Department of Mechanical Engineering

Professor Nam P. Suh, who was the Department Head for the past 10 years, stepped down from this position on June 30, 2001. His vigorous and farsighted leadership has transformed the department dramatically. His vision was to "transform the field of mechanical engineering from a discipline that has been primarily based on physics into one that is based on physics, information and biology."

During his tenure, the department has seen the creation of an unprecedented number of new or upgraded facilities including the d'Arbeloff Laboratory for Information Systems and Technology, the Pappalardo Undergraduate Laboratory, the AMP Laboratory for Materials, the Rohsenow Laboratory for Heat Transfer, the Cross Student Lounge, the Cross Computer Aided Design (CAD)/Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) Laboratory, the BJ and JH Park Lecture Halls, the Hatsopoulos Laboratory for Micro-Fluid Dynamics, and the Papken Der Torossian Undergraduate Computing Facility. In addition, the undergraduate curriculum underwent a dramatic revision under Professor Suh's guidance. Our new curriculum integrates disciplinary material, has increased hands-on learning, trains students in active learning, and blends analysis with synthesis. During this time the expertise of the faculty grew, with new faculty hired in Bioengineering, Optics, Molecular Modeling, Micro-scale Heat Transfer, Micro- and Nano-scale Mechanical Engineering, and Information. At the same time the traditional areas of mechanical engineering retained their vitality through a number of strong hires in those areas.

Two new facilities were opened this year: the Cross Student Lounge in Building 3 and the Cross CAD/CAM Laboratory in Building 35. The lounge is used extensively by our students for both academic and social purposes. The department supplies it with newspapers and coffee each weekday. The creation of the CAD/CAM Laboratory has provided a much-needed upgrade and is used in both undergraduate and graduate classes. Both of these facilities were made possible through a generous gift from Mr. Ralph E. Cross, a long time friend and supporter of the department.

Construction of the BJ and JH Park Lecture Halls in Building 3, to replace the traditional classrooms 3-270 and 3-370, has begun. This construction is not a simple renovation. One of the new rooms will allow us to implement a new hands-on self-discovery mode of education; here students will carry out simple experiments during lecture, where they will discover and think about various phenomena and concepts. Special tables, that can be used as regular desks as well as laboratory work-tables, were designed for this room by Professor Emanuel Sachs. Each desk has AC and DC power, compressed air, a tool box, and an internet connection. In addition, the Singapore-MIT Alliance will use these rooms for distance education and they have financed state of the art equipment for this purpose. Construction of these classroom was made possible by a generous gift from Dr. and Mrs. BJ Park. Dr. Park is an alumnus of our department.

A complete renovation of the Fluid Mechanics Laboratory has commenced, leading to the creation of the Hatsopoulos Laboratory for Micro-Fluid Dynamics. It was made possible by a generous gift from Dr. George and Mrs. Daphne Hatsopoulos, long time friends and supporters of the department.

This was the first year of operation of the Cambridge-MIT Institute, a broad-ranging collaboration between the University of Cambridge and MIT. A pilot undergraduate exchange was initiated under the leadership of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Seven MIT students spent their junior year in Cambridge, four of whom were from the Department of Mechanical Engineering. It was a tremendously enriching year for the Course II students: Kristen Clements, Gina Kim, Kevin Lang, and Linus Park. In addition to being able to transfer a full year of academic credit back to MIT, they immersed themselves in the traditional rituals of College life, participated in the rich musical and athletic programs of the University, and traveled widely within Europe. As a result of this positive experience, the pilot program will turn into a full-scale student exchange this coming year.

Another new activity which the department has been involved in this past year was a "harassment sensitization workshop" which was organized by a diverse group of graduate students, under the leadership of the Mechanical Engineering Graduate Association of Women (MEGA Women). Working with Mary Rowe, the MIT Ombudsperson, they developed an hour-long program of videos and conversation which was attended by over 80 percent of the faculty, staff, and graduate students in the department. According to Mary Rowe, this was a unique event at MIT and a highly successful one.

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Undergraduate Program

During this past year we have continued to work on our curriculum, instructional pedagogy, and educational facilities. The Designated Professors worked on the core sequences, integrating knowledge in the engineering disciplines, increasing the role of active learning and the hands-on experience, and blending analysis with synthesis.

