TEXAS A&M MECHANICAL ENGINEERING Spring Volume 2014
Howdy from the Department Head Greetings from one of the oldest, and most respected mechanical engineering schools in the nation!
Texas A&M University - 58,809 Engineering Students- 13,663
College Station Faculty 60
It is our mission as a department to provide our students with an education solidly based in the fundamentals essential to the engineering profession, while infusing them with creativity and innovation, and instilling in them a strong ethical responsibility that will enable them to take leadership roles in industry and government.
ME Undergraduate Students - 1,200
Professors - 24
ME Graduate Students- 440
Associate Professors - 13
Our highly renowned and accomplished faculty is one of the greatest strengths of our program. Seven of our faculty members published nine text books in 2013. I am pleased to welcome three new faculty members who recently joined our team, Dr. Sevan Goenezen, Dr. Sungyon Lee, and Dr. Douglas Allaire.
Over $200,000 in graduate fellowships are awarded to students annually.
Chairs - 4
Assistant Professors - 11 SCHOLARSHIPS Over $350,000 in undergraduate scholarships are awarded to students annually.
Teaching and Research Faculty - 12 Qatar Faculty - 12
Professorships- 10 Development Professors - 3
DEGREES AWARDED ANNUALLY
Faculty Fellowships - 4
Bachelors - 220
We are fortunate to attract the best students in our department. Several of our students achieved numerous prestigious awards and scholarships for their research. Our alumni are leaders in their fields, and many of them stay in touch, and contribute to the betterment of the program.
Masters - 116
Ph.D. - 22
Total Budget - $30 Million Research Grants - 60 %
A deep thank you to the various donors to the department, for their contributions toward various scholarship and development funds that help us elevate the stature of the Department of Mechanical Engineering.
RANKINGS (Among Public Universities)
State Funds - 23 %
Undergraduate - 8
Gifts / Endowments - 10 %
Graduate - 9
Other Funds - 7 %
Research Funding Total 18 Million
Over 300 companies interviewed on campus for mechanical engineers.
It was an honor to host the 2014 Pi Tau Sigma National Convention at Texas A&M University, on its 99th anniversary.
As we proudly reflect on our achievements in the past year, we also continually strive to improve and strengthen our department. I am excited to see what the future holds for our department and invite you to join us for this incredible journey.
â€˘ Undergraduate - 16% female â€˘ Graduate - 20% female
Dr. Andreas A. Polycarpou, Department Head and Meinhard H. Kotzebue Professor
Mechanical Engineering is one of 13 departments in the Dwight Look College of Engineering, the largest college on the Texas A&M campus.
NEW FACULTY Dr. Sevan Goenezen completed his Ph.D. at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York, USA, in May 2011. His Ph.D. work involved the development and implementation of efficient algorithms to solve inverse problems in finite elasticity. Its application to nonlinear elasticity imaging of breast tumors has shown great potential to diagnose breast cancer non-invasively. Dr. Goenezen worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Oregon Health & Science University before joining Texas A&M. His research interests include computational biomechanics and constitutive modeling of soft and hard tissues, nonlinear finite element analysis, inverse problems with application to biomedical imaging, multiscale modeling, mathematical homogenization, and fluid-structure interaction applied to the cardiovascular system.
Dr. Sungyon Lee completed her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she worked on the theoretical modeling of low Reynolds locomotion near the free surface, with Professor Anette `Peko’ Hosoi. Her research interests are fluid dynamics, multiphase flows, particle-laden flows, biolocomotion, microfluidics, drops and bubbles, thin films, interfacial dynamics and viscoelastic instabilities. She focuses her research on various multiphase flow systems that have immense potential for environmental and biomedical applications. At Texas A&M, she is conducting theoretical modeling and experimentation in cavitation of air bubbles for water purification in collaboration with a faculty member in Texas A&M AgriLife Reseach.
Dr. Douglas Allaire holds S.B., S.M., and Ph.D. degrees from the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His current research focuses on the development of computational methods for the analysis, design, and operation of complex systems. He is specifically interested in aspects of uncertainty quantification, multidisciplinary design optimization, and compositional methods for simulation-based design. He is currently working on projects involving the development of computational methods for enabling self-aware unmanned aerial vehicles, the development of optimal algorithms for multi-information source management in design, and the development of methods for enabling correct-by-construction model-based design processes.
