MIT Reports to the President 1994-95

Department of Mechanical Engineering

The Department of Mechanical Engineering is committed to two major goals: to prepare young men and women to be leaders in their chosen fields and to make an impact on knowledge, technology and society through education, scholarship and research. The faculty, students, and staff share these common goals and have done their best to achieve them. We have strengthened the disciplinary areas and initiated new research and educational activities in interdisciplinary areas to prepare the Department for the next millennium. We have added outstanding new faculty to complement the talents of those who have been recognized as the best mechanical engineering faculty in the country. We have renovated our teaching facilities with the generous support of our distinguished alumni/ae. We have adopted a new undergraduate curriculum and begun the soul searching process of redesigning our graduate curriculum to place it at the forefront of the next century. Our commitment to the development of hypermedia has generated exciting opportunities to improve the learning process. We have also worked to broaden the perspectives of our students through their exposure to distinguished alumni/ae and industry. Some of these efforts are beginning to bear fruit.

Unlike pure science, the relative importance of specific technology evolves with time and so, too, must an engineering education. History reveals this evolution. In the early 20th century, for example, this country's dominant industries were the automotive and machinery industries. These industries changed rapidly as mechanical technology advanced. In this environment, talented mechanical engineers prospered. In the last few decades technological growth has decelerated in some of these industries, and other factors such as financing, marketing, and law have become increasingly important and have begun to play major roles in these industries. Not only has the technology changed, but more importantly, the pre-requisites to be an industrial leader have also changed. Hence, mechanical engineering disciplines have taken on broader technological approaches. This is why we need to broaden the perspectives of our students without sacrificing the rigor of an engineering education.

The importance of the mechanical engineering field in industry is re-emerging. This is occurring because we need to increase productivity in the manufacturing industry; design and manufacture better products, processes, and systems; make precise machines for various industries, including the semiconductor industry; develop energy-efficient and environmentally acceptable transportation systems; deliver cost effective and better health care; and develop nanotechnologies for the information technology industry. Advances in most aspects of manufacturing rely on mechanical engineering expertise: health care advances will be through systems solutions involving disciplines as far ranging as cellular biology to the use of micro-surgical robots and micro-submarines that deliver medication to the specific site; transportation will become more efficient and pollution free; longer lasting portable electric power sources will be dependent on our ability to manipulate micro-electromechanical devices; and standard textbooks will be replaced or augmented with an interactive software system such as hypermedia.

The traditional disciplinary fields of mechanical engineering are also undergoing changes while making major strides. Design, a core discipline of mechanical engineering and pivotal in all synthesis related disciplines, is emerging as one of the most exciting fields of research. Mechanics and materials are dealing with new issues in molecular biology, electronics, and manufacturing. Research in basic combustion is vital to our quest for ultra low emission engines. Environmental solutions depend on creative use of fluid mechanics and electrohydrodynamics in addition to other disciplines. The field of control and computers is generating new paradigms while the field of manufacturing is beginning to acquire the foundations of a discipline.

Outstanding engineers, scientists, and applied mathematicians who can take us to the next century have joined the Department as new faculty members. In fact, more than a third of the Department's faculty have joined the Department since 1991. Our goal has been to identify those people who can make major contributions to education, knowledge, and technology. Our criterion in hiring new faculty members has been to strengthen the two ends of the research spectrum: the basic disciplinary areas and the technology innovation areas. We want to play a key role in generating new fundamental knowledge that can become the basis for future knowledge generation and technology innovation. At the same time, we want to create new and innovative technologies that can help humanity.

