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Letter from the chair

Ken Goodson

Dear Mechanical Engineering Alumni and Friends,

We are coming up on our next major strategic planning exercise in the department, which will involve an external review by leaders in the mechanical engineering discipline throughout the world. We are fortunate to have very successfully moved forward with plans identified through this process nearly five years ago, including the hiring of several stellar new faculty in areas ranging from telerobotics and energy to the mechanics of bird flight. While the details remain to be determined, it is likely that our next five years will focus, among other topics, on fostering the educational activities and opportunities available for our students.

The goal will be to enhance the quality of education we provide to the next generation of mechanical engineering professionals and ensure our strong standing in the engineering and scientific communities.

I would like to offer very warm thanks and give much credit to Fritz Prinz, who stepped down as chair at the end of August 2013 after a decade of service. He has made a broad variety of strong and lasting contributions to the department over this time. We will miss Fritz’s vision in his role as chair, and I have been very fortunate to have served with him as vice chair during most of this period.

New faculty

We are pleased to introduce our two newest assistant professors who were identified in last year’s junior faculty searches. W. Matthias Ihme joined us in February 2013 in the field of theoretical and computational fluid dynamics. Prior to his Stanford appointment, Matthias served as an assistant professor at the University of Michigan in the Aerospace Engineering Department. He received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Stanford (2007). Matthias has already established himself as an independent research leader in the areas of reacting flow physics and modeling, highly dynamic flames, combustion generated sound, and optimization using reduced order models. His research is critical to advanced energy generation and transportation technologies.

Ovijit Chaudhuri joined our biomechanical engineering program in August, after serving as a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard. He holds a PhD in bioengineering from the University of California at Berkeley (2009). Ovijit’s interests in cell mechanics, mechanics of polymer networks and cancer biology open up exciting new areas for biomechanics research within our department, and he will considerably strengthen our activities in these areas.

In addition, we are delighted to announce the arrival of two senior faculty members. Hai Wang is a leading mid-career U.S. researcher in the emerging field of reactive heterogeneous systems relevant to energy conversion (primarily combustion). Previously, he served on the faculty at the University of Delaware and the University of Southern California. At USC, he held the Northrop Chair in Engineering in the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering Department. Hai joined our High Temperature Gasdynamics Laboratory (HTGL) in mid-August and is ideally suited to address critical departmental needs in maintaining international leadership in the study of reacting flows, for which HTGL has a tradition of excellence. His research interests, which include both theory and experiments, complement those of our current HTGL faculty.

In June 2014, Arun Majumdar will join us as the inaugural holder of the Jay Precourt Provostial Chair, which will support a joint appointment as a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and as a senior fellow in the Precourt Institute for Energy. He also will have a courtesy appointment in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Arun held a faculty position at UC Berkeley and was the Maynard Chair from July 2003 to October 2009, after serving on the faculty at UC Santa Barbara and Arizona State University. In addition, he was an Associate Laboratory Director for Energy and Environment at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. From October 2009 until June 2012, Arun served as the founding director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) and was the Acting Under Secretary of Energy from March 2011 until June 2012. He is currently Vice President for Energy at Google, Inc.

Faculty achievements

We are proud to announce that for the second year in a row we received a number one ranking from the U.S. News and World Report survey of top graduate schools for mechanical engineering. This is an achievement that is owed to the efforts and vision of our entire faculty. In addition, we would like to highlight some individual faculty awards.

During the past year, Juan Santiago was named a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineering; Kenneth Goodson was named a Fellow of the IEEE and received the IEEE Thermi Award; Tom Bowman, Charbel Farhat and Eric Shaqfeh were elected to the National Academy of Engineering; and, Gianluca Iaccarino became an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Parviz Moin presented the 29th Annual Alexander Graham Christie Lecture at Johns Hopkins University. Ronald Hanson gave the Edison Lecture at Notre Dame University, was named by the Applied Optics Journal to be the 16th Most-Published Author Past 50 years, and was a co-winner of the Society of Automobile Engineer’s Arch T. Colwell Merit Award. Thomas Andriacchi received the Arthritis Foundation Award for contributions to osteoarthritis research, the William H. Harris, MD Award from the Orthopaedic Research Society, and was the Distinguished Israel Pollak Lecturer for the Technion Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa.

