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Basics of Internal Combustion Engines PD730944

In your profession, an educated understanding of internal combustion engines is required, not optional. This course covers the most relevant topics for maximum comprehension, from the chemistry of combustion to the kinematics of internal components of the modern internal combustion engine. You’ll gain a practical, thorough approach to the basics of the most common designs of internal combustion engines as they apply to the gaseous cycles, thermodynamics, and heat transfer to the major components. The course also includes the design theories that embody these concepts.

This ten-hour course is comprised of twelve modules that include the instructor’s insights and industry experience working with internal combustion engine design and application. The modules cover various topics including (but not limited to), two- and four-stroke cycles, principle operational differences of various fuels, timing and working relationships among internal components, limitations to current designs, and the evaluation of new designs.

While the course is approximately ten hours in length, the estimated time to completion, including knowledge checks and the learning assessment is eleven hours.


By participating in this On Demand Course, you will be able to:

  • Discuss in detail the basic functioning and component interaction in a modern internal combustion engine, specifically; two and four-stroke cycles as they relate to reciprocating and rotary engine designs
  • Describe the general thermodynamic concepts governing the operation of an internal combustion engine and its various cycles
  • Compare the principle operational differences of the various fuels used in internal combustion engines, their availability, and summarize the applicability of each
  • Discuss the function and operation of all major components and systems within a modern internal combustion engine
  • Identify the operational principles behind the timing and working relationships among all internal components, and articulate the importance of this inter-relationship
  • Recognize the limitations of the current designs and implementations of the modern internal combustion engine
  • Perform a basic assessment and evaluation of new, cutting-edge designs and new powertrain initiatives as they apply to the mobility industry

Materials Provided

  • 90 days of online single-user access (from date of purchase) to the approximately 10 hour presentation
  • 12 video modules (see Topics/Outline tab)
  • Integrated knowledge checks to reinforce key concepts
  • Online learning assessment (submit to SAE)
  • Course handbook (downloadable, .pdf's)
  • Follow up to your content questions
  • 1.1 CEUs*/Certificate of Achievement (upon completion of all course content and a score of 70% or higher on the learning assessment)

*SAE International is authorized by IACET to offer CEUs for this course.

Is this On Demand Course for You?

If you are a powertrain engineer, component supplier, vehicle platform powertrain development specialist, or involved in the application, design, or discussion of engines this course is for you. It is recommended that course participants have an undergraduate engineering degree.

This course is equivalent to the classroom seminar, The Basics of Internal Combustion Engines, and satisfies a requirement in the Spark Ignition (SI) Engine Certificate Program.


Have colleagues who need this course? See Special Offers to the right.

Click on the Requirements tab to make sure you are properly equipped to interact with this course.

For More Details

Email, or call 1-877-606-7323 (U.S. and Canada) or 724-776-4970 (outside US and Canada).

  • Module I: General Concepts
  • Module II: Engine Types
  • Module III: Fundamental Operating Procedures
  • Module IV: Engine Technology
  • Module V: Thermodynamics
  • Module VI: Air/Fuel Delivery Systems
  • Module VII: Valve Train
  • Module VIII: Component and Event Timing
  • Module IX: Fuels and Combustion
  • Module X: Ignition
  • Module XI: Emissions and Controls [Total Run Time: 51 minutes]
    • Provide a brief narrative of the formation and levels of emissions produced within an internal combustion engine
    • Explain the functional aspect of all components related to the control of the amount of emissions produced, specifically the control systems used:
      • Passive
      • Active
      • Prior to formation
      • After treatment
    • Contribute to a discussion of the developmental examinations of:
      • Valve timing as an emission control system
      • Variable camshaft actuation
      • Variable valve actuation
    • Describe the functional meaning of thermodynamics as a means to quantify efficiency measures
  • Module XII: Energy Conversion and Kinematics [Total Run Time: 51 minutes]
    • Explain the various components of hardware of the bottom half of a motor
    • Define the movable parts of the cylinder:
      • Pistons
      • Connecting Rod
      • Crankshaft
      • Balancer
    • Define balancing theory

  • Windows 7, 8, 10 (other operating systems and mobile platforms are not supported but may work)
  • Internet Explorer 11, Mozilla Firefox 37, Google Chrome 42 (other browsers are not supported)
  • Broadband-1Mbps minimum

Joe J. Doe
William Mark McVea

Dr. William Mark McVea, P.E., is currently President and Principal Engineer of KBE+, Inc. where he and his team design and develop complete powertrains for automotive and off-highway vehicles. Dr. McVea has held many positions within the mechanical drive and powertrain industry; most recently as Chief Technology Officer for Torvec, Inc., an industry leader in the design and development of patented powertrain engineering technology used primarily in the automotive industry. His prior positions include Professor of Vehicle Dynamics and Powertrain Sciences in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the Rochester Institute of Technology and adjunct professor at Purdue University in their Automotive Sciences Department. He was also formerly a manager of the CAE group within a tier-one powertrain supplier to global automotive markets, a consulting engineer in vehicle dynamics with Gear Consultants, Inc., and a project manager of traction systems for off-highway vehicles with Clark-Hurth International. Dr. McVea has published extensively on the topics of transmission systems, automated design assistant systems, knowledge systems and knowledge based engineering in general. He also holds or is listed as co-inventor on numerous patents related to mechanical power transmissions. Dr. McVea holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Rochester Institute of Technology, a Ph.D. in Design Engineering from Purdue University and is a licensed Professional Engineer.

1.1 CEUs


"The course is well-designed and expertly taught. It far exceeded my expectations and is a great introduction to internal combustion engines."
Matt Jackson
Southwest Research Institute

"I was challenged to learn more. It was a great introduction to Internal Combustion Engines."
Paul Slater
Wescast Industries, Inc.

"Highly recommend to new hires."
Brian Gross
Senior Project Engineer
Polaris Industries, Inc.

Access Period:90 Days

Duration: 10 Hours
Members save up to 20% off list price.
Login to see discount.

Special Offers:

Have colleagues who need this course? Purchase access for one individual at the appropriate member or list price, then purchase access for up to four additional employees at 10% off the list price. Contact SAE Customer Service to arrange online access for all individuals at the same time or mention the confirmation number for the first purchase. The offer is good for only the same on demand course. All participants will receive a personal account and opportunity for CEUs.


Quantity discounts for six or more students and corporate access options also are available - complete a Corporate Learning Solutions Request Form for a quote.