The Department is committed to interdisciplinary education and research programs, many of which are led by our renowned faculty members. Professor Warren Seering has just put together a team to establish a center for competitive product development. Professor Alex Slocum is working with Professors David Trumper, John Lienhard, and David Cochran to develop a strong program in precision engineering. Professor Ian Hunter, a renowned biomedical engineer, has begun to build major activities in biomedical and life systems area. Professor Emanuel Sachs has been expanding his work on 3-D Printing with faculty members from two other departments. Professor Jung-Hoon Chun is collaborating with colleagues in nuclear engineering on a new idea that can identify the solidification front, which should increase the productivity of integrated steel mills. Professors Mary Boyce, David E. Hardt and Dr. Andre Sharon are currently collaborating in the field of manufacturing. Professor Ali Argon leads collaborative efforts on materials with many colleagues outside the Department. Professors Anuradha Annaswamy and Ahmed Ghoniem are working together on controlling the combustion process in gas turbines. Professor Nam Suh is presently collaborating with surgeons at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in the area of tribology. In addition, many of our faculty members are influential, either directly or indirectly, with MIT's Sloan School of Management. For example, Professors Seering, Kevin Otto, Don Clausing, and Dr. Anna Thornton are working together with Sloan School faculty on structured methods for introducing new products to market. These are just some of the examples of the types of interdisciplinary projects and broad fields of interest in which our faculty is deeply involved. This cross-disciplinary interface between traditional disciplines and non-traditional disciplines of mechanical engineering is generating new intellectual opportunities. Our goal is to promote greater intellectual synergism among the faculty, to provide mechanisms for collegiality among a wider circle of colleagues, and to recognize and reward contributions made by the faculty both in disciplinary and systems teaching and research.

The Department has, once again, been rated as the best mechanical engineering department in the United States. The Department has earned this distinction through its ability to attract the best students and faculty, to respond to changing societal and national needs, and to lead the profession with innovative ideas and programs in education and research. Over the years, it has created and established strong programs in energy, transportation, information technology, biomedical engineering, manufacturing, and environmental engineering. The Department's high standards of excellence in the basic disciplines of mechanical engineering, i.e., solid mechanics, fluid mechanics, thermal sciences, materials, control, systems, and design, are the building blocks for these achievements. In addition, it has expanded the traditional definitions of mechanical engineering through its innovative approach to solving new problems. This tradition of pioneering new scientific and technological frontiers, while remaining firmly grounded in fundamental engineering science, is alive and well in the Department. Students' response to the Department has been most gratifying. We continue to be one of the largest departments in MIT with more than ten percent of the Institute's undergraduate and nearly ten percent of the graduate student population.

In addition to examining formal instructional programs, the Department has maintained its initiatives to enhance the learning and cultural environment for all of its students. Our goal is to expose students to contemporary technological and societal issues and to provide them with broader outlook on their role in society. This is done through the Distinguished Alumni/ae Lecture Series, sophomore picnics, semi-annual letters to undergraduate and graduate students from the Department head, and Departmental support of student activities.

The Department strives to provide a first-rate learning environment for women students and under-represented minority students. We have more women faculty than ever. However, the Department has not been successful in hiring more underrepresented minority faculty members. We need to do better in this area and are wholeheartedly seeking to find and attract more women and underrepresented minorities to our faculty.

A major effort to develop and improve the facilities and equipment of teaching and research laboratories in the Department has been undertaken. The newly renovated Pappalardo Laboratory has not only changed the undergraduate education but it has also has lifted the spirits and outlook of our students and faculty. The generosity of Mr. and Mrs. A. Neil Pappalardo has been matched only by the transformation in the minds of our students as they engage in the creative processes that occur in the Pappalardo Laboratory. The AMP Mechanical Behavior of Materials Laboratory, which was dedicated in April of AY 1993-94, has been equally important to the education of the brightest young minds the Department attracts.

In order to support research projects and initiatives that expand the traditional bounds of mechanical engineering, external fund raising activities have been pursued. The Department needs to create more endowed laboratories, chaired professorships and graduate fellowships. We are still working on to create "Renaissance" professorships that will enable gifted faculty members to change their research fields by combining their old fields with a new discipline so that we can create new intellectual and technological frontiers. Our ultimate goal is to name the Department after a major donor -- someone who will endow the Department with a gift of $50 million.



