Pitt | Swanson Engineering

The Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science (MEMS) is the largest in the school of engineering 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, materials science and other 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 them 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



Aug
20
2018

Calculating a New Design

MEMS

PITTSBURGH (August 20, 2018) … A research collaboration led by the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering is one of 15 national projects to receive nearly $8.8 million in Department of Energy (DOE) funding for cost-shared research and development initiatives to develop innovative technologies that enhance fossil energy power systems.The proposal, “Integrated Computational Materials and Mechanical Modeling for Additive Manufacturing of Alloys with Graded Structure Used in Fossil Fuel Power Plants,” was awarded to Wei Xiong, PhD (PI), assistant professor, and Albert To, PhD (Co-PI), associate professor in the Swanson School’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science. Their collaborator is Michael Klecka, PhD at the United Technologies Research Center (UTRC), headquartered in East Hartford, Connecticut. The team received $750,000 in DOE funding with $187,500 as the cost share. DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) in Pittsburgh will manage the selected projects.The team will focus on utilizing additive manufacturing (AM), or 3D printing, to construct graded alloys use for Advanced Ultra-Super Critical (AUSC) power plants at a shorter lead time and at lower costs. Utilizing the expertise in integrated computational materials engineering (ICME), the team at Pitt will develop a new modeling framework for wire-arc additive manufacturing at UTRC that integrates both materials modeling and mechanical simulation to design and manufacture superior alloy components for these power plants. “Wire-arc AM is a promising technique to build complex parts for fossil fuel plants. However, the operational environment of these plants requires resistance to very high stress, temperatures, and oxidation, and so we need to develop a new paradigm in computational design,” Dr. Xiong explained. Dr. To also noted, “Optimizing materials composition and processing strategy, combined with ICME modeling to improve the part design and reduce failure, will be a game-changer for the industry.”AM has significantly expanded the development of complex parts thanks to the joining of dissimilar alloys, enabling the creation of stronger, lighter, and more affordable components compared to traditional manufacturing. In particular, the ability to control the manufacture of a part’s micro- and macro-structure is what makes these components superior, but this requires greater computational control over the manufacturing. For these computational systems, Pitt and UTRC will utilize physics-based, process-structure-property models to simulate thermal history, melt pool geometry, phase stability, grain morphology/texture, and thus predict and control high-temperature oxidation, mechanical strength, and interface properties. “Thanks to additive manufacturing, in the future, industrial plants of various types will have the capability to repair or replace components on-site,” Dr. Klecka at UTRC said. “This will enable utilities to improve operations and invest resources more effectively.”Dr. Xiong’s research and the other projects fall under DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy’s Crosscutting Technology Research Program, which advances technologies that have a broad range of fossil energy applications. The program fosters innovative R&D in sensors and controls, modeling and simulation, high-performance materials, and water management. ###

Aug
15
2018

Gleeson leads in the field of high temperature corrosion

MEMS

Any industry that operates in a high- temperature environment needs structural and functional materials that can withstand heat and associated surface reactions. To help these materials resist corrosion at high temperatures, scientists have developed alloys and coatings that can naturally form a protective scale layer. While some think that research in this field is complete, Brian Gleeson, the Harry S. Tack Professor and Chair of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at the University of Pittsburgh, published an article in Nature Materials explaining that there is still much room for advancement and discovery. Gleeson leads the High Temperature Corrosion Lab in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering where his group focuses on testing and assessing the high-temperature corrosion behavior of metallic alloys and coatings.   “From a practical standpoint, any component that is exposed to a high temperature in a reactive environment is potentially at risk of excessive surface degradation,” said Gleeson. “This includes the aerospace, power generation, metal processing, automotive, waste incineration, and chemical processing industries. For these industries, high-temperature corrosion testing and assessment is often needed to aid in material selections or to generate essential design or life-prediction data.” Research by Gleeson and colleagues combines experiment with theory and advanced characterization to understand the complex interplay between the chemical and kinetic factors affecting protective-scale formation in single- and multi-oxidant environments. To provide extended protection, the scale that forms is typically an oxide (e.g., Al2O3, Cr2O3 or SiO2) that is both stable and adherent to the high-temperature component. The initial stage of corrosion reaction is an area where Gleeson believes there is considerable room for discovery. It is an important part of a given oxidation process where an alloy or coating composition forms a continuous thermally grown oxide (TGO) scale. “The TGO layer is critical because it makes the material more resilient to degradation in harsh environments,” said Gleeson. “The lifetime of a particular alloy or coating is determined by the tenacity of this layer and its ability to heal or reform in the event of damage.” Gleeson thinks that more can be done to gain a better understanding of this important step in the overall reaction. He said, “Commonly recognized oxidation theory lacks the ability to accurately predict whether a given alloy or coating composition will be able to form a continuous protective scale layer.” Researchers in the HTC Lab are probing the nature of scale formation under harsh environment conditions that mimic actual service.  Beyond understanding the formation of the TGO layer, Gleeson believes that more needs to be understood about the complex oxidizing environments during the development of these scales. The type of gas surrounding the material or the level of humidity can play a major role in the lifetime of a material. “Water vapor, which is commonly found in these environments, is known to have a detrimental effect on the scale-forming process.” As detailed in his Nature Materials article, different scales develop on alloys oxidized in dry air than alloys oxidized in wet air containing 30 percent water vapor. “The oxidizing environment is becoming increasingly more complex and goes beyond just exposure to air. Moving forward, researchers will need to understand the role of oxidizing species, such as O2, H2O, and CO2, in affecting protective scales.” To gain a better overall understanding of the oxidation process, including the underlying kinetic and thermodynamic factors, Gleeson encourages researchers to improve experimental and computational methods to observe and model oxidation. He said, “Researchers need to develop a multiscale predictive understanding of this initial stage and focus on the interactions and effects of alloy constituents and gaseous oxidants.”  According to Gleeson, “What largely stands in the way of advancing understanding on the kinetic and thermodynamic factors, which influence protective TGO-scale formation and maintenance in harsh service environments, is the misguided notion that high-temperature corrosion is a passé field with little room for discovery.” ### Gleeson’s academic collaborators at Pitt include Professors Gerald Meier, Guofeng Wang, Wei Xiong, and Judith Yang. Gleeson said, “Working with these and other collaborators –including recently retired Professor Fred Pettit– the University of Pittsburgh has long been recognized both nationally and internationally as leaders in high-temperature corrosion research.” In addition to a lab in Benedum Hall on Pitt’s campus, Gleeson recently established a lab in the Energy Innovation Center (engineering.pitt.edu/HTC) in Pittsburgh’s Lower Hill District. This off-campus lab bridges the gap between basic research and commercial application. Utilizing extensive experience and expertise, researchers conduct lab-scale testing and analyses of corrosion performance under harsh, high-temperature environments, along with material failure analysis, and other consulting services. Gleeson serves as the academic director of the HTC lab, and his former PhD student, Dr. Bingtao Li, serves as the technical director. Li has over 15 years of industry experience in the area of high temperature corrosion. Testing is generally conducted in the range of 1100 - 2200°F (~600 - 1200°C) at 1 atm total pressure and in simulated service environments ranging from a combustion process (e.g., rich in O2, H2O and CO2, with 0-1000 ppm SO2) through to a specific industrial process (e.g., nitridation with NH3, carburization with CH4). Many tests involve deposits, such as sulfates and dust. According to Gleeson, “Beyond our focus on high temperature alloys and coatings, knowledge gained from research in the HTC Lab also provides a significantly more comprehensive view of the collective and coupled behaviors of surface reactions.”

