Pitt | Swanson Engineering

The Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science (MEMS) is the largest in the Swanson School of Engineering in terms of students and faculty. All of our programs are ABET-accredited. The Department's core strengths include:

  • Advanced Manufacturing and Design
  • Materials for Extreme Conditions
  • Biomechanics and Medical Technologies
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Energy System Technologies
  • Quantitative and In Situ Materials Characterization

MEMS faculty are not only world-renowned academicians, but accessible teachers 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.

Each year, the Department graduates approximately 90 mechanical and materials science engineers, with nearly 100% placed in excellent careers with industry and research facilities around the globe.

Read our latest newsletter below


SSOE Associate Dean for Diversity and MEMS Associate Professor Receives Award

MEMS, Diversity, Office of Development & Alumni Affairs

Sylvanus Wosu, associate dean for diversity and MEMS associate professor, was the recipient of this year’s DuPont Minorities in Engineering Award given by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE).  The award is intended to recognize the outstanding performance of an engineering educator for their efforts in increasing student diversity within engineering and engineering technology programs. The award consists of a $1500 honorarium, a $500 grant for travel expenses to the ASEE Annual Conference and a certificate.


University of Pittsburgh expert in fluid dynamics, combustion and aerodynamics to co-chair mini symposium at NC19


PITTSBURGH (March 12, 2019) … Peyman Givi, developer of the Filtered Density Function (FDF) used in very high fidelity numerical simulation of chemically reactive flow fields, will co-chair a mini symposium on the subject at the 17th International Conference on Numerical Combustion (NC19) in Aachen, Germany from May 6-8, 2019. Dr. Givi is a Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering and the James T. MacLeod Professor in Swanson School of Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh.The mini symposium “Filtered Density Function Methods for Turbulent Reactive Flows” will include 60 participants and 28 presented papers. According to Dr. Givi, participants will learn the latest developments and innovations in enhancing the computational and predictive capabilities of the FDF methodology.“When I first developed and introduced FDF, many thought it was mathematically complex and too computational intensive,” Dr. Givi says. “However, I have worked with my outstanding PhD students at Pitt to develop methodologies to address the computational complexity and further refine its adoption. Today, I could not be more pleased by the number of colleagues from outstanding institutions around the world who will be joining us in Aachen to share their success stories using our method.” For more information, visit http://givi.pitt.edu/news/. About Dr. GiviPrior to his tenure at Pitt, Dr. Givi held the rank of University Distinguished Professor in Aerospace Engineering at the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he received the Professor of the Year Award by Tau Beta Pi (2002). He also worked as a Research Scientist at the Flow Industries, Inc. in Seattle. Dr. Givi has had frequent visiting appointments at the NASA Langley & Glenn (Lewis) centers, and received the NASA's Public Service Medal (2005). He is among the first 15 engineering faculty nationwide who received the White House Presidential Faculty Fellowship. He is also a recipient of the Young Investigator Award from the Office of Naval Research, and the Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation. Dr. Givi is the Deputy Editor of AIAA Journal, member of the editorial boards of Computers & Fluids, Journal of Applied Fluid Mechanics; the Open Aerospace Engineering Journal, an Associate Editor of Journal of Combustion; and a past advisory board member of Progress in Energy and Combustion Science. He received his Ph.D. from the Carnegie Mellon University (PA), and BE (Summa Cum Laude) from the Youngstown State University (OH), where he was named the 2004 Phi Kappa Phi Distinguished Alumnus, and the 2012 STEM College Outstanding Alumnus. Dr. Givi has achieved Fellow status in AAAS, AIAA, APS, and ASME; and was designated as ASME's Engineer of the Year 2007 in Pittsburgh. ###


