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
  • Soft Matter Biomechanics
  • Computational and Data-Enabled Engineering
  • Cyber-Physical Systems and Security
  • Nuclear and other Sustainable Energies
  • 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.

Dec
4
2019

Pitt Engineer Sangyeop Lee Receives $500K NSF CAREER Award

MEMS

PITTSBURGH (Dec. 4, 2019) — Developing materials with ultrahigh or ultralow thermal conductivity along a certain direction can enable new energy storage and conversion devices. However, grain boundaries - two-dimensional defects in crystal structures - exist in polycrystalline material and significantly affect thermal transport. Addressing the defects is currently not efficient - observing and experimenting with grain boundaries when creating materials can prove to be a lengthy and costly process. However, machine learning may provide a more sustainable alternative. Sangyeop Lee, PhD, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, received a $500,000 CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for research that would utilize machine learning to model thermal transport in polycrystalline materials. The research seeks to create a computer model that can predict the conductive properties of a material in real life, providing guidance to engineer defects for desired thermal properties. “Thermal transport across grain boundaries is not well understood. Studying heat as it transfers across a material at the atomistic scale means observing how atoms vibrate,” explains Lee. “In real materials, atoms are disordered and it has been extremely challenging to predict how atoms vibrate in disordered structures from first-principles. However, machine learning can help us gain a quantitative understanding of thermal transport that can help us predict how a material will behave.” The improved understanding of thermal transfer across grain boundaries will enable engineers to create materials that convert heat to electricity more efficiently, for example, or better manage heat in electronic devices. The project, titled “Machine Learning Enabled Study of Thermal Transport in Polycrystalline Materials from First Principles,” will begin on July 1, 2020.
Maggie Pavlick
Dec
2
2019

A Close Look at a Sticky Situation

MEMS

PITTSBURGH (Dec. 2, 2019) — Tires gripping the road. Nonslip shoes preventing falls. A hand picking up a pen. A gecko climbing a wall. All these things depend on a soft surface adhering to and releasing from a hard surface, a common yet incompletely understood interaction. New research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) finds the missing link between soft surface adhesion and the roughness of the hard surface it touches. The paper, “Linking energy loss in soft adhesion to surface roughness,” (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1913126116) was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and was coauthored by Siddhesh Dalvi, Abhijeet Gujrati, Subarna R. Khanal, Lars Pastewka, Ali Dhinojwala, and Tevis D.B. Jacobs. Dr. Jacobs, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, and Dr.  Dhinojwala, interim dean and H.A. Morton Professor of Polymer Science at The University of Akron’s College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering, have used in situ microscopic measurements of contact size to unlock the fundamental physics of how roughness affects soft material adhesion. “A gecko running up a vertical wall is an excellent example of how nature has developed a solution to stick to rough surfaces,” says Dhinojwala. “The key to achieve this adhesion on rough surface is molecular contact. Soft material can conform to rough surfaces and create the molecular contact necessary to stick well. We need a fundamental understanding of the parameters that control adhesion to rough surfaces and the underlying physics.” There are two different parts of the process: what happens when you load up the contact and what happens when you separate it. Previous theories have proposed how roughness affects the first half of the process, but offer no insight into the second half. This problem is called “adhesion hysteresis,” meaning the soft surface contact behaves differently as it encounters the rough surface rather than when pulled away. One way to think about adhesion hysteresis is to think of a small rubber ball. Pressing the ball down against a hard surface expands the area of contact; letting go will cause the area to shrink again, but not in a predictable, symmetrical way. This discovery marks the first model of rough adhesion that can predict both. The key to this foundational discovery is a close look at the rough surface itself—very, very close. “People have been measuring roughness for a hundred years, but conventional techniques can’t see the small detail,” says Jacobs. “We zoomed in, combining multiple techniques, to measure roughness on top of roughness on top of roughness. The texture goes down to the atomic scale for many surfaces.” The group developed a new approach using an electron microscope to measure roughness down to below the scale of a nanometer. One of the surfaces in this study appeared far smoother than two others when measured using conventional techniques; however, when measured down to the atomic scale, it proved to be the roughest of all. This small-scale roughness created a lot more surface area for the soft material to grip. The detailed understanding of the rough surface was the missing link that explained the predicted the surfaces’ adhesion behavior. “Our research answered an important question, but in another sense, it opened up a new line of inquiry,” says Jacobs. “There are a lot of interesting questions about what it really means for surfaces to be ‘in contact’ and how to link what is happening at the atomic-scale to what we observe in full-size, real-world contacts. And we’re excited to continue answering them.”
Maggie Pavlick
Nov
21
2019