Dr. Bonnie Dunbar, Professor at University of Houston, and former NASA astronaut addressed students in a graduate seminar class - MEEN 681.
Fowler Distinguished Lecture Series speaker, Dr. Pramod Khargonekar, assistant director of Directorate of Engineering, NSF (L) with Mr. Donald Fowler ‘66 (C) and Dr. Joe Fowler ‘68 (R).
NASA Astronaut Mr. Mike Fossum ‘80 addressed students in undergraduate seminar class- MEEN 381.
Students working on a project in the Advanced Engine Research Laboratory, headed by Dr. Jacobs.
INNOVATION IN TEACHING How do we distinguish education at Texas A&M? What are the objectives that are considered while designing the program and curriculum?
In Active classrooms, students engage in creative thinking and problem solving, and gain handson experience in the laboratory.
Dr. Tim Jacobs is an associate professor and the undergraduate program coordinator in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University. “In ‘Problem Based Learning,’ students are assigned a problem to solve, and in doing so, they discover the concepts they are supposed to know. This method can be very effective, because as humans, we learn best the things that we discover on our own.”
The overarching objective of the department is to make sure that we are teaching mechanical engineering and ensuring that all the technical content is correct and up to date, and that we are innovative in the way that we disseminate information to our students. Texas A&M places great priority on skillful teaching, and we only hire faculty members who are dedicated to, and passionate about teaching. The Department of Mechanical Engineering is one of the largest departments in the university, as well as the country. We care about student experience and make sure that students do not feel disconnected or disenfranchised due to the large size of the department. Our students have means to have a voice and provide feedback. We use their feedback to enhance our program. Describe some of the innovative teaching methods that are practiced by instructors at Texas A&M. There are several initiatives that our faculty participate in to ensure maximum student engagement and learning. Every student learns differently, and there is no single technique that will engage every student. We try to capture every single learning style we possibly can, and first employ the teaching style that will benefit the largest group of students. We then engage the next group of students with a different teaching style, and so on, until we ensure every student has gained understanding of the subject. Besides traditional lecture style teaching, we teach through ‘Active Classrooms,’ where students are briefly lectured on a concept, and then facilitated to practice the concept they just learned, which will help them to better understand the concept. We have also introduced ‘Problem Based Learning’ in our teaching methods, where students are assigned a problem to solve, and in doing so, they discover the concepts they are supposed to know. An effective way to introduce active-and problem-based learning is through a ‘Flipped Classroom’, where an instructor records a lecture beforehand, and students are assigned to watch the recording and come to class prepared on the subject. The entire class period can then be dedicated to practical learn-
ing. The lecture also becomes a resource that is constantly available for the student to learn from, in addition to textbooks and other learning material. How do these teaching techniques help prepare students for their careers as future engineers? The value an engineer brings to a corporation or a research group is the ability to design, or take a problem that needs to be solved and follow a systematic methodology to find an optimal solution. By assigning students open-ended design problems, we encourage the students to think creatively and find solutions to the problem by applying engineering principles and scientific details learned in the classroom, thus improving their design process. We often invite renowned scholars and leaders in industry, and prominent government agencies such as NASA to guide students and review their projects.
Dr. Maria King works on an experiment with a student in the Bio Chem Air Quality Lab
â€œThe value an engineer brings to a corporation or a research group is the ability to design. By assigning students open-ended design problems, we encourage the students to think creatively. â€œ
Student projects reviewed by a team of NASA members in MEEN 402- Intermediate Design Course
How has technology influenced the classroom? The most substantial advantage of technology assisting the classroom is the ease of disseminating a video lecture. Today there are countless videos available on the internet that explain scientific concepts, often by professors at reputed universities. Students can be assigned to view these videos to understand the theory. This frees up the instructorâ€™s time to develop a more engaging and enriching instructional activity for the class period, and apply themselves in areas in which they are most effective. What can students do to gain the most from their education at Texas A&M? The best time to make mistakes and learn from them, without very serious negative consequences, is when you are a student. Students should explore various research topics, ask questions, seek help from teachers and friends, and enrich their college experience by taking advantage of all the opportunities and resources Texas A&M has to offer.
