Department of Mechanical Engineering

This has been a good year for the Department of Mechanical Engineering. We were ranked once again as the number one department in the field by US News and World Report. Our students and faculty have continued to be recognized for their originality and impact on research, education, and leadership in the field of mechanical engineering. The various honors bestowed include awards from national and international organizations such as the National Academy of Engineering, the Guggenheim Foundation, ASME, IEEE, the American Academy of Arts and Science and the Institution of Design Engineers in the UK.

In the fall, we celebrated the opening of the BJ and JH Park Lecture Halls in Building 3, which replaced the traditional classrooms 3-270 and 3-370. One of the new rooms allows us to implement hands-on self-discovery modes of education where students carry out simple experiments during lecture. These rooms are also used for distance education and the Singapore-MIT Alliance financed state of the art equipment for this purpose. Construction of these classrooms was made possible by a generous gift from Dr. and Mrs. BJ Park.

In the spring, we dedicated the Hatsopoulos Laboratory for Microfluid Dynamics. This laboratory was created by a generous gift from Dr. George and Daphne Hatsopoulos. Microfluid dynamics concerns the understanding and engineering application of fluid behavior at microscopic—but not atomic—scales. Today, the laboratory houses the research of eight faculty, 40 students, and 10 post-doctoral fellows, working on developing microscale mechanical and electrical instrumentation, processing and nano-manufacturing, and related biological, medical, biomedical, and optical applications.

This year the department undertook a vigorous search and recruiting program for new faculty. In addition to ad hoc search committees, a centralized faculty hiring committee was formed to help coordinate activities between committees and to develop a database. We had searches in many of the core areas of mechanical engineering—controls, design, dynamics, energy, fluids, manufacturing—while looking for faculty members who brought new insights or worked on completely new areas within these fields. The faculty members we have hired include persons working on new energy technologies, microfluidics, biophysics, MEMS design and nano-manufacturing. They include four women faculty members.

In order to keep up with the changing nature of the field, we have revised our doctoral qualifying examination. Students are now able to take examinations in the core areas of mechanical engineering as well as in their area of specialization. It is anticipated that new examinations will be offered in areas such as optics, biophysics, micro and nano-scale engineering.

This year, we were visited by an ABET accreditation team, who reviewed our programs, including our 2A program. The 2A program has existed for many years, offering significant flexibility to undergraduates interested in following a less conventional program. The resulting degree has not, up to this point however, been accredited. Based upon this year's ABET review, it appears that this program will now be accredited as a non-traditional engineering program; the final decision from ABET will not be known until August. We see this as a significant new development that will expand and enrich our undergraduate programs.

The second textbook in the MIT-Pappalardo Series in Mechanical Engineering was published by Oxford University Press. Energy and the Environment, by James A. Fay and Dan Golomb, draws on dynamics, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, heat transfer, and the related sciences, and exposes student to a societal problem of great current concern—the use of energy and the local, regional and global environmental effects that its use engenders.

Jane and Neil Pappalardo have pledged another gift to the department. This one will create a new laboratory for nano-technology. This facility is expected to include a nano-fabrication facility and a suite of mechanical engineering laboratories with emphases on bio-chemical, thermo-fluid and opto-mechanical phenomena. This is the fourth major gift to the department from the Pappalardos.

Undergraduate Program

Undergraduate Enrollment


The following honors and prizes were awarded to our undergraduate students. Daniel Sandoval was awarded the student leadership award from the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Conference. Stephanie Praster was given the department service award. Sebastian Heersink received the Padmaker P. Lele student award for outstanding thesis. The Padmaker P. Lele student award for outstanding UROP project was given to Stephen Samouhos. The Padmakar P. Lele student award for UA's was awarded to Mark Jeunnette, Carla Pienknagura, and Stephanie Praster. William Fienup, Grant Kristofek, Nicholas Powley, and Daniel Benhammou received the Luis De Florez award for ingenuity and creativity. Peter Griffith prize for outstanding experimental projects was given to Jennifer Fiumara and Sofy Taru.  AMP Inc. award for outstanding performance in 2.008 was given to Nur Aida Abdul Rahim (at MIT from Cambridge University on the CMI program) and Malima Wolf. Whitelaw prize for originality in design was awarded to Nur Aida Abdul Rahim (at MIT from Cambridge University on the CMI program) and Erin Hul. International Design Competition team included Angela Chen, Margaret Cho, Emily Cofer, Eric Dominguez, Henry Hilton, Martin Jonikas, Aaron Parness, Nicholas Powley, Justin Ruflin, and Eric Tung. The Wunsch Foundation Silent Hoist and Crane award for outstanding undergraduate project or thesis related to materials handling went to Andrew Wallace, Jennifer Cooper, Veronica Garcia, Federico Gutierrez, Basilia Huang, Michael Roberts, Abraham Schneider, and Mary Kathryn Thompson.