Professors Mary Boyce, Sanjay Sarma, and Emanuel Sachs implemented a "self-discovery" mode of learning in 2.001 Mechanics and Materials I. Individual experiments are carried out by the students during lecture, enabling the students to discover for themselves the key phenomenon or concept to be studied. Major funding for this initiative came from the I-Campus Program.

The department had a total undergraduate enrollment of 284 students with 34 percent women and 31 percent African American, Hispanic or Native American. Undergraduate enrollment in Mechanical Engineering has been declining worldwide and we have seen this reflected in our own statistics. A major goal for the coming year is to understand the external and internal causes of this decline and to implement changes to reverse this trend at least within MIT.

Table 1. Undergraduate Enrollment

Academic Year 95–96 96–97 97–98 98–99 99–00 00–01
Sophomores 136 126 116 121 106 83
Juniors 120 128 125 117 116 91
Seniors 148 125 121 132 108 110
Total 404 379 362 370 330 284

Honors and Awards

American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Foundation Scholarships: Collins Pettus Ward and Anastasios John Hart

ASME Garland Duncan Scholarship: Mary Kathryn Thompson

Department Service Award: Emily Hui and Mary Kathryn Thompson

Thomas Sheridan Prize for Creativity in Man-Machine Integration: Aaron J. Schmidt

Padmakar P. Lele Student Awards for Undergraduate Assistants: Tsu-Te Judith Su, Niyati N. Gandhi, Rony Kubat, John M. McBean and Mary Kathryn Thompson

Luis De Florez Awards for Ingenuity and Creativity: Justin W. Raade, Patrick A. Petri, Jonathn D. Rohrs and John M. McBean

AMP Inc. Award for Outstanding Performance in 2.008: Jennifer T. Blundo and Timothy P. McEvoy

Whitelaw Prize for Originality in 2.007 Design: William J. Fienup and Kathy Hwang

International Design Competition Team: Jessica L. Baker, William S. Del Hagen, Alexander T. Jacobs, William Lark, Sarah E. Mendelowitz, and Bryan D. Schmid

Wunsch Foundation Silent Hoist and Crane Awards for Outstanding Undergraduate Project or Thesis Related to Materials Handling: Soohyun Park, Kateri A. Garcia, Christina S. Park, Mark N. Jeunnette, Chunhua Zheng, Grant W. Kristofek, Patrick B. Buckley, and Alison Wong

Pi Tau Sigma Mechanical Engineering Honor Society: Emily Hui (President); Roman Luz (Vice-President); Debbie Redman and Stephanie Praster (Secretaries); Frederico Gutierrez (Treasurer); Patrick Petri and Maria-Louisa Izamis (Tutoring Program Coordinators);

ASME Student Chapter: Collins Ward (President), Kate Thompson (Vice-president), Alex Johnson (Secretary), Jen Blundo (Treasurer).

Graduate Program

Our graduate program continues to be strong with a total of 378 students. Of the 197 students in the Master's program, 30 percent were foreign, 20 percent were women, and 3 percent were minorities. Of the 181 students in the doctoral program 61 percent were foreign, 10 percent were women, and 8 percent were minorities. Our students were supported by 241 Research Assistantships, 25 Teaching Assistantships, 18 National Science Foundation (NSF) Fellowships, 4 Department of Defense (DOD) Fellowships, and 69 other Fellowships.

Table 2. Graduate Enrollment

Academic Year 95–96 96–97 97–98 98–99 99–00 00–01
Masters 208 228 212 220 225 197
Doctoral 191 176 169 172 159 181
Total 399 404 381 392 384 378

This past year 641 students applied for admission to our graduate program; 28 percent of them were offered admission and 56 percent of whom matriculated.

Because of the changing nature of the research interests of our faculty and the field of Mechanical Engineering, a number of new graduate subjects have been developed and are now being successfully offered. These include subjects in molecular modeling, complex fluids, optics, biophysics, internet technology, and information.