Dr. Debjyoti Banerjee and graduate student Mr. Hongjoo Yang examine a wafer with silicon nanofins.
Students review the Solidworks model of the hexacopter.
3D printed model of the hexacopter.
INTERDISCIPLINARY RESEARCH Please tell us about your field of research and your focus in the area. Dr. Bryan Rasmussen is an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and director of the Industrial Assessment Center at Texas A&M University. “We are working in conjunction with Texas A&M Utilities and Energy Management Division and testing some of our ideas on university campus buildings. This is a hugely interdisciplinary project, and students from different fields of engineering have a lot of fun working together.” “Energy conservation is a significant issue in today’s world, and what we do in training students and finding opportunities to save energy is directly beneficial to the community.”
Our research has two main thrusts. First, in the Industrial Assessment Center, we train students to conduct energy audits of industrial facilities, and take them on weekly visits to regional manufacturers. The students then compile a report of potential cost-saving measures for the facility through energy efficiency improvements, waste minimization, and productivity changes. Second, in our research lab we develop methods to improve building energy efficiency, specifically by using intelligent controls. The goal is to reduce energy usage while maintaining occupant comfort. In most building energy management systems, one can achieve the same result in various ways. Our goal is to automatically choose the ways that use the least amount of energy, so the occupant is still comfortable but the system as a whole is using less energy. For example, in a building system, the primary chiller and the various air handling units (AHUs) work together to provide air conditioning. You may be able to run the chiller harder while using less fan power, or vice versa, to achieve the same amount of air conditioning, our systems coordinate the actions between the different systems so that they use the least amount of energy as a whole. Our projects also include work for air conditioning companies such as Honeywell and Emerson, in modeling and controlling their systems. What is the most exciting project you are working on? The project we are most excited about is funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). We are working in conjunction with Texas A&M Utilities and Energy Management Division and testing some of our ideas on university campus buildings, and determining how much energy is saved. What is the most unique project you are working on? For the past two years, we have designed UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) in the form of quadcopters and hexacopters, which are small helicopters that function with rotors, that we fly through
buildings to conduct autonomous energy assessments and thus help reduce the amount of resources required to conduct energy audits. We also integrate the UAV with laser technology, to create a system that generates three dimensional internal and external models of the buildings as the UAV flies through, and around the building. These models can be integrated with building rendering and analysis programs and other simulation software used for research. This project is part of the AggiE-Challenge program, and is a hugely interdisciplinary project, and students from different fields of engineering have a lot of fun working together. Can you elaborate on the multidisciplinary nature of this project? We have in the team, students from mechanical engineering who do the mechanical system design and sensor selection. Team members from computer science help us with the computer vision and coding aspects of the project. Electrical engineering students help us solve our power problems with both the vehicle and the sensors. Students studying aerospace engineering help us fly the vehicles, and civil engineering and architecture students help us understand how we can make the system work in real buildings with real occupants. What is the impact of your research? Reducing energy usage is the most direct way our research impacts the environment. Besides that, smart management and operation of building systems helps reduce the consumption of refrigerants, which ultimately helps reduce global warming. We also add value in terms of student education. Energy conservation is a significant issue in today’s world, and what we do in training students and finding opportunities to save energy is directly beneficial to the community.
Students conduct a test flight.
Dr. Rasmussen with his Interdisciplinary Research Group at the Texas A&M Industrial Assesment Center.
The AggiE-Challenge program is sponsored by the Dwight Look College of Engineering at Texas A&M University and aims to actively engage undergraduate students in multidisciplinary team projects related to the major engineering challenges facing our society, as articulated by publications like the National Academy of Engineering’s list of “Grand Challenges.”
Tension-torsion test rig.
Dr. Srinivasa with his research group.