The overall educational objective of the Department has not changed in 40 years: to educate students to become leaders in industry, education, research, and public service. To this end the Department provides a strong disciplinary foundation, opportunities to learn interdisciplinary subjects, experience in solving contemporary scientific and technological problems, and intellectual exposure to socioeconomic and political issues.

The cornerstone of the Department's educational plan is the strong interaction between distinguished faculty and highly motivated, intelligent students. The goal of undergraduate education is to provide a broad educational background in mechanical engineering to prepare students for changing technological opportunities and societal needs. The graduate program is designed to educate professionals and scholars in the field of mechanical engineering.

Undergraduate Programs

Degree Programs and Enrollment

The Department's undergraduate program leads to the S.B. in Mechanical Engineering (Course II) which is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) or the S.B. in Mechanical Engineering without specification (Course II-A), also ABET-accredited. Course II-B (the Engineering Internship Program) leads to the S.B. and S.M. in Mechanical Engineering with industrial experience as an integral part of the program.

Course II-A is intended for those students who wish to design a specialized program coupling such areas as biomedical engineering, management, or energy policy with mechanical engineering. Approximately 47 students are enrolled in Course II-A. Course II-B averages about 25 students each year. Currently about half of the sophomores entering mechanical engineering continue to a graduate degree.

The Department enrollment continues at levels comparable to those of the past few years, with about 446 undergraduates at the end of the spring term. The enrollment included 123 women and 104 underrepresented minorities.

In 1994-95, the Department awarded 135 Course II degrees, 18 Course II-A degrees, and 13 Course II-B degrees.

Undergraduate Curriculum

Under the leadership of the Undergraduate Curriculum Development Committee (Professors Boyce, Chun, Woodie Flowers, David Gossard, Peter Griffith, John Heywood [co-chair], David Parks [co-chair], Carl Peterson, Sachs, Seering and Jean-Jacques Slotine) the Department has adopted a new undergraduate curriculum. Implementation of the curriculum will start in AY 1995-96. The core of the new program consists of four major required subjects that last two semesters each. It also includes courses on engineering mathematics, basic mechanical engineering tools, and measurement and instrumentation. The remainder of the program consists of engineering elective courses, a project course, and a required course on the product engineering process.

The newly re-organized Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, under the chairmanship of Professor Heywood, is now developing course materials for the new curriculum.

Professor Slocum has modified the format and mechanics of the Introduction to Design (Course 2.70). He has developed a relationship with Briggs & Stratton whereby every student receives a lawn mower engine to take apart and reassemble. He has given the upper-class students more responsibility in conducting the design contest. Student response has been outstanding.

Professor Chun has taken over the popular Management in Engineering (Course 2.96) with great success. The popularity of this subject has been increasing with more than 100 students registered.

Professors Otto and Douglas Hart are creating an introductory course on the machine shop and computer tools. Students will analyze and fabricate a miniature Stirling engine.

Professor Anthony Patera and Dr. Nishi Sonwalker have been actively developing the hypermedia. Professor James Fay is also participating in developing the hypermedia for fluid mechanics and extending it to heat transfer and thermodynamics. The faculty of the Department has strongly endorsed the project.

Mr. Alex d'Arbeloff, Senior Lecturer and CEO of Teradyne, Inc., has taught management of engineering enterprise to graduate students with great response. The teaching of such a topic by an active industrial executive is an important attempt to generate future industrial leaders.


The Undergraduate Program is administered through the Undergraduate Office. The office is supervised by Professors Peter Griffith (Chair, Undergraduate Committee) and Derek Rowell (Undergraduate Officer). Professor Bora Mikic acts as Scheduling Officer. Together, they are responsible for organizing and coordinating the Undergraduate Program and the scheduling and staffing of undergraduate subjects. The Senior class Registration Officer is Professor Griffith, the Junior class Registration Officer is Professor Peterson, and the Sophomore class Registration Officer is Professor Lallit Anand. Professor Thomas Sheridan is the Advisor for Course II-A, and Professor Griffith is the advisor for Course II-B. Ms. Peggy Garlick is the Undergraduate Programs Administrator.