Eight Receive Mascaro Faculty Program in Sustainability Awards

Civil & Environmental, Electrical & Computer, MEMS

PITTSBURGH (Nov. 21, 2019) — The University of Pittsburgh’s Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation (MCSI) named eight faculty awardees for the 2020 John C. Mascaro Faculty Program in Sustainability. The one-year awards, created to enhance the University’s mission of interdisciplinary excellence in sustainability research and education, go to faculty members from all disciplines, who may apply as faculty fellows, scholars or lecturers. “From proposing ways to give students more hands-on experience with sustainability to the incorporation of arts- and humanities-based approaches to sustainability discourse, this year’s award recipients demonstrate the interdisciplinary work we strive for,” says Gena Kovalcik, co-director of administration and external relations at MCSI. “We’re excited to see the great work they will do.” John C. Mascaro Faculty Fellow in Sustainability: David Finegold, Graduate School of Public Health John C. Mascaro Faculty Scholars in Sustainability: Tony Kerzmann, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science Sara Kuebbing, Department of Biological Sciences John C. Mascaro Faculty Lecturers in Sustainability: Joshua Groffman, Division of Communication and the Arts, Pitt Bradford Katherine Hornbostel, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science Robert Kerestes, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Pamela Stewart, Department of Anthropology Andrew Strathern, Department of Anthropology
Maggie Pavlick
Nov
21
2019

Swanson School scores a hat-trick at 2019 Pitt Celebration of Innovation

Chemical & Petroleum, MEMS, Office of Development & Alumni Affairs

This article originally appeared in the University Times. Reposted with permission. PITTSBURGH (November 21, 2019) ... The Innovation Institute celebrated the Pitt faculty, students and staff who are working to make their ideas and research discoveries have a real-world impact at the 14th annual Celebration of Innovation, on Nov. 20 at the Petersen Events Center Campus View Club. “Our theme this year is ‘Powering Invention. Igniting Progress,’ and there can be no denying that the growing innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem at Pitt and in the region is igniting a firestorm of innovation across the University,” said Evan Facher, director of the Innovation Institute. In the past five fiscal years (2015-2019), the number of invention disclosures filed with the Innovation Institute by Pitt faculty, students and staff are up nearly 30 percent over the previous five-year period. Patents issued were up nearly 80 percent, and startups formed were up nearly 150 percent. Facher said in the past five years there have been 440 patents issued to Pitt-related inventions, 80 start-up companies formed and 1,700 inventions brought to the Innovation Institute —  “practically one for every day of the last five years.” The role of the Innovation Institute, he said, is to connect people from different parts of Pitt, because, “that’s where innovations take root.” There’s still plenty of opportunity for more faculty to get involved in entrepreneurship, Facher said. Currently, less than 10 percent of Pitt faculty are working with the Innovation Institute on inventions. Rob Rutenbar, senior vice chancellor for Research, said the gathering celebrated the entrepreneurs and changemakers who want to bring their ideas to a commercial reality and maybe make the world a better place. “I would like to suggest you’re here in at least in some part because the right guidance from the University of Pittsburgh was able to inspire you and able to enable you to make your vision real.” In addition to Pitt Innovator awards being presented to the people behind the record 162 transactions (licenses/options) in fiscal 2019, several special awards were presented. Marlin Mickle Outstanding Innovator Award : William “Buddy” Clark, professor of mechanical engineering and materials science. The Mickle Award is presented to a Pitt faculty member who has demonstrated a sustained commitment to commercializing his or her research and ranks among the University’s prolific innovators in terms of the number of invention disclosures, patents and licenses they have been involved with. Clark is one of the most collaborative scientists at Pitt, lending his expertise to research projects ranging from pollution control valves to electronic intravenous catheters. But his true passion is baseball, as a coach, a fan and an inventor. Clark co-founded Pittsburgh-based Diamond Kinetics based on technology he developed to measure aspects of a baseball/softball player’s swing (read more about his work in the University Times). Clark also oversees the maker spaces at the Swanson School of Engineering and is director of the Innovation, Product Design, and Entrepreneurship Program. CJ Handron, CEO of Diamond Kinetics, said he met Clark seven years ago at Pitt. Since then, he said, “The culture around innovation and entrepreneurship at the University has grown and evolved significantly. I think Diamond Kinetics has had a little bit of influence on that; I think Buddy has had a tremendous influence on that.” Clark is a tireless voice for entrepreneurship and innovation in the Swanson School and throughout the University, Handron said. Emerging Innovator Award: Morgan Fedorchak, assistant professor of ophthalmology, bioengineering, chemical and petroleum engineering, and clinical and translational science. The Emerging Innovator Award is presented to an early-to-mid-career faculty member who has shown a keen interest in innovation commercialization and is dedicated to achieving impact through commercial translation of research. Fedorchak leads the Ophthalmic Biomaterials Laboratory. In her lab’s first four years, it has demonstrated an intense focus on translational science and has launched two projects on a commercialization pathway. She has taken advantage of a range of educational programming and funding opportunities to move her innovations from the lab towards the market. These include the First Gear commercialization program, the Michael G. Wells Competition, and Chancellor’s Innovation Commercialization Funds, as well as consulting regularly with licensing managers and entrepreneurs in residence. Outstanding Student Innovator Award: Emily Siegel, senior, chemical engineering and biological sciences This award is presented to a Pitt student of any level who has embraced innovation and entrepreneurship as a career path and have participated in the Innovation Institute’s Big Idea Center programs and competitions to help bring their ideas to life. Siegal is the founder of Trek, a startup company developing solutions for eco-friendly dental care for people on the go. She brought her chemical engineering class project idea for a chewing gum that cleans teeth both mechanically and chemically to the Big Idea Blitz event in January 2019 and won a prize in the pitch competition. She then entered the Randall Family Big Idea Competition. Competing against 300 fellow students, she and the team she assembled for the competition won the $25,000 top prize. From there, she entered the Big Idea Center’s Blast Furnace student accelerator. She is now in the first cohort of the Forge, the University’s new student startup incubator. ###
Author: Susan Jones, Editor, University Times
Nov
20
2019

