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



Nov
13
2017

Printing a Better Actuator, Actually

MEMS

PITTSBURGH (November 13, 2017) … One technology uses magnetic fields to generate mechanical work. The other enhances the magnetic properties of 3D-printed materials. Combined, they could lead to efficient, economical production of magnetic actuators used in everything from sensors, robotics, and mechanical devices to power generation. An award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) has researchers at the University of Pittsburgh playing matchmaker to determine if this magnetic union will attract or repel. The NSF awarded Markus Chmielus , assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, $296,169 to research how magnetically-enhanced binder jet printing affects the microstructure and properties of magnetic shape-memory alloys. Dr. Steven Ludwick, who works at motion-control product manufacturer Aerotech in Pittsburgh, Pa., is Co-principal Investigator. “Magnetic-field-enhanced binder jet printing is a type of additive manufacturing that uses a magnetic field to align powder particles during printing,” says Dr. Chmielus. “This process will enhance structural and magnetic anisotropy—a property that defines how much the material will react to magnetic activation.” Magnetic shape-memory actuators naturally change shape in the presence of a changing magnetic field. The actuator will remain in its shape when the field is removed but can be reversed by changing the direction of the magnetic field. This natural shape-memory effect can also act as the power source, which is very beneficial for designing small parts without heavy onboard batteries or devices that need to be operated remotely. Though they may be convenient, they’re also expensive. “Currently, the best performing magnetic shape-memory alloys are made out of single crystals,” explains Dr. Chmielus. “These single crystals are rather difficult and costly to make. With magnetic-field-enhanced binder jetting, we aim to improve the properties of magnetic shape-memory alloys that are not single crystals but made out of powder, so that they reach near single crystal properties.” Through the process of layering powder and a binding liquid, binder jet printing could lower the price of magnetic shape-memory alloys and open up new possibilities for magnetic actuators in manufacturing, robotics, medical devices engineering, and a variety of other industries. Magnetic Shape Memory powder used for Additive Manufacturing “We are mainly focused on research that will establishes binder jet printing as a superior manufacturing technique for these functional materials. If this kind of AM is possible, more intricately-shaped actuators can be designed for things like robotic hands, parts grippers, or foldable solar panels. They could complete more complex actuation sequences and be molded to perfectly grasp their target objects,” says Dr. Chmielus. The study, “GOALI: From Powder to Functional Actuators: Binder Jet Printing of Magnetic Shape Memory Alloys,” is part of the NSF Grant Opportunities for Academic Liason with Industry (GOALI) program. The program encourages interaction between academic research institutions and industry. “At both Pitt and Aerotech, we will work on the evaluation and comparison between single crystal and binder jet-printed functional materials. I am working on the fundamental research aspect of this proposal—an understanding of how powder size and shape, printing, magnetic alignment, and processing affects microstructure and functional properties. Steven is working on actuator designs that would utilize these magnetic shape-memory alloys in either single crystal form or printed form,” Dr. Chmielus says. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Oct
30
2017

MEMS AM Faculty Position

MEMS, Open Positions

The Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science (MEMS) at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) invites applications for a tenure ­track assistant professor position in the Advanced Manufacturing area, with a mechanical engineering and/or materials engineering focus. Successful applicants should have the ability to build an externally funded research program, as well as contribute to the teaching mission of the MEMS Department. Applicants should have a PhD or ScD in Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science & Engineering or a related field. Applicants with outstanding track records at the associate professor level may also apply, but the focus will be at the assistant professor level. We are seeking applicants who have strong interdisciplinary interests and who can collaborate across engineering disciplines. We are particularly interested in candidates with expertise in one or more of the following areas: (1) Design-manufacture-assembly of complex multi-material products; (2) machine learning and artificial intelligence for advanced design and manufacturing; and (3) joining techniques such as (but not limited to) laser welding, friction stir welding, ultrasonic welding, and diffusion bonding. The Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science has 30 tenured or tenure-track faculty members who generate over $7 million in annual research expenditures. The Department maintains cutting-edge experimental and computational facilities in its five core research competencies: advanced manufacturing and design; materials for extreme conditions, biomechanics and medical technologies; modeling and simulation; energy system technologies; and quantitative and in situ materials characterization. The successful candidate for this position will benefit from the resources, support, and a multidisciplinary research environment fostered by the University of Pittsburgh’s Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation (http://www.mascarocenter.pitt.edu), Center for Energy (http://www.energy.pitt.edu) and Center for Simulation and Modeling (http://www.sam.pitt.edu), as well as the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (http://www.psc.edu). Qualified applicants should submit their applications electronically to pitt-mems-search@engr.pitt.edu with AM Search as an identifier. The application should include the following materials in pdf form: a curriculum vitae, a statement of research interests together with a listing of teaching interests, and name and contact information of at least three references. Review of applications will begin on January 1, 2018, and continue until the position is filled. Candidates from groups traditionally underrepresented in engineering are strongly encouraged to apply. The candidate should be committed to high-quality teaching for a diverse student body and to assisting our Department in enhancing diversity. The University of Pittsburgh is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.