In order to keep up with the changing nature of the field, we have also begun to revise our doctoral qualifying examination. In the past the examination areas were limited, more or less, to the mainstream areas of Mechanical Engineering. The possible areas have now been broadened to allow a group of three faculty members to propose a new area for examination as well as a new format. The specific proposals will be made this coming year.

The "Pappalardo Curriculum Development Fund"-an endowment created by Neil and Jane Pappalardo has been supporting a number of undergraduate and graduate book writing projects. At the graduate level these include a book on Biophysics which spans the scales from molecular through cellular to organs, by Professors Grodzinsky, Kamm, and Mahadevan; and a book on environmental fluid mechanics by Professor James Fay. The books will appear in the MIT-Pappalardo Series of Mechanical Engineering Books. The first book in this series, Axiomatic Design: Advances and Applications authored by Professor Nam P. Suh appeared this year.

Honors and Awards

Department Service Award: Ephrat Most and Maribel Vazquez

Carl G. Sontheimer Prize for Creativity and Innovation in Design: Matthew Sweetland

The student organization of Mechanical Engineering graduate women, MEGAWomen, has been very active this year, having organized numerous social events for female and male students, as well as qualifying examination preparation sessions and a harrassment sensitization program. The officers of MEGAWomen were Ephrat Most and Maribel Vazquez (co-Presidents).

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Faculty Notes

Tenure was granted to Professors Seth Lloyd and Peter So.

Professors David Cochran and Anna Thornton were promoted from Assistant to Associate Professor.

Professors Jung-Hoon Chun and Gareth McKinley were promoted from Associate to Full Professor.

Professor Nicolas Hadjiconstantinou was appointed the Rockwell Assistant Professor.

Professor Douglas Hart was appointed the d'Arbeloff Associate Professor.

Professor Emanuel Sachs was appointed the Fred Fort Flowers and Daniel Fort Flowers Professor of Mechanical Engineering.

Professor Rohan Abeyaratne was appointed Head of Department effective July 1, 2001.

Martin Culpeper joined the department as Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering. He received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Iowa State University and his Ph.D. from MIT. His field of specialty is Precision Design.

Sang-Gook Kim joined the department as Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering. He received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Seoul National University and his PhD from MIT. He came to us after having led the development of a reflective imaging technology at Daewoo Electronics Company. His field of speciality is the design and manufacture of devices at the nano- and micro-scales.

Professors Anna Thornton and Taiqing Qiu resigned from the department.

Professor Ali S. Argon retired from the department. He was a leader in the field of materials and brought much recognition to MIT through his many pioneering contributions.

Professor L. Mahadevan was elected to be the first Schlumberger Professor of Complex Systems at Cambridge University. He is on leave from MIT.

Professor Nam P. Suh received an honorary doctoral degree from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. He was also awarded the Mensforth International Gold Medal of the Institution of Electrical Engineers of the United Kingdom; and the first Hills Millennium Award of the Institution of Engineering Designers of the UK.

Professor John Heywood was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Professor Douglas Hart received ASME's Robert T. Knapp Award.

Professor L. Mahadevan won the Society of Engineering Science Young Investigator Award.

Professor Mary Boyce was selected as a MacVicar Faculty Fellow.

Professor Seth Lloyd was awarded the Edgerton Prize.

Professor Triantaphyllos Akylas received a Ruth and Joel Spira Teaching Award.

Professor Forbes Dewey received the Soderberg Award for service.

Professor Sanjay Sarma received the Den Hartog Distinguished Educator Award.

Professor Ahmed Ghoniem was elected a fellow of ASME.

Professor Steve Dubowsky was elected a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

Professor Nam P. Suh published the first book in the MIT-Pappalardo Mechanical Engineering Series entitled Axiomatic Design: Advances and Applications.

Professor K. Jurgen Bathe organized the very successful "First MIT Conference on Computational Fluid and Solid Mechanics."

The following members of staff were also recognized. The Caloggero Award for service went to Leslie Regan and Peggy Garlick. Four of the Institute's Infinite Mile Awards went to Maggie Beucler, Marion Gross, Joan Kravit, and Leslie Regan.

Rohan Abeyaratne

More information about the Department of Mechanical Engineering can be found online at

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