The mechanical engineering honor society, Pi Tau Sigma, and our ASME student chapter have both been active this past year and contributed significantly. Pi Tau Sigma mechanical engineering honor society was led by Mary Kathryn Thompson (president); Carla Pienknagura (vice-president); Veronica Garcia (secretary); Federico Gutierrez (treasurer); and, Maria-Louisa Izamis (tutoring program coordinator). ASME student chapter was led by Collins Ward (president), Mary Kathryn Thompson (vice-president), Alex Johnson (secretary), Jen Blundo (treasurer); Marius Hauser (new member recruitment).

Graduate Program

Our graduate program continues to be strong with a total of 359 students. Of the 176 students in the Master's program, 31 percent were foreign, 25 percent were women and 10 percent were minorities. Of the 183 students in the doctoral program 59 percent were foreign, 11 percent were women and three percent were minorities. Our students were supported by 241 research assistantships, 25 teaching assistantships, 18 NSF fellowships, four DOD fellowships and 69 other fellowships.

Graduate Enrollment


This past year 641 students applied for admission to our graduate program; 28 percent of them were offered admission and 57 percent of whom matriculated.

The following honors and prizes were awarded to our graduate students. The departmental service award was given to Katie Lilienkamp. Aimee Angel and Ephrat Most received the Meredith Kamm memorial award for outstanding performance.  Carl G. Sontheimer prize for innovation and creativity was awarded to Jason Melvin.

The student organization of ME 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. The officers of MEGAWomen were Aimee Angel and Ephrat Most (co-presidents).

Faculty Notes

Tenure was granted to Professor David Wallace. Professor Seth Lloyd was promoted from associate to full professor. Dr. Hermano Igo Krebs was promoted from research scientist to principal research scientist. Dr. Mandayam Srinivasan was promoted from principal research scientist to senior research scientist.

Gang Chen joined the department as an associate professor of mechanical engineering. He received his BE and ME from Huazhong University of Science and Technology in 1984 and 1987, respectively. He received his PhD from the University of California at Berkeley in 1993. He was an assistant professor at Duke University and an associate professor at UC Los Angeles before coming to MIT. His principal fields of interest are heat transfer, thermoelectrics, and micro-electro-mechanical systems.

George Haller joined the department as an associate professor of mechanical engineering. He received his masters from the Technical University of Budapest in 1989 and his PhD from the California Institute of Technology in 1993. Before joining MIT, he was an associate professor at Brown University. His principal fields of interest are nonlinear dynamical systems, chaos, nonlinear oscillations, transport and mixing, and turbulence.

Simona Socrate joined the department as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering. She received her laurea in nuclear engineering and doctorate in energetics from the University of Rome, Italy in 1984 and 1991, respectively. She also received a masters and PhD in mechanical engineering from MIT in 1990 and 1995, respectively. Her principal fields of interest are the mechanical behaviors of materials—the development and numerical implementation of constitutive models, biomaterials and heterogeneous material systems.

Professors David Cochran and Sunny Siu resigned from the department.

Professor James Keck was elected a fellow of the National Academy of Engineering. Professor Gang Chen has been awarded a Guggenheim fellowship. Professor Elias Gyftopoulos was awarded ASME's Edward F. Obert award for an outstanding paper on thermodynamics. Professor David Gordon Wilson and his high-tech start-up Wilson TurboPower Inc. won the grand prize in the National Social Venture competition. Professor Steve Dubowsky was awarded ASME's machine design award and elected an IEEE fellow. Professor Nam P. Suh was elected a life fellow of ASME. Professor Harry Asada was elected a fellow of ASME. Dr. Anuradha Annaswamy was elected a fellow of IEEE. Professors John Brisson and Ernest Cravalho received the Baker Foundation award for undergraduate education. Professor Sanjay Sarma received the Keenan award for innovation in undergraduate education. Professor David Trumper received the Ruth and Joel Spira award for teaching. Professor Derek Rowell received the Soderberg award for service. Dr. Rajesh Jugulum, a postdoctoral associate, received the Armand V. Feigenbaum medal from the American Society for Quality.

The following members of staff were also recognized: the Caloggero award for service went to Maureen Lynch; and three of the School of Engineering's Infinite Mile awards went to Debra Blanchard, Dick Fenner, and Peggy Garlick.

Rohan Abeyaratne
Department Head
Berg Professor of Mechanical Engineering

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


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