COMPLIANT SELF-ADAPTIVE MATERIALS AND COMPONENTS
Dr. Arun Srinivasa is the associate department head and a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University. “If one were to rethink the processes of how one creates components from materials, and “ grows “ or “tailors” them into their final form, with functionality, the properties and functions of the components could be predetermined and predesigned, which could uncover a wealth of possible applications that would technologically advance the human race by leaps and bounds.” “Whether or not an idea or concept would actually materialize in the future, it is always a good exercise to imagine futuristic possibilities with technology, as it could inspire ideas that could be applied in practice in other limited ways.”
Muscles in the human body react to various kinds of stimuli and perform several functions, either voluntarily as in the case of skeletal muscles, or involuntarily, as in the case of cardiac and smooth muscles. The human muscular system doesn’t require monitoring. The pupils of the eye will automatically contract immediately when exposed to bright light. The human breathing process, though autonomous, can be overridden and be regulated voluntarily. Dr. Srinivasa’s major research target is to create ‘smart’ materials, or more precisely, compliant, self-adaptive structures and components that would react intelligently to stimuli to fulfill predetermined requirements, and are intuitive and reactive like the muscles in the human body. The current state-of-the-art in technology has achieved this goal to a small extent, but the technology has nowhere near been explored and exploited to harness its full potential. How does a muscle change its form, and contract and expand, build with training, and atrophy without use? Dr. Srinivasa theorizes that the key to this is to realize that for most man-made materials, the sensing, actuation, and motion functions are separated into individual components (sensors, motors, linkages, etc) and then assembled. On the other hand, for biological materials, these functions are integrated at an atomic or molecular or microscopic level. If one were to rethink the processes of how one creates components from materials, and “ grows “ or “tailors” them into their final form, with functionality , the properties and functions of the components could be predetermined and predesigned, which could uncover a wealth of possible applications that would technologically advance the human race by leaps and bounds. Various smart materials have already found several applications in today’s world, some of which we may not even recognize as smart technology. For example, the bitumen tar road. A crack on a tar road will automatically heal itself on a hot day, as the entire matrix softens. This is an example of self-repair or self-healing based on external mechanical or heat stimulus. A very interesting category of smart materials are shape-memory alloys (SMAs), which are a mixture of two or more metals, and possess a special property of being able to “memorize” a certain shape, and the capability to revert to that shape even after being deformed, when a stimulus (in most cases, heat) is applied. The movement generated by the change of shape of the object, generates a mechanical force and
can hence enable an object to function as an actuator (a device used to move or control a mechanism or system), and can be used to replace heavy motors to perform the same function.
of weak and/or narrow arteries. If the artery gets larger, the stent grows larger too, through shape memory action. But if the artery starts to constrict in diameter and creates a squeezing action, the mechanical force will trigger the shape memory material to reshape in such a way that would prevent the artery from collapsing. Over time the stent dissolves and becomes a part of the heart tissue.
Shape memory alloys were first discovered in 1932 by physicist Arne Olander, when he was working on gold-cadmium alloys. In 1961, another shape-memory alloy, nickel-titanium alloy, was accidentally discovered by U.S. Navy researchers. Even though research on this technology has been ongoing since the 1960’s, we began seeing applications of the technology on a commercial scale only from the 1990s, as any new component introduced has to go through numerous safety tests, especially if new materials are made for creating infrastructure or everyday tools.
SMAs when used in the structural frame of a building in the form of cables or rods, dissipate seismic shock and help the structure withstand earthquakes. These methods are being adopted in Italy and other parts of the world to retrofit historic buildings to withstand earthquakes. Whether or not an idea or concept would actually materialize in the future, it is always a good exercise to imagine futuristic possibilities with technology, as it could inspire ideas that could be applied in practice in other limited ways. In the very far future, perhaps shape memory materials or other such compliant, self-adaptive materials would be used to create truly morphing structures. A fantastic application of that could be a collapsible house that could be transported on site in a small package, and at the press of a button would unfold into a larger structure that is made of sturdy materials, habitable for a long term. The unfolding mechanism could work quite similar to an umbrella. One doesn’t tend to think about an umbrella as a very complex design, but it is really an impressive example of engineering. Another application could be a wheelchair that could morph into a light weight and sturdy exoskeleton for a person of disability, which would allow him or her to perform daily chores that would require standing up, sitting down, and climbing, with relative ease, and very close in form to a physically capable person. Even though we are technologically far off from these goals, we are still making significant advances in this field, and some day science fiction may become reality.
