Mechanical Engineering in the University of the Philippines began in January 10, 1916 when the UP Board of Regents approved the curricula leading to the degrees of Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering. In the following academic year, 1916-1917, the degree program was officially opened, and the Department was first headed by Prof. Herman W. Reynolds from the University of California. The Department graduated its first batch of students in 1920, as the second oldest program in the College.
Mechanical Engineering had been viewed as a field which befits only the male students such that only one female student would enroll as an M.E. freshman in the 1970s to early 1980s. It was only starting 1998 when the number of female students has accounted for more than ten percent of the total M.E. freshmen population.
In the 1970s, the M.E. faculty offices occupied Room 217 of Melchor Hall until it was transferred in the early 80s to the former National Engineering Center Office in Room MH327. In 2002, the Department transferred to its current location at the ground floor of the M.E. Laboratories Building.
The M.E. Shop was located on the same block as the Met-Mining Pilot Plant, until it was transferred to the M.E. Laboratories Building in 1973. The Shop was housed in the German Yia Hall in the early 80s. The building was rebuilt in 2016 and the Shop was upgraded to the UPME Design and Manufacturing Center.