Pitt STRIVE Program Receives UPSIDE Award

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental, Electrical & Computer, Industrial, MEMS, Diversity, Student Profiles, Office of Development & Alumni Affairs

This article was originally published on @Pitt. Reposted with permission. PITTSBURGH (November 20, 2019) ... The Swanson School of Engineering’s Pitt Success, Transition, Representation, Innovation, Vision and Education (STRIVE) Program was recognized with the 2019 University Prize for Strategic, Inclusive and Diverse Excellence (UPSIDE) Award by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. The goal of the Pitt STRIVE Program is to improve transitions of underrepresented minority (URM) students into doctoral engineering programs at the University. Using evidence-based strategies, the program aims to foster student and faculty engagement to ensure students’ successful completion of the PhD in engineering. "It has been an honor be a part of the leadership team of this extraordinarily great program,” said Sylvanus Wosu, associate dean for diversity affairs at the Swanson School. Wosu acknowledged the support and commitment from the U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering James R. Martin II and the Office of the Dean. “The Pitt STRIVE Program has been transformational in increasing URM PhD enrollment from less than 5% to over 7.5%, enhancing the academic culture and community that have contributed to 13 URM PhDs in the last four years, and significantly increasing the number of faculty with a shared vision for the school’s diversity and inclusion goals,” Wosu said. Under the direction of Wosu and Steven Abramowitch, associate professor of bioengineering, the program—which has been recognized and funded by the National Science Foundation—has focused on such areas as: Improving faculty engagement with URM students Improving faculty awareness of the impediments to URM success in doctoral programs Promoting a shared vision among vested faculty regarding the success of URM students within the Pitt community Achieving a systemic inclusive academic culture and climate that support the success of URM doctoral students “The Pitt STRIVE Program’s implementation is informed by research and practices that positively impact the culture and experiences of the faculty, students and community,” said David Gau, the Pitt STRIVE Program director of University engagement and communication. Chancellor Patrick Gallagher will recognize the Swanson School of Engineering with the UPSIDE Award at a Senate Council meeting in December. ###

Mechanical Engineering program
Materials Science program
Engineering Science program
Department News
Nuclear Engineering Program
Graduate Seminars

Upcoming Events


back
view more