AM Search
Oct
30
2017

MEMS SM Faculty Position

MEMS, Open Positions

The Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science (MEMS) at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) invites applications for a tenure ­track assistant professor position in the Solid Mechanics area, with a mechanical engineering focus. Successful applicants should have the ability to build an externally funded research program, as well as contribute to the teaching mission of the MEMS Department. Applicants should have a PhD or ScD in Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science & Engineering or a related field. Applicants with outstanding track records at the associate professor level are also encouraged to apply, but the focus will be at the assistant professor level. We are seeking applicants who have strong interdisciplinary interests and who can collaborate across engineering disciplines. We are particularly interested in candidates with expertise in one or more of the following areas of solid mechanics: modeling and/or experimental methodology  of deformation, fracture, structural stability, micro/nano-mechanics, biomechanics, or some combination of these. The Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science has 30 tenured or tenure-track faculty members who generate over $7 million in annual research expenditures. The Department maintains cutting-edge experimental and computational facilities in its five core research competencies: advanced manufacturing and design; materials for extreme conditions, biomechanics and medical technologies; modeling and simulation; energy system technologies; and quantitative and in situ materials characterization. The successful candidate for this position will benefit from the resources, support, and a multidisciplinary research environment fostered by the University of Pittsburgh’s Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation (http://www.mascarocenter.pitt.edu), Center for Energy (http://www.energy.pitt.edu) and Center for Simulation and Modeling (http://www.sam.pitt.edu), as well as the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (http://www.psc.edu). Qualified applicants should submit their applications electronically to pitt-mems-search@engr.pitt.edu with SM Search as an identifier. The application should include the following materials in pdf form: a curriculum vitae, a statement of research interests together with a listing of teaching interests, and name and contact information of at least three references. Review of applications will begin on January 1, 2018, and continue until the position is filled. Candidates from groups traditionally underrepresented in engineering are strongly encouraged to apply. The candidate should be committed to high-quality teaching for a diverse student body and to assisting our Department in enhancing diversity. The University of Pittsburgh is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.

SM Search
Oct
16
2017

Cool Your Airfoils

MEMS

PITTSBURGH (October 16, 2017) … Gas turbines serve a variety of power generation purposes ranging from jet engine propulsion to electricity production. Their impressive energy output also results in high-temperatures capable of causing extreme damage and limiting their lifespan. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), are developing advanced strategies to reduce the adverse effects of extremely high-temperatures on turbines.“A gas turbine is a type of internal combustion engine that mixes air, fuel, and combustion to rapidly spin fan-shaped blades—or airfoils—and create mechanical energy. While generating enormous amounts of energy, gas turbines also generate enormous amounts of heat and are at risk of being damaged by these high-temperatures,” explained Minking Chyu, Distinguished Service Professor and the Leighton and Mary Orr Chair Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. Dr. Chyu received $777,192 for the study “Integrated Transpiration and Lattice Cooling Systems Developed by Additive Manufacturing with Oxide-Dispersion-Strengthened Alloy.” The DOE Office of Fossil Energy (FE), which funds research and development projects to improve advanced fossil energy technologies and to encourage a sustainable approach to fossil resources, awarded $600,000, and $177,192 cost-share from the University of Pittsburgh.Dr. Chyu and his research team will explore applications for an anti-oxidation coating that can help cool airfoils and other hot-section components in gas turbines. They are working with new materials called Oxide Dispersion-Strengthened (ODS) Alloys to protect turbine blades by making them more resistant to high temperatures. Combining these alloys with 3D-printed lattice and transpiration cooling systems, the turbines not only are much less likely to suffer heat damage but also can be operated with a higher temperature for better efficiency.“The alloys we’re developing increase the melting point of the turbine’s components, and therefore, improve their heat resistance. Additive manufacturing enables us to create complex lattice structures that allow cool air to enter the turbines and reduce temperature even further,” said Dr. Chyu.The University of Pittsburgh study is one of nine projects the DOE FE selected to receive $5.4 million in federal funding for turbine research as part of its University Turbine Systems Research (UTSR) program. The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) manages the UTSR program and focuses on developing advance turbine technologies to increase energy efficiency, reduce emissions, and improve performance. About Dr. ChyuDr. Chyu received his PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of Minnesota. He was a faculty member at Carnegie Mellon University for 13 years before joining the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. He is the Associate Dean for International Initiatives at the Swanson School and Dean of the Sichuan University – Pittsburgh Institute in Chengdu, China. 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) and Associate Fellow of American Institute of Aerospace and Aeronautics (AIAA). Dr. Chyu has published more than 300 technical papers in archived journals, books, and conference proceedings. ### Image above: Dr. Chyu (right) examining an investment casting airfoil with former PhD student Sean Siw, who now works at Siemens Energy in Orlando on blade cooling tasks. By using the additive manufacturing process instead of investment casting, Dr. Chyu hopes to coat the airfoils with a protective, cooling structure built inside the ODS layer.
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Oct
4
2017