SMAs could be used to generate mechanical force in places where ample solar or other heat sources are available, but without ready access to other forms of power. For example, an adjustment to the angle of a solar panel in a desert could be made with the help of electric motors and /or batteries, but the system would require a lot of maintenance. Using SMAs to generate a similar mechanical movement in the solar panel would require no maintenance at all, once installed. SMAs are remarkably stable. They do not corrode, and are not affected by extreme fluctuations in temperature. Aerospace companies have successfully demonstrated the use of SMAs to reduce jet engine noise. Jet engine nozzles and the back of the nacelle (an enclosure separate from the main body of the aircraft that holds spare engines, fuel, or their equipment) at the rear of the jet engine are designed with serrated edges called chevrons, which are embedded with SMAs. Heat generated during takeoff and landing warps the chevrons into the jet exhaust flow, which eliminates the high pitched whistle sound of the engine. Once the aircraft is at cruise altitude, the chevrons revert back to a streamlined position, ideal for flight. Auto and boat manufacturers are incorporating the use of SMAs and polymers to design futuristic vehicles that would self-heal in the event of damage. Dents on the body of a vehicle would no longer require being pounded by a heavy mechanical force to get evened out, but would simply require application of heat from a source such as a hair dryer.
Dr. Srinivasa’s overarching interest is to participate in vertical integration of design, by collaborating with scientists and engineers from different backgrounds such as materials, mechanics, design and construction, and finding breakthrough solutions to challenging problems.
SMAs serve several biomechanical applications. Surgical tools and probes made of SMAs, can change shape once inside the body and navigate flexibly, hence allowing for smaller incisions, made during the operation. Carpal tunnel syndrome pain can be relieved with wrist braces made of SMAs, that will support the wrist, yet allow controlled flexibility to achieve some movement, thus not completely handicapping the patient. SMAs are also used in orthodontic practice. Dental braces made of shape memory alloys are super elastic, and apply a steady corrective force to the teeth at different stages of alignment, eliminating the need of frequent adjustments to the braces. Some types of shape memory materials, which include shape memory polymers, are biodegradable. These have found wide application in the form of ‘stents’, which are small mesh tubes that are used to support the inner walls
SMA Wires reinforced in a silicone mould.
Liquid - Based Nanomaterials manufactured in Dr. Liang’s Lab.
USING NANOMATERIALS TO IMPROVE ENERGY EFFICIENCY
Dr. Hong Liang is a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University.
“The best part of my work is to see my students graduate. When the students join school, they bring fresh ideas, and are open-minded and eager to learn new things. By the time they graduate, they have explored their research topics in depth, and they become experts in their respective fields. I can tell that they will make great accomplishments and contribute their knowledge to science, and it feels extremely rewarding to me as a teacher.” “Texas A&M is a huge school, and offers a very conducive environment to conduct exciting research. The faculty members are supportive to one-another, and the students are high - quality and great to work with.”
Dr. Liang is an interdisciplinary researcher, trained as a materials scientist, applying her knowledge in the field of mechanical engineering. Her research interests include surface property behavior and relations, nanotribology, tribochemistry, bio-nanointerface, biomaterials, nanomanufacturing, and chemo-mechanical-polishing (CMP). Due to the nature of her research, her research group is comprised of students with diverse backgrounds in science and engineering disciplines. They work together as a team, and create innovative materials such as nanomaterials, biomaterials, and their composites, and examine their surface and interface properties. The team then looks for potential applications of these materials. Presently Dr. Liang’s team is working on the application of nanomaterials to serve as lubricants such as liquids and grease. Lubricants play an important role in our daily life and manufacturing processes, such as keeping cars and equipment running longer and more efficiently. In a passenger car, the frictional loss in engine, transmission, and other rubbing parts consumes at least one-third of the fuel energy. Dr. Liang’s research group is actively involved in finding alternative ways to improve the performance of novel lubricants that are critical for energy saving. Their most exciting recent discovery was finding the effectiveness of some nanoparticles in a lubricant. When added to an engine oil, it was found that the friction could be reduced by as much as 40%. The nanomaterials that Dr. Liang’s group created have displayed very interesting and intriguing tribological and fluid properties. Nanomaterials are especially versatile and functional. Since the intermolecular forces between particles and between particle and base lubricants are relatively weak, through control in particle shape and size one can basically “in situ” control the performance of a lubricant. Some nanomaterials have been studied extensively as solid lubricants. When a shear force is applied, the weak interfacial force enables materials to slide over each other. Graphite is a typical example of van der Waals forces at work. When we use a pencil, the black graphite is sheared off from its tip and attached to a piece of paper. We also know that a pencil slides on the paper, which makes writing a fun experience – due to friction. Dr. Liang’s group is studying the mechanisms of using specialized nanomaterials as lubricant additives with the aim to create more effective nanoparticles and more efficient lubricants. Her research has shown that these lubricants are able to help lift up two surfaces that are rubbing against each other, and can be transported to the contact surface rather effectively.
