Pitt | Swanson Engineering

The Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science (MEMS) is the largest in the school in terms of students and faculty. The department has core strengths in the traditional areas of bioengineering, manufacturing, microsystems technology, smart structures and materials, computational fluid and solid dynamics, and energy systems research. Key focus is reflective of national trends, which are vying toward the microscale and nanoscale systems level.

The Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science houses ABET -accredited mechanical engineering, engineering science and materials science and engineering programs that provide the solid fundamentals, critical thinking, and inventive spark that fire up our graduates as they design the future. The department graduates approximately 90 mechanical and materials science engineers each year, with virtually 100% of being placed in excellent careers with industry and research facilities around the globe.

The department houses faculty who are world-renowned academicians and accessible teachers, individuals of substance who seek to inspire and encourage their students to succeed. The department also has access to more than 20 laboratory facilities that enhance the learning process through first-rate technology and hands-on experience.

That experience is integrated into every aspect of the department. Events such as the SAE Formula Car Program add to students' real-world knowledge; each year, students construct their own vehicle and compete with students from other universities nationwide and internationally on the strength of their design and racing. The Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science also is involved in the Cooperative Education (Co-Op) Program, bringing students together with industry for three terms of professional work.

Read our latest newsletter below


Students Address Posture in Parkinson’s

Bioengineering, MEMS, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (January 16, 2018) … Many of us have been told to stand up straight but may take for granted the ability to easily correct our posture. For those with Parkinson’s disease, postural awareness can diminish, and they often struggle with this characteristic slouched symptom. A group of Swanson School of Engineering students took a stance and addressed this medical issue with a device that promotes good posture, and were recognized for their innovation at the School’s biannual Design Expo. Posture Protect was created by bioengineering juniors, Tyler Bray and Jake Meadows; bioengineering senior, Raj Madhani; mechanical engineering senior, Benji Pollock; and mechanical engineering junior, Gretchen Sun. The poor posture experienced by individuals with Parkinson’s disease can limit mobility, impact gait, affect balance, and cause neck or back pain,” Meadows explained. “All of these symptoms combine to ultimately decrease independence, lower confidence, and negatively impact their quality of life by exacerbating existing challenges.” According to the team, Posture Protect is an easy-to-use, supportive posture quality detection and alert system that provides tactile feedback when bad posture persists. “The device increases postural awareness by determining the position of the user’s thoracic spine using three different sensors; when poor posture persists, vibrating motors provide gentle tactile feedback to notify the user of their change in posture,” Meadows said. Components of Posture Protect. The team performed extensive user outreach and testing, culminating in feedback from more than 60 individuals with Parkinson’s disease that indicated a need for such a device. Madhani said, “Our research found that of the people with Parkinson’s interviewed, 95 percent struggled with posture on a daily basis, and 90 percent of those people could correct their posture if they were reminded.” To further refine their device, the students took their testing to a local boxing club, Fit4Boxing, that offers strength training classes for individuals with Parkinson’s disease. “We visited the gym six times and tested five different iterations of our design, making modifications each time based on feedback received and data collected,” said Bray. With results in hand, the team presented Posture Protect at the Swanson School of Engineering Fall 2017 Design Expo, where they took first place in the “Art of Making” category and won “Best Overall Project.” The group intends to continue work on the project. “We plan to engage in longer-term user testing, incorporate Bluetooth into the device for setting customization, and code a smartphone application for posture tracking,” said Meadows. “Ultimately, the project's goal is to help patients stand straight and stand proud in the face of Parkinson’s disease.” ###


MEMS alumna recognized by Society of Women Engineers for impact on space exploration

MEMS, Diversity

PITTSBURGH (December 20, 2017) ... Alumna Theresa (Terri) Taylor was recognized by the Society of Women Engineers this fall with the Resnik Challenger Medal for "For advances in spacecraft momentum control systems; for setting high standards for critical parts and systems; and for establishing a world-class testing lab for bearings used in spacecraft." Ms. Taylor, senior engineering manager for Honeywell Aerospace, earned here bachelor's in mechanical engineering from the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering in 1982. Established in 1986 to honor SWE’s Dr. Judith A. Resnik, NASA Mission Specialist on the ill-fated Challenger space shuttle flight on January 28, 1986. It is awarded only as merited for visionary contributions to space exploration to individuals with at least ten (10) years of service. This award acknowledges a specific engineering breakthrough or achievement that has expanded the horizons of space exploration. The Resnik Challenger Medal is not presented annually, and was last awarded in 2013. According to an announcement from Honeywell, "This award acknowledges Taylor's achievement of expanding space exploration through her invention of the application of spin-bearing technology for attitude control systems that steer, stabilize and point a spacecraft. Her contributions to the technology over the past 27 years have provided reliable, longer-life spacecraft. From the Space Station to imagery satellite to weather satellites, along with undisclosed missions of national importance, Taylor's impact cannot be overstated. Her passion has helped shape the way space is explored, and Taylor is just as passionate about helping to encourage and mentor young female engineers." The Resnick Challenger Medal was presented as part SWE's annual award program which recognizes innovators and leaders who are supporting the enrichment and advancement of women in the engineering community from industry to education. SWE award recipients include professionals and collegiates from influential businesses, corporations and universities across the globe. “The men and women recognized this year have made significant contributions to the engineering community,” said Jonna Gerken, president of SWE. “They are leaders, inspiring the current and future generation of STEM professionals, and paving the way to empowerment for women engineers everywhere.” This year’s award recipients were recognized at WE17, the world’s largest conference and career fair for women engineers, Oct. 26-28, 2017 in Austin, Texas. The conference gathers over 11,000 professional and collegiate men and women for professional development, education and networking. ###


