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.

Sep
13
2019

Pitt Nuclear Energy Research Awarded Over $2 Million in Department of Energy Grants

Electrical & Computer, MEMS, Nuclear

PITTSBURGH (September 13, 2019) — The Stephen R. Tritch Nuclear Engineering program at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering has received three substantial grants from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP) totaling $2.3 million. The awards are three of the 40 grants in 23 states issued by the DOE, which awarded more than $28.5 million to research programs through the NEUP this year to maintain the U.S.’s leadership in nuclear research. “Nuclear energy research is a vital and growing source of clean energy in the U.S., and we are at the forefront of this exciting field,” says Heng Ban, PhD, R.K. Mellon Professor in Energy and director of the Stephen R. Tritch Nuclear Engineering Program at the Swanson School of Engineering. “These grants will enable us to collaborate with leading international experts, conducting research that will help shape future of nuclear energy.” One project, titled “Advanced Online Monitoring and Diagnostic Technologies for Nuclear Plant Management, Operation, and Maintenance,” received $1 million and is led by Daniel Cole, PhD, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Pitt.  Taking advantage of advanced instrumentation and big data analytics, the work will develop and test advanced online monitoring to better operate and manage nuclear power plants.  By combining condition monitoring, financial analysis, and supply chain models, nuclear utilities will be better able to streamline operation and maintenance efforts, minimize financial risk, and ensure safety. The project “Development of Versatile Liquid Metal Testing Facility for Lead-cooled Fast Reactor Technology” received $800,000 and is led by Jung-Kun Lee, PhD, professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Pitt. His work will benefit lead-cooled fast reactor (LFR) technology. Liquid lead is beneficial for this cooling process because it is non-reactive with water and air, has a high boiling point, poor neutron absorption and excellent heat transfer properties. Despite these benefits, though, lead’s corrosive nature is a critical challenge of LFR. This research would develop a versatile, high-temperature liquid lead testing facility that would help researchers understand this corrosive behavior to find a solution. Dr. Lee will collaborate with Dr. Ban at Pitt, as well as researchers from Westinghouse Electric Company, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, the ENEA in Italy, and the University of Manchester in the UK. The project “Thermal Conductivity Measurement of Irradiated Metallic Fuel Using TREAT” received $500,000 and is led by Dr. Ban in collaboration with Assel Aitkaliyeva from the University of Florida. The project will help to measure thermal conductivity and diffusivity data in uranium-plutonium-zirconium (U-Pu-Zr) fuels using an innovative thermal wave technique in the Transient Reactor Test Facility (TREAT). The project will not only provide thermophysical properties of irradiated U-Pu-Zr fuels, but also create a new approach for measuring irradiated, intact fuel rodlets. Additionally, Kevin Chen, PhD, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Pitt, will collaborate on a project that received $800,000 from the DOE, titled “Mixing of Helium with Air in Reactor Cavities Following a Pipe Break in HTGRs” and led by Masahiro Kawaji, PhD, professor at the City College of New York and assistant director of CUNY Energy Institute.
Maggie Pavlick
Sep
10
2019

MEMS Materials for Extreme Environments Faculty Position

MEMS, Open Positions

The Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science (MEMS) at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) invites applications at all academic levels for a tenure-track professor position in the area of Materials for Extreme Environments, with a particular focus on corrosion resistance. 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 Materials Science and Engineering or a related field. We are seeking applicants who have strong interdisciplinary interests and who can collaborate across engineering disciplines. The primary hiring focus will be on candidates with demonstrated experimental and/or computational research experience and a sound fundamental understanding of thermodynamic and kinetic properties associated with materials for use in extreme environments. Examples include materials for use in all forms of corrosive environments, protective coatings, and environmental barrier coatings. The MEMS Department currently has 30 tenured or tenure-track faculty members who generate over $8 million in annual research expenditures. The Department maintains cutting-edge experimental and computational facilities in its six core research competencies: materials for extreme environments; advanced manufacturing and design; soft matter biomechanics; computational and data-enabled engineering; nuclear and other sustainable energies; and quantitative and in situ materials characterization. The successful candidate for this position will benefit from the resources, support, and multidisciplinary research environment fostered by interdisciplinary centers, including the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Research Computing (http://www.crc.pitt.edu) and the Petersen Institute of NanoScience and Engineering (http://www.nano.pitt.edu), located within the Swanson School of Engineering. The latter is a user facility, which houses state-of-the-art materials characterization and fabrication capabilities. Qualified applicants should submit their applications through Interfolio at the following link:  https://apply.interfolio.com/68093. The application should include the following materials in pdf form: a curriculum vitae, a statement of research and teaching plans, and the names and contact information of at least three references. Review of applications will begin on November 1, 2019, 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 Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science fosters an inclusive academic teaching, learning, and research culture that supports the success of its diverse faculty and students. The University of Pittsburgh is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.