The viscosity of the lubricant can be tuned by varying particle concentration. There are other interesting behaviors, still to be uncovered. Nanomaterials are of huge interest in many industrial applications. The major drawback in wide-scale applications of nanomaterials is the scalability of production of nanomaterials. They can be created in a lab, but mass production of nanomaterials is difficult and sometimes toxic. To overcome this problem, Dr. Liang and her students work with liquid-based particles, which are easier to produce and are also safer to handle. They employ several different methods to create nanomaterials, the underlying concept of each method being the introduction of an energy field into the chemicals used to generate the materials. Some of the methods are through chemical redeposition, by thermal energy derived from heating chemicals, with microwaves, and with ultraviolet light. When the materials start to form, they go through a nuclear phase and a growth phase. In the nuclear phase the materials are very tiny particles. By controlling the growth phase, one can derive materials of different sizes and shape. Dr. Liangâ€™s group will continue to work with nanomaterials and their composites in the future that would provide alternative solutions to existing problems, and serve new applications. The challenges remain in obtaining a better understanding of behavioral properties of nanomaterials in a dynamic mechanical system. Her team will continue to develop novel methods to probe the changes of rubbing surfaces, and pinpoint interfacial interactions between nanoparticles, fluid, and rubbing surfaces. They aim to reduce the energy loss in a typical car engine from one-third to one-fourth in the near future.
Graduate student Mr. Huaping Xiao conducting experiments using a Tribometer to evlauate the wear resistance of a new material he developed.
Dr. Liang gained significant industry experience before joining the faculty at Texas A&M, which proved valuable in giving her a lot of insight and direction for her research goals. She continues to collaborate with companies in the oil and gas, energy, and chemical sectors. Research from her lab has helped the industry with effective ways of polishing the surface finish in semiconductors used for computer chips. Her current research on lubricants will not only benefit the automotive industry and improve manufacturing processes, but will also result in making a positive impact on the environment.
Evaluating the strength of a silk fiber manufactured in Dr. Liangâ€™s Lab.
A super strong transparent composite created in Dr. Liangâ€™s Lab.
Students in the Surface Science Laboratory, headed by Dr. Liang.
Share your pride in being a woman engineer.