Aug
13
2018

Pitt Alumnus Thomas Dudash gifts $1 million to support Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at the Swanson School

MEMS

PITTSBURGH (August 13, 2018) … Thomas R. Dudash, a University of Pittsburgh alumnus who earned his bachelor’s degree in metallurgical engineering in 1960, has donated $1 million to Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. The gift will support his degree program’s successor, the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science (MEMS). Mr. Dudash, who retired from Allegheny Ludlum in 1989, requested that the gift advance education and research in the Department, the largest of six engineering programs in the Swanson School and one of the oldest, founded in 1868.“This generous gift will greatly bolster capabilities within MEMS Department’s main research thrust areas, particularly advanced manufacturing and design, an area that aligns well with Mr. Dudash’s interests during his metallurgist career at Allegheny Ludlum,” noted Brian Gleeson, the Harry S. Tack Chair Professor and MEMS Department Chair. “The equipment that will be purchased will serve both graduate and undergraduate education. The legacy that will stem from Mr. Dudash’s gift will be significant and sustaining, and quite impactful for years to come.”“Our alumni pride themselves on being known as Pitt Engineers, and share a wonderful devotion to the Swanson School. We are honored when individuals like Mr. Dudash return that fervor with a gift that supports the education of future Pitt Engineers,” said Gerald D. Holder, U.S. Steel Dean and Distinguished Service Professor. “His generosity is an investment in the success of student education, faculty research, and academic excellence.” ###

Aug
2
2018

MEMS Department Administrator

MEMS, Open Positions

The Swanson School of Engineering is currently seeking a qualified Department Administrator in an advanced professional capacity for the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science. Duties include: - General and fiscal administration - Post-award management - Processing and maintaining all personnel and payroll forms - Problem interventions - Managing educational programs - Supervision of staff and student workers. The incumbent must be able to act independently to determine, interpret, and execute Department, School, and University policies. This position will report directly to the Department Chair. The Department consists of 35 full-time Faculty, 650 undergraduate students and 200 graduate students (graduate. This position will be responsible for managing approximately $15 million in research and departmental funding. Minimum of 10+ years experience in professional and/or administrative positions, preferably in a University setting. For more information and to apply please use the PittSource portal.

Aug
2
2018

MEMS Asst Prof

MEMS, Open Positions

The University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering is seeking an outstanding candidate to fill a non-tenure stream faculty position in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science (MEMS) with the principal duty of advising undergraduate students. There will also be some teaching responsibilities. Applicants should possess an MS or PhD in Mechanical Engineering or a related field. Applicants with prior teaching and/or advising experience in an engineering program are particularly encouraged to apply. In addition, experience in such areas as engineering education or the development of outreach programs to pre-college students, and relevant industrial/practical experience is desired. The successful candidate will work with many students and should have good communication skills. Interested applicants should submit an email to pitt-mems-search@engr.pitt.edu that includes in a single PDF file: a cover letter, a detailed resume and the names and contact information for at least three references. The University of Pittsburgh is an EEO/AA/M/F/Vets/Disabled employer.

MEMS Assistant Professor Search

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