The Basics of Internal Combustion Engines C0103

Topics: Powertrain & Propulsion

In your profession, an educated understanding of internal combustion engines is required, not optional. This two-day technology survey seminar covers the most relevant topics - ranging from the chemistry of combustion to the kinematics of internal components of the modern internal combustion engine - for maximum comprehension. Attendees will gain a practical, hands-on 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, and the design theories that embody these concepts.
Learning Objectives

By attending this seminar, 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 understand 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

Who Should Attend

Designed for powertrain engineers, component suppliers, vehicle platform powertrain development specialists, and those involved in the application, design and discussion of engines. It is recommended that seminar attendees have an undergraduate engineering degree.

Also available as an SAE On Demand Course!
Basics of Internal Combustion Engines (PD730944)


"The SAE Instructor, Dr. William Mark McVea, made difficult concepts understandable and provided real-world examples of application.”
Helenann Gabler
Certification Staff
Toyota Technical Center

"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.

"Great class and very well taught. Perfect refresher for anyone!"
Paul Connor
Calibration Engineer
Ilmor Engineering, Inc.

"Very competent instructor with immense knowledge. Very entertaining and keeps everyone engaged.”
Sonya Zanardelli
Powertrain Supervisor

You must complete all course contact hours and successfully pass the learning assessment to obtain CEUs.

  • Fundamental Operating Procedures
    • Open circuit
    • Closed circuit
    • Internal combustion
    • External combustion
    • Spark ignition
    • Compression ignition
  • Engine Technology
    • 2-stroke
    • 4-stroke
    • Pistons, connecting rods and crankshaft
    • Valvetrain, camshaft and timing gear
    • Engine block, cylinder and head geometry
    • Manifold, surface finish, track length
    • Fuel systems, carburetors, fuel injection
    • Turbo- and super-charger
    • Ignition, timing and spark advance
  • Fuel Delivery Systems
    • Air intake systems
    • Fuel delivery
    • The problem of part throttle operation
    • Intake manifold design and tuning
    • Turbo-charging
    • Super-charging
    • Introduction to emissions
    • Fuel management and control theory
    • Fuel injection
    • ECU operation
    • Sensors and instrumentation
  • Valve Train
    • Operation
    • Arrangement -- Push-rod; Single overhead cam shaft (SOHC) design; Dual-overhead cam shaft (DOHC) design
    • Camshaft function and design considerations
    • Valve timing
    • Valve-train design considerations
  • Component and Event Timing
    • Valve actuation timing
    • Valve timing diagram
    • Spark ignition event and timing
    • Compression ignition injection event and timing
  • Fuels & Combustion
    • Definition of hydrocarbon based fuels
    • Stoichiometric Burn Efficiency
    • Air / Fuel Ratio
    • Gasoline
    • Diesel
    • Octane rating
    • Cetane rating
    • Hydrocarbon emission
    • Flame types
    • Thermodynamic efficiencies
    • Ignition requirements
    • Combustion chamber and head design
  • Ignition
    • Common ignition sources
    • Combustion abnormalities
    • Spark plug design considerations
    • Ignition timing
  • Emissions & Controls
    • Chemistry of emissions
    • Emission controls
    • Catalytic converter operation
    • Exhaust gas recirculation (EGR)
    • Valve overlap control
    • Introduction to variable camshaft timing (VCT)
  • Thermodynamics
    • Definition and comparison of common internal combustion cycles
    • Otto cycle
    • Diesel cycle
    • Dual cycle
    • Atkinson cycle
  • Energy Conversion Kinematics and Mechanisms
    • Cylinder arrangement
    • Piston design considerations
    • Piston ring application
    • Connecting rod design considerations
    • Crankshaft design
    • Balancing
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.

Duration: 2 Days
CEUs: 1.3

Format: Classroom

Event ID: LM006

Location: Troy, Michigan

Session Info:

8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Fees: $1,299.00

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