MEMS professor co-authors review paper in Materials Today Physics


Sangyeop Lee, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, is co-author of a recent article, “Survey of ab initio phonon thermal transport” in Materials Today Physics (vol. 7, 2018, pp. 106-120, DOI 10.1016/j.mtphys.2018.11.008). According to the abstract: The coupling of lattice dynamics and phonon transport methodologies with density functional theory has become a powerful tool for calculating lattice thermal conductivity (k) with demonstrated quantitative accuracy and applicability to a wide range of materials. More importantly, these first-principles transport methods lack empirical tuning parameters so that reliable predictions of k behaviors in new and old materials can be formulated. Since its inception nearly a decade ago, first-principles thermal transport has vastly expanded the range of materials examined, altered our physical intuition of phonon interactions and transport behaviors, provided deeper understanding of experiments, and accelerated the design of materials for targeted thermal functionalities. Such advances are critically important for developing novel thermal management materials and strategies as heat sets challenging operating limitations on engines, microelectronics, and batteries. This article provides a comprehensive survey of first-principles Peierls-Boltzmann thermal transport as developed in the literature over the last decade, with particular focus on more recent advances. This review will demonstrate the wide variety of calculations accessible to first-principles transport methods (including dimensionality, pressure, and defects), highlight unusual properties and predictions that have been made, and discuss some challenges and behaviors that lie beyond. Dr. Lee, who joined Pitt in 2015, studies nanoscale thermal transport in solid materials, and his research is currently focused on hydrodynamic phonon transport in graphitic materials and thermal transport in fully or partially disordered phase. His group utilizes Boltzmann transport theory, Green's function method, and molecular dynamics simulation, all of which use interatomic force constants calculated from density functional theory. He earned his BS and MS in mechanical and aerospace engineering from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, and PhD in mechanical engineering from MIT. Funding for this research was provided by: Office of Science Oak Ridge National Laboratory National Science Foundation (1709307, 1150948, 1705756) Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (HR0011-15-2-0037)


Solving a Sticky Problem


PITTSBURGH (March 4, 2019) … Although far thinner than a human hair, metal nanoparticles play an important role in advanced industries and technologies from electronics and pharmaceuticals to catalysts and sensors. Nanoparticles can be as small as ten atoms in diameter, and their small size makes them especially susceptible to coarsening with continued use, which reduces functionality and degrades performance. To advance the understanding of micro- and nano-surfaces and to engineer more stable nanoparticles, the National Science Foundation has awarded the University of Pittsburgh’s Tevis Jacobs a $500,000 CAREER Award, which supports early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization. Dr. Jacobs, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, will utilize electron microscopy to directly study and measure adhesion properties of nanoparticles and their supporting substrates. “Research has already shown that nanoparticle coarsening is related to nanoparticle adhesion; however, those prior studies measured the aggregate behavior of billions of particles simultaneously. The large number of particles prevented systematic investigation of the key factors governing adhesion. To gain a better understanding, we need to be able to study individual nanoparticles in action, in real time,” Dr. Jacobs explains. “Our suite of tools for performing mechanical and materials testing inside of a transmission electron microscope allows for direct measurements of adhesion under different circumstances. These measurements will enable greater understanding of the atomic-scale relationships between nanoparticle adhesion and coarsening.” Dr. Jacobs noted that current processes to counter nanoparticle coarsening utilize stabilizing materials, but matching the most effective stabilizer to a nanoparticle is a time-consuming and costly trial-and-error process. The CAREER award will enable Dr. Jacobs and his lab group to develop new methods to measure the attachment and stability of nanoparticles on surfaces under various conditions, allowing researchers to enhance both surfaces and nanoparticles in tandem to work more effectively together. Additionally, the CAREER award allows Dr. Jacobs and his Surfaces and Small-Scale Structures Laboratory  to engage with the University of Pittsburgh School of Education and a local elementary school to create and nationally disseminate surface engineering-focused curricular units for sixth- to eighth-grade students and professional development training modules for teachers. “Incorporating engineering projects in early grades has the potential to inspire more students of all backgrounds to become interested in STEM, and can have particularly strong effects on groups that are underrepresented in STEM careers today,” Dr. Jacobs said. “And on the research side, the improvements in nanoparticle performance will have direct benefit in applications such as manufacturing, solar energy, and sensors for the detection of pollutants in the environment and diseases in the body.” ### Above from left: PhD students Sai Bharadwaj Vishnubhotla, Yahui Yang, and Dr. Jacobs with the FEI Titan Themis aberration-corrected transmission electron microscope in the Gertrude E. and John M. Petersen Institute of NanoScience and Engineering (PINSE) and Nanoscale Fabrication and Characterization Facility.