Allison Okamura won the Medicine Meets Virtual Reality (MMVR) Best Poster Award and Mark Cutkosky was selected as the recipient of the “Best Bio-Inspired Paper” at IEEE RoboBio2012 (with Ph.D. student Barrett Heyneman). Fritz Prinz received the Wilhelm Exner Medal of the Austrian “Gewerbeverein,” co-awarded also to Robert S. Langer (MIT) and Theodor W. Hänsch (Nobel laureate and Director of the Max Planck-Institute for Quantum Optics), by the Austrian Federal Minister for Science and Research and the President of Austria.

Stanford’s Provost awarded five-year teaching fellowships to John Eaton and Sheri Sheppard. John was appointed as the Martin Family University Fellow in Undergraduate Education. Sheri was reappointed as the Burton J. and Deedee McMurtry University Fellow in Undergraduate Education. John and Sheri were selected for these awards because of their excellence in teaching and for their commitment to undergraduate education.

Eric Darve received Stanford’s Kenneth and Barbara Oshman Faculty Scholar Award and Adrian Lew was given Stanford’s Lee Otterson Faculty Scholar Award. In addition, Adrian’s research team created a Braille keyboard that received an honorable mention of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman’s Awards for Advancement in Accessibility.

Sindy Tang and Xiaolin Zheng were recipients of the 3M Nontenured Faculty Award. Xiaolin also won the TechConnect National Innovation Award for the “Peel-and-Stick Process: Fabrication process for thin film electronics on universal substrates” and was named to MIT Technology Review’s annual TR35 list, which recognizes the world’s top innovators under age 35, spanning biotechnology, computer and electronics hardware and software, energy, the web, and nanotechnology, among other emerging fields.

Gianluca Iaccarino and a team of Stanford faculty, including Eric Darve, John Eaton, Sanjiva Lele, Ali Mani and Parviz Moin from our department, recently won a new Multidisciplinary Simulation Center under the NNSA Predictive Science Academic Alliance Program II (PSAAP II). This research is at the forefront of solar conversion technology and sets a new bar with its highly challenging set of multiphysics simulations for heat and fluid transport.

Student news

Admissions to our graduate programs for the 2013-14 academic year were once again successful. In fall 2013, we enrolled 141 new students (35% women): 7 PhD and 124 MS students in mechanical engineering, and 10 MS students in product design. Thanks to Ellen Kuhl and her admissions committee, as well as departmental student services staff, for their efforts in recruiting this outstanding class.

In June 2013, we graduated 88 undergraduates (including mechanical engineering, product design and biomechanical engineering majors), 105 master’s students and 18 doctoral students (plus 19 additional doctoral students who “walked,” anticipating summer graduation).

Facilities update

We are on track for a complete remodel of buildings 520 and 524, involving an exciting, open-air architecture and important new space for faculty and student offices and student teaching laboratories. Building 520 is currently the home of our Thermosciences Group and Building 524 was the former location of the Civil Engineering Fluid Mechanics Laboratory, newly reassigned to Mechanical Engineering. The two buildings, combined, will house faculty and students from the areas of mechanics, thermosciences and biomechanical engineering, as well as undergraduate teaching laboratories. Construction will be staged over 18 months starting in winter 2014, with a temporary move for current Building 520 faculty into the renovated 524 portion, followed by project end in summer 2015. We look forward to the continued support from our alumni and friends to realize the transformation of this part of the campus.

With best wishes,

Kenneth E. Goodson
Professor and Robert Bosch Chair

Department of Mechanical Engineering