Ms. Andrea Abeln is a senior in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, expected to graduate in May 2014. During her four years at Texas A&M, Andrea has participated in numerous student organizations, held various leadership positions, received several honors and awards, and spent two summers as an engineering intern, all while maintaining one of the highest GPAs in the department. Her decision to pursue mechanical engineering spurred from her love of physics in high school. The broad scope of the field of mechanical engineering appealed to her. She has also inspired other students to pursue engineering. As the Future A&M Engineers (FAME) Co-Chair, she hosted 150 high school students at the FAME Conference in Fall 2013, and many of these students decided to enroll in engineering school. She finds it very rewarding to have made an impact on someone’s life, and this is a college experience that will always hold special sentiment for her. Andrea has worked as a Project Engineer intern with two separate divisions of the BP company. Her most exciting experience was spending two weeks offshore aboard an IMR vessel observing subsea equipment installation and testing. During her internship, she also traveled to Nebraska to assist with the establishment of a wind farm. After graduation, Andrea will work for OneSubsea, a Cameron and Schlumberger joint venture company, where she will be a part of their Project Management Training Program. After two years of training and rotations, she will be a certified Project Manager. She plans to return to school after gaining several years of work experience to pursue an M.B.A. degree. Reflecting back on her time as a student, Andrea is thankful for all the opportunities that Texas A&M University presented to her to excel in her career. The classes she took prepared her toward being a professional, and a team player. Her favorite class was MEEN 364 - Dynamics Systems and Controls. She is oriented toward the dynamics aspect of the subject, and thinks Dr. Won-Jon Kim, who taught the class is a great professor. The Texas A&M University culture, and the friendliness of its people have become part of her. She always puts a penny on Sully before her exams, and claims she has never sat down during a football game, or left early. She will leave Texas A&M with beautiful memories of the sprawling and scenic Texas A&M campus, the warm Aggie traditions, and life-long friendships.
I love engineering. I believe in what I’m doing and I’m proud of what I’ve achieved. Any girl who’s interested in the subject shouldn’t be discouraged by the number of men in the field. Women may be greatly outnumbered, but if you show your passion and work hard, you’ll shine among the rest. What is unique about the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M? Now that I’m a senior, it feels as though the mechanical engineering department has become a sort of family. Everyone knows almost everybody in class, and we know the advisors and professors. I really enjoy that. The professors in the department are very friendly and will respond to students’ hellos in the hall. In addition, because the offices are right across the sky-walk, the advisors and professors are always nearby and easily accessible. I’ve found this to be very helpful during my four years here. How do you balance your academic and social life? I work hard to manage my time, so that I can do all that I’m passionate about. I always plan ahead to have homework done, so I can spend some carefree time with my friends later in the week. Even so, there were many Friday and Saturday nights I spent studying, as my education was my top priority. I believe that if you work hard, good things will come to you.
What are the benefits of receiving an education from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University?
Mr. Carlos Lopez is a graduate student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University. He was recently awarded the highly prestigious NASA Harriett G. Jenkins Graduate Fellowship, and an opportunity to work on his research project at NASA. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M, with a minor in physics. Carlos is advised by Dr. Partha Mukherjee, who joined Texas A&M as an assistant professor in January 2012. Carlos became involved in undergraduate research during his junior year, when he worked with Dr. Mukherjee on a project centered on active battery thermal management. His research thesis for the Undergraduate Research Scholar (UGRS) program led him to graduate as a Research Scholar and Thompson Outstanding Senior Award winner. His research experience with Dr. Mukherjee convinced him to continue his education at Texas A&M University and pursue a master’s degree. His research focuses on the study of thermal aspects of lithium-ion batteries (LIBs), primarily for use in electric vehicles (EVs). EVs allow for the utilization of alternative energy sources, including renewables, which can greatly lower petroleum dependence and eliminate tailpipe emissions. However, growth of the EV market is limited primarily by the range, charge time, and cost of the vehicles, all of which are linked directly to the battery. LIBs are the most popular type of battery for EVs, due to high energy and power density, but are particularly sensitive to temperature. This presents a problem, as EV batteries need to be capable of performing well in a wide range of temperatures, and are required to be extremely safe. One aspect of Carlos’ study is battery thermal management, which involves improving the techniques used to cool and heat LIBs, through application of a variety of heat transfer enhancement methods. Another approach involves modeling LIBs with a coupled electrochemical and thermodynamic perspective at multiple length scales. A better understanding of the thermal effects starting at the single particle level to the electrode physics and the macro-level battery module will aid in the modeling of LIBs. Dr. Judith Jeevarajan, Battery Group Lead for Safety and Advanced Technology at NASA Johnson Space Center, is the collaborating scientist on the project. Carlos expects to graduate in May 2015, and plans to work in the industry for a few years and come back to school to pursue an M.B.A. or a Ph.D. He is most interested in the field of energy and sustainability, and eventually aims to start his own clean energy company. He believes that sustainable research and design in engineering is becoming increasingly critical to technological development, particularly in the energy sector, and aims to make an impact in this field.