A Sticky Situation

MEMS

PITTSBURGH (October 4, 2017) … The smaller the object, especially at the atomic or subatomic level, the stranger it behaves. For example, as technological devices become smaller and smaller, the even smaller parts are more prone to adhesion or “stickiness.” When small-size parts come into contact, they spontaneously stick together and cannot easily be pulled apart. However, recent research at the University of Pittsburgh may “unstick” the problem and improve the next generation of microdevices increasingly used in everyday life.“Surfaces tend to attract each other via electronic or chemical interactions,” says Tevis Jacobs, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and material science at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. “This is particularly problematic as things become small. You can see this when you grind coffee. The whole beans don’t stick to the side of the grinder, but a fine grind will stick to everything, especially on a dry day.”Dr. Jacobs is the principal investigator for the study “Understanding and Leveraging the Effect of Nanoscale Roughness on Macroscale Adhesion,” which received $305,123 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to measure surface roughness and characterize the fundamental relationship between adhesion and roughness at small sizes. Dr. Jacobs and his team will determine when tiny objects prefer to stick together.“One reason that small parts stick more readily than large parts is the surface-to-volume ratio,” says Dr. Jacobs. “For large parts, there is a lot of volume relative to surface, so the adhesion is relatively weak compared to body forces, like gravity. When the parts become small, the surface forces become larger relative to the body forces and the parts will spontaneously stick.”For many engineering materials, increasing an object’s surface roughness will make it less likely for the small parts to stick together. The general reason why roughness reduces adhesion is well known. “Picture a cube with one-inch sides sitting on a table. If the surfaces are perfectly flat, then it will make contact with the table over an area of one square inch,” Dr. Jacobs explains. “If you grind the surface with sandpaper and put it back on the table, the roughness will prevent close contact in some areas. In fact, the cube might be supported by only a small number of contact points. The "true contact area" may be 1000 times smaller than one square inch.”The Pitt research team is developing and testing analytical and numerical models to be able to make quantitative predictions of adhesion between rough surfaces. This work will also guide engineers in intentionally modifying roughness to achieve a desired level of adhesion.A better understanding of how to reduce stickiness in small sizes will likely have the biggest impact on microdevices, which are commonly used in consumer electronics, biomedical devices, the semiconductor industry, and defense applications. The research is also applicable to the new manufacturing techniques being pioneered to create these microdevices, allowing manufacturers to avoid adhesion-related problems.“A classic example of adhesion causing a problem is the Digital Micromirror Device from Texas Instruments,” Dr. Jacobs says. “This projector, like the one used in auditoriums, involves a series of microelectronic devices that move tiny mirrors to make the projector function. The product was almost completely undone by adhesion in the microelectronic devices. They would get stuck in a specific position and be unable to move, resulting in a ‘stuck pixel’ on the display.”The Pitt researchers are not only understanding surface roughness and its effect on surface adhesion, they are also developing methods to modify the microdevices to achieve a desired level of adhesion.“There are many different models describing roughness and adhesion, but none are well verified experimentally,” says Dr. Jacobs. “We are using brand new techniques to measure the roughness, to experiment with different types of roughness, and to measure the resulting adhesion. Our goal is to test the existing models of adhesion and roughness and to establish new models that are more quantitative and predictive.”In 2015, Dr. Jacobs received an NSF grant to observe and measure the atomic surface structure of nanomaterials using electron microscopy. This new study is building on his past research and will employ a combination of transmission electron microscopy to characterize previously unmeasured surface scales and a custom micromechanical tester to measure surface adhesion.About Dr. JacobsThe work in Dr. Jacobs’ research group combines electron microscopy, multi-scale mechanical testing, and scanning probe microscopy to interrogate the mechanical and functional properties of contacts. On the small scale, they use ultra-high-resolution imaging and force measurement to interrogate atomic-scale processes. On the large-scale, they use micro- and macro-scale testing of larger contacts that contain multi-scale surface roughness. This enables them to scale-up the nanoscale insights to describe functional properties of large-scale objects. The overall goal is to develop quantitative, fundamental, and predictive understanding of contact behavior at all scales, which will enable tailored properties for advanced technologies.Prior to joining the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Jacobs served as a postdoctoral researcher in Professor Robert Carpick's Nanotribology Group at the University of Pennsylvania, which studies the fundamental origins and applications of friction, adhesion, wear, and lubrication at the nanometer length scale. He earned his bachelor of science in both mechanical engineering (ME) and materials science & engineering (MSE) from Penn, then received a master of philosophy in computer modeling of materials from Cambridge University and a master of science in MSE from Stanford University (thesis: "Adhesion and Reliability of Ultra-Thin Films of Novel Front End Materials"). He received a PhD in MSE from Penn in 2013 (thesis: "Imaging and Understanding Atomic-Scale Adhesion and Wear: Quantitative Investigations Using In situ TEM"). Dr. Jacobs also spent two years as a mechanical and materials engineer at Animas Corporation, a Johnson & Johnson Company in West Chester, Pa. that manufactures insulin pumps for people with diabetes. ### Top image (from left to right): Undergraduate Katerina Kimes (sitting), Prof. Tevis Jacobs, Undergraduate Cameron Kisailus, and PhD Candidate Abhijeet Gujrati looking at a map of surface topography. Second image (from left to right): Gujrati, Prof. Jacobs, Kimes, and Kisailus.
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer

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