechanics  S S Rattan
Theory of Mechanism and Mechanics  Jagdish Lal.
Engineering Mechanics of Solids  Popov E
Manufacturing Science  Ghosh and Malik
Manufacturing Technology  P N Rao
Production Management  R K Jain
Principles of Manufacturing Material & Process  Campbeu
Step zero should be to get a hang of what kind of questions are being asked in the examination. Refer to the previous year’s papers and analyze them thoroughly. This will give you an idea of what exactly you need to prepare and the depth of knowledge you should have.
Next, go for studying the theoretical aspects of the syllabus from the standard books and notes that are available. You can leverage NPTEL lectures and Made easy notes to cover this part.
Then, go for solving numerical problems. Start with solving solved examples from standard textbooks. Once you have done that, go for solving the numerical from previous year papers.
The next and the most important part of the preparation strategy is the thorough revision that you should incorporate into your preparation on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Try to revise the entire syllabus at least twice before the Mains examination.
Career Launcher brings to you comprehensive online courses for UPSC CSE Preparation. You can check out the entire course range here. Do get in touch with our course counselors for more details on our course deliverables.