Sep
10
2019

MEMS Data-Driven Modeling 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 position in the area of Data-Driven Modeling. 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 or a related field. Applicants with outstanding track records at the associate professor and full professor levels are also encouraged to apply, but the focus will be at the assistant professor level. Expertise is particularly sought in one or more of the following areas: data-driven discovery of dynamical systems; physics-informed machine learning; data-driven predictive modeling; and multi-fidelity analysis.  Candidates with research applications in the areas of data assimilation and forecast, PDE-constrained optimization, control and reinforcement learning and modern computational methodologies are especially encouraged.  We are seeking candidates who have strong interdisciplinary interests and who can collaborate across engineering disciplines, but have a primary focus on mechanical engineering. The MEMS Department currently has 30 tenured or tenure-track faculty members who generate over $8 million in annual research expenditures. The Department maintains cutting-edge experimental and computational facilities in its six core research competencies: computational and data-enabled engineering; materials for extreme environments; advanced manufacturing and design; soft matter biomechanics; nuclear and other sustainable energies; 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 many interdisciplinary centers including the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Research Computing (http://www.crc.pitt.edu). Qualified applicants should submit their applications through Interfolio at the following link:  https://apply.interfolio.com/68086. The application should include the following materials in pdf form: a curriculum vitae, a statement of research and teaching plans, and name and contact information of at least three references. Review of applications will begin immediately, 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 Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science fosters an inclusive academic teaching, learning, and research culture that supports the success of its diverse faculty and students. The University of Pittsburgh is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.

Sep
9
2019

Makerspaces and Mindsets

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental, Electrical & Computer, MEMS, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (Sept. 9, 2019) — As with many creative projects, this one started with a doodle. Students at this year’s Makerspace Bootcamp at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering learned that to create a finished product, (in this case, a laser-cut lampshade), you must first translate the idea in your head onto paper. The 31 rising sophomore engineering students were asked to quickly sketch out a lampshade design, and then another, and another. By the end of the day, they would turn one of the sketches into a working lamp. “The project goes from physical, to digital, and back to physical. We walk through the design process, using software to create a digital model from the sketch, cutting it with the laser cutter, and assembling the lamp,” says David Sanchez, PhD, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the Swanson School. “The workshop helps students overcome two hurdles—one, that they don’t know that the makerspace is available to everyone, and two that they feel they need to be Tony Stark in order to create something.” The students used the Pitt Makerspace led by Brandon Barber, BioE Design, Innovation and Outreach Coordinator, to complete their lamp. The Makerspace, located in Benedum Hall, is open to students of all majors and has a wide range of equipment to design and fabricate. Current Makerspace students serve as mentors and helped the boot camp participants in the same way they guide all newcomers. “The Pitt Makerspaces provide hands-on experiences for students, with resources and support to make an idea a reality,” says Barber. “We want students to feel welcome to come in, explore, and collaborate, and the boot camp helps introduce them to a new way of thinking.” The annual boot camp began in 2013 as an entrepreneurship-focused event sponsored by the Engineering Education Research Center, but under the direction of Sanchez with the support of William (Buddy) Clark, PhD, professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, and Director of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship program. Since then it has shifted its focus to the Makerspace and Sanchez and Barber now plan for it to be even more hands-on and open to more students. While the first day of the workshop focused on using the Pitt Makerspace, the final day centered on building the mindset of a creator. Sanchez presented the students with different design challenges, such as imagining how to grow a company that sells one particular product successfully, like an oven cleaner. While most pitched the idea of making “a better oven cleaner,” he helped them to see that diving deeper into the customer’s experience would yield opportunities to reinvent it with concepts like better self-cleaning ovens. “Critical thinking and empathy are important parts of the design process. Shifting your focus beyond what products do to what customers experience is essential to good design,” says Sanchez. “Our goal for the boot camp is to cultivate this approach to design and making that inspires all our students to incorporate it into their experience here at the Swanson School.”
Maggie Pavlick
Aug
27
2019

Engineering a Low-Stress Aquarium

MEMS

PITTSBURGH (Aug. 27, 2019) — Little is more soothing than watching a tank of colorful fish gliding through the water, lights dancing off their scales against an auditory background of quietly bubbling water. Dentist’s offices and classrooms know this to be true—aquariums are a popular feature in places where a little soothing relaxation is welcome. However, taking care of an aquarium can be taxing, and the upkeep may be impossible for those with disabilities—the people most likely to benefit from them. Three recent graduates from the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering spent the last year working on a fish tank that would provide a maintenance solution by way of automation. Lucas Cerchiaro (MEMS ’19), Sarah Hertzler (MEMS ’19) and Tori Winter (MEMS ’19) finished the automated aquarium, the “AIOquarium,” for their senior design project, but they came up with the idea much earlier. “Lucas is our aquarium expert, and he had the idea last spring,” explains Winter. “We built a prototype as part of our mechatronics project, and we’ve been working on it since.” The tank uses Bluetooth connectivity and an app downloadable on Android devices to automate the heat, light and pump, and synchronize the components. They also installed a controllable valve to empty the water into a sink or receptacle. “We had no experience in coding before we started this, or in Bluetooth communication,” says Cerchiaro. “It took a while to get everything working at first.” The finished tank and its components have been put through extensive testing to make sure they can run for an extended period. Now, the team will donate the AIOquarium to a local classroom to serve as both a teaching tool and a relaxing classroom fixture. Brian Garlick, technology education teacher at South Fayette High School in McDonald, Pa., will implement the tank in his classroom. Hertzler was a student of Garlick’s throughout her years at the school, and she partially credits him for her decision to go into engineering. “He’s one of the reasons I’m here [at Swanson]. I reached out to him and he’s interested in the project,” says Hertzler. “I hope they keep the project going and let students work to improve it, try to inspire someone else like I was inspired.” In addition to wanting to highlight a former student’s work, Garlick is looking forward to sharing the learning opportunity with his students. “This aquarium and the innovative technologies applied within it will allow our Computer Science and Engineering students to openly collaborate and impact a real-world situation, with integrated coding and mechanical systems,” he says. “I love the ocean, and water in general. I scuba dive and started an Underwater Robotics club here in the high school. My goal is to try and introduce to our students the wealth of career and job opportunities that exist within the Marine and Oceanography fields.”
Maggie Pavlick
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