The Department of Mechanical Engineering has the distinct advantage of the Aggie Network, as our connection with industry is stronger than that of any other institution I know. The department consistently demonstrates the importance of balancing focus on teaching engineering science/design and on research efforts in a multidisciplinary manner. Rankings have shown our program is gaining in prestige every year and recruiters consistently rank Texas A&M mechanical engineering graduates as top candidates due to our well-rounded education and leadership skills. It is for these reasons that graduates of our program have one of the highest employment rates in the nation and that we retain so many undergraduates for graduate school, just as in my case. How has your advisor Dr. Partha Mukherjee influenced you, and helped guide your career? Dr. Mukherjee is one of the most driven and passionate people I know. His continual enthusiasm rubs off on everyone he interacts with, including me. He is always motivating us to push the limits of what we can do, which I believe is extremely important not only in research, but in life as well. Dr. Mukherjee’s guidance is invaluable and his advice will surely stay with me throughout my career.
Mr. William E. Dark ‘54 is a graduate of Texas A&M University, and president of White Oak Developers, Inc. He also serves on the College of Geosciences Advisory Council. “The best time in life to make the decision of someday being an entrepreneur is while one is still in college, and this program will provide that start.”
Making this gift is important to me, because I want to enable others to experience the joy of starting something of their own and fulfilling a service or a manufacturing need, which will ultimately affect many lives positively.
Tell us about the ‘Professor of Practice’ you recently established in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. The Professor of Practice is established to start a course that would help spark the interest of the undergraduate students of mechanical engineering in entrepreneurship. The course will guide the students on how to start a company by following through an idea they determine to have value, how to develop a business plan, how to raise the capital for such a plan, and the efficient undertaking of that plan with the right employees. The best time in life to make the decision of someday being an entrepreneur is while one is still in college, and this program will provide that start.
What is the impact that you hope this gift will achieve? My hope is that a few good men and women, as we say in the military, will take benefit of the opportunity the Professor of Practice program would provide, and get acquainted with the world of entrepreneurship. If these young people determine that they have the courage and passion to venture into this world, and feed their interest over a few years of training, it is quite likely that he or she might start their own company in the future.
There are business aspects that can only be learned through practice, and hence it is of utmost importance that the individual we determine apt for the role of a Professor of Practice to teach this course, would require to have experience in entrepreneurship, and involvement in starting and/or acquiring companies. Being an entrepreneur is different from being an employee of a major company.
We need more entrepreneurs in the country. Small businesses account for about 99 percent of startups, and expand the nation’s economy by providing employment to people, and increasing the gross national product of the country through their product or service. It is absolutely essential that we continue to promote new businesses, and I hope my gift achieves that.
Why was it important for you to make this gift?
What would you say to others in a similar position as yours?
When I was young, I began my career as an engineer at Humble Oil, now known as Exxon. I left Humble Oil when I was 27 to form my own company. Since then, I have been involved in starting and acquiring several different companies, and managing these businesses for more than 50 years. I have been described as a serial entrepreneur. My journey has not only been extremely fulfilling for my family and me, but has also benefited my employees and their families, and our community.
I would encourage other Aggie graduates, especially those who graduated from mechanical engineering, to get on board. We can contribute to this program, and affect a positive change in the world by guiding young Aggie graduates at the prime time in their lives, toward the road to entrepreneurship.
Why your gift matters.... One of the things I enjoy most about helping to raise funding support for the college is working with people who face challenges head on and seek solutions. Our mechanical engineering graduates have gone on to make significant contributions to the betterment of society and the engineering profession. The next generation of Aggie engineers who are in our classrooms today are bright and eager to build upon that reputation, and ensure mechanical engineering graduates from Texas A&M remain a driving force in innovation, advancement and achievement. As you may know, the 25 by 25 controlled enrollment growth initiative is underway and is not only about addressing the critical shortage of engineers and providing more qualified students the opportunity to pursue an engineering degree, but to enhance the quality of the excellent education we deliver. We simply could not do it without the generous support of our former students through scholarships, fellowships, endowed faculty positions, facilities, research infrastructure and many other key initiatives. This type of support will be essential