Shifting Into High Gear

Industrial, MEMS, Office of Development & Alumni Affairs

David Kitch holds two degrees from the University of Pittsburgh, but his connection to the Pitt community extends far beyond that. Kitch earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (1968) and a Master of Science in Industrial Engineering (1981). Kitch first became aware of the University of Pittsburgh at a young age, working in his father’s automobile repair shop, Kitch’s Auto Service, located in Slickville, PA, 30 miles east of Pittsburgh in Westmoreland County. It was here that he gained an interest in engineering through rebuilding engines, transmissions, carburetors and more when he was just 10 years old. Kitch would often talk about his engineering interest to the shop’s customers, which included UPMC doctors and University of Pittsburgh instructors. They all encouraged Kitch to consider Pitt when the time came to apply to college. While Kitch originally intended to apply for a scholarship to the US Naval Academy, tuition benefits and other perks for the Westmoreland County native led him to attend the University of Pittsburgh Greensburg, which offered a pre-engineering curriculum. Kitch attended Pitt Greensburg for two years and then transferred to the Oakland campus in 1966. When he got to Oakland, Kitch joined the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) as a student member. Kitch fondly remembers attending classes in Engineering Hall and eating brown bag lunches with other commuter students. Because of his interest in energy conversion and turbomachinery, he especially enjoyed his thermo-fluids classes. Kitch says his most influential instructors were Dr. Blaine Leidy who taught Thermodynamics 1 and 2 and Dr. Joel Peterson who taught Fluid Mechanics.  Kitch continued to work at his father’s repair shop throughout his undergraduate career. While the formal co-op program had not yet been created at the time, Kitch considers Kitch’s Auto Service to be one of the first co-op sponsors and he gives much credit to his work there in helping him achieve his degree.  When Kitch graduated in 1968, the job market for engineers was thriving. He recalls being frequently contacted by company recruiters. He took interviews with four companies, but his love for the Pittsburgh region ultimately influenced him to stay local and he accepted a position at Elliott Co. in Jeannette, PA. In the early ‘70s, the nuclear power field gained traction and was led by local company, Westinghouse Electric Co. Several Elliott engineers were recruited by Westinghouse, including Kitch, who was hired in 1973. Kitch spent the next 25 years working for Westinghouse in a variety of positions including; principal design engineer, marketing engineer, nuclear safety, and project engineering.  These positions afforded Kitch the opportunity to publish numerous technical papers and travel the world visiting suppliers and nuclear plants where Westinghouse equipment was installed. In the late 70s, Kitch began attending night school in pursuit of his master’s in Engineering Management. He notes, “I was most influenced by Dr. David Cleland, my project management professor who was also well known for his publications on the subject. Dr. Cleland asked me if would critique one of his books and I did.  I reviewed the many papers submitted by authors and picked the best, to which I was mentioned in his book and received three credits toward my degree.” Kitch was also named to the IE National Honor Society in 1981. In a long and prosperous engineering tenure, Kitch is able to identify many highlights. One highlight that particularly stands out to Kitch was when his position at Westinghouse was to mentor three young engineering new hires to work on the AP-1000 plant design. One of the three hires was a Pitt Mechanical Engineering graduate named Kyle Noel. “Kyle and I formed the pump design team for the AP-1000 and we traveled to Europe, California, and throughout the US for four years. When I retired from this job, Kyle assumed command and we have remained close friends today.”During Kitch’s time as a design engineer for Westinghouse, he stayed in touch with two of his Pitt classmates, Bernard "Bernie" Fedak and Wilson Farmerie. These men recruited Kitch to serve on the then Mechanical Engineering Department Visiting Committee, an important service the three of them still do today, 25 years later. In October 2016, Kitch received from Dean Holder a MEMS Department Service Award for his impactful and dedicated commitment to the Department and the Swanson School of Engineering in general.Currently, Kitch is an engineering consultant working for Vinoski and Assoc. Inc., and McNally LLC. “My work consists of expert witness testimony support, failure and root cause analyses, reliability/design audits, and project management.” Kitch never lost his passion for cars. He supports the Pitt FSAE team as a booster, spectator and fan. He serves as a judge for the National Corvette Restorer’s Society.  He has also restored several Corvettes and currently owns three, which he keeps in a garage he calls Dave’s Corvette Corner.
Author: Meagan Lenze, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
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