Student Organizations

The Student Chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, under the leadership of its officers Dean L. Franck, President; Warren K. Sze, Vice President and Secretary; and Carmen A Smith, Treasurer, has continued to develop student professional activities in the Department. Professor Igor Paul serves as the Faculty Advisor to the 124 members.

Black ME is an organization of students which provides a supportive environment for minorities in the Department. Membership continues to be strong with about forty students. The present leadership comprises Lisa Bailey, President; Marc Graham, Vice President; Nyeka Mobisson, Secretary; and Warren Marcus, Treasurer. Professor Nam P. Suh is the Faculty Advisor.

Pi Tau Sigma, the mechanical engineering honorary society, continues its tradition of fostering student-faculty relations and serving the Department through its course and instructor evaluations, and honoring newly-elected members with a spring banquet. This year, they also worked as Undergraduate Assistants in teaching 2.70, the Introduction to Design class. The organization is led by Amber Dudley, President; Ernie Hsin, Vice President; Gordon Lewis and Gaurav Rohatgi, Secretaries; and Clara Yang, Treasurer. Professor Slocum serves as Faculty Advisor.

The Student Chapter of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers has as President Alan Duros. Professor Timothy Gutowski is the Faculty Advisor.

Graduate Programs

Degree Programs and Enrollment

The Department offers the S.M. degree in Mechanical Engineering, the undesignated S.M. degree, the degree of Mechanical Engineer, and the doctoral degree (Ph.D./Sc.D.) in Mechanical Engineering. The undesignated S.M. degree allows students to pursue special interdisciplinary programs as well as programs which are more specialized than those satisfying the designated degree requirements.

Graduate enrollment is 397 full-time students. As of the fall term, the enrollment included 39 women and 7 underrepresented minorities. In September 1994, 208 new students were admitted from 697 applicants, with 102 students registering.

In the fall term, 94 percent of all graduate students received support from the Department, MIT funds, fellowships, government, or industry. Of those students, 70 percent were supported by the Department through research and teaching assistantships.

In 1994-95 the department awarded 107 S.M. degrees (of which 2 were combined S.B./S.M. degrees). 39 Ph.D., 3 Sc.D., and 2 Mechanical Engineer degrees were awarded.

Graduate Curriculum Development

Professor Argon, Chair of the Committee on Professional Graduate Education, and Committee members Professors Haruhiko Asada, Chun, Wai K. Chen, Flowers, Hardt, Hunter and Ain Sonin are reviewing the graduate curriculum. The goal is to develop a new advanced graduate degree programs and/ or curriculum to serve the needs of the students who intend to lead an industrial career.


The graduate program is administered through the Graduate Office under the supervision of Professors Sonin (Chair, Graduate Committee and Registration Officer) and Rohan Abeyaratne (Graduate Admissions Officer). Ms. Leslie Regan is the Graduate Programs Administrator.


Many students in the Department were recognized for academic excellence, engineering creativity, and community service.

Carl G. Sontheimer Prizes were awarded to Mathew J. Van Doren.

The Reinhold Rudenberg Memorial Prize was awarded to Andrew M. Carnell and Patrick S. Rowe.

Meredith Kamm Memorial Award was awarded to Susan L. Ipri.

Marc M. Graham, Wayne Lam and Donna Scott were awarded the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. Award.

Whitelaw Prizes were awarded to Jon H. Appleby and Michael Schmidt-Lange.

Luis de Florez Awards were presented to David G. Rodrigues, Steven A. Laramie, and Douglas A. Simpson.

Best Ethics Scenario Award was presented to Thomas A. Lawrence and Caroline Pan.

The Department Service Award was awarded to Amber N. Dudley.

The Wunsch Foundation Silent Hoist and Crane Awards were presented to Jonathan D. Albert, Brian D. Hoffman, Joachim Ogland, and Caroline Pan.

Jesse C. Darley received the Malcolm G. Kispert Award.


MIT Reports to the President 1994-95