Chancellor Gallagher presents Associate Dean Minking Chyu with Distinguished Service Professor medallion and appointment


PITTSBURGH (December 13, 2017) … University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Patrick Gallagher and Provost Patricia Beeson this morning formally presented the Swanson School of Engineering's Minking Chyu with a medallion recognizing his appointment as Distinguished Service Professor. The presentation was held during a virtual Joint Management Committee meeting between representatives at Pitt and Sichuan University. "It is our custom in the academy to present a medallion to those who are propelling their disciplines forward, and have made exceptional scholarly contributions in their field," Chancellor Gallagher said at the ceremony. "With his remarkable achievements, it is easy to see why Minking’s colleagues and peers have recommended him for this appointment. This is the highest recognition that our University can bestow upon a faculty member, and I am proud to celebrate Minking as one of these exceptional scholars." Dr. Chyu is currently the Leighton and Mary Orr Chair Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, Associate Dean of International Initiatives, and the inaugural Dean of the Sichuan University-Pittsburgh Institute (SCUPI) in China. After officially opening its doors in fall 2015, SCUPI has already grown freshman enrollment from 100 to 160 students this past year. There are currently 22 faculty and staff members and a new 300,000 square-foot building is currently under construction. Dr. Chyu received his PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of Minnesota. Before joining the University of Pittsburgh in 2000, he was a faculty member at Carnegie Mellon University for 13 years. His primary research interests are in thermal and material issues relating to energy, power, and aero propulsion systems. Dr. Chyu is a recipient of four NASA Certificates of Recognition for his contributions on the US space shuttle main engineer program. He has served as an Air Force Summer Research Fellow, Department of Energy Oak Ridge Research Fellow, and DOE Advanced-Turbine-System Faculty Fellow. He is also a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Associate Fellow of American Institute of Aerospace and Aeronautics (AIAA), and a member of the Scientific Council of the International Center of Heat and Mass Transfer (ISHMT). Dr. Chyu has published more than 300 technical papers in archived journals, books, and conference proceedings. Above: Chancellor Gallagher presents Dr. Chyu with the Distinguished Service Professor Medallion ###


ChemE and MEMS students are big winners at 2017 Blast Furnace

Chemical & Petroleum, MEMS, Student Profiles

The problems a few dozen Pitt students wrestled with this semester weren’t in a homework assignment or an exam. They were often intensely personal problems, the solutions to which they had formed into the kernel of an idea for a new product or service. To nurture those ideas they entered the 6th cohort of the Pitt Blast Furnace student idea accelerator. The winning team as determined by the judges was DisSolves, the brainchild of Jared Raszewski, an undergraduate in chemical and petroleum engineering. He was joined by Emelyn Jaros, a mechanical engineering undergraduate. Raszewski said he is a regular user of protein powders and was frustrated by the process of measuring and mixing the protein drinks. Read their solution and more at the Innovation Institute.
Mike Yeomans, Innovation Institute

Pitt engineering undergraduate Joanna Rivero receives scholarship from Universities Space Research Association

MEMS, Diversity, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (November 28, 2017) … Joanna R. Rivero, a senior at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, was one of six recipients of the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) annual USRA Scholarship Award. USRA awards scholarships to undergraduate students who tackle challenging scientific questions in the areas of space research and exploration, particularly astrophysics and astronomy and create technologies and solutions that will positively influence people’s lives. Ms. Rivero, a native of Miami, Fla., received the John R. Sevier Memorial Scholarship Award which recognizes the former Acting Director of the Lunar and Planetary Institute and as Deputy Director of the Division of Space Life Sciences and honors his dedication to education and advancements in aerospace technology. She was nominated by Matthew M. Barry, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, and was among 112 eligible applicants for this year’s awards. Alyssa A. Brown, a Swanson School senior from Glenn Dale, Md., received an honorable mention as one of 13 finalists. According to URSA, a panel of judges well recognized in their respective fields selects the recipients and the competition represents the rigor expected of a science competition. The selection committee consists of university faculty members in science and engineering disciplines from among the top tier universities. “The URSA is synonymous with NASA and aerospace research, and this is a prestigious scholarship for Joanna as well as a great honor for Alyssa,” noted Peyman Givi, Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Pitt. “I’m proud of the students we nominated for this year’s class, and appreciate the support that URSA provides to our undergraduates.” “We at USRA are extremely proud of students who receive these awards,” said Dr. Jeffrey Isaacson, President and Chief Executive Officer, USRA. “They demonstrate great promise in areas such as astrophysics, planetary exploration, data utilization, fluid dynamics and biomechanics. But it’s not just their research that makes them stand out –the award recipients are also selected based on their leadership potential and initiative. We congratulate these talented students and wish them a brilliant future.” About USRA Founded in 1969 under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences at the request of the U.S. Government, the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) is a nonprofit corporation chartered to advance space-related science, technology and engineering. USRA operates scientific institutes and facilities, and conducts other major research and educational programs, under Federal funding. USRA engages the university community and employs in-house scientific leadership, innovative research and development, and project management expertise. More information about USRA is available at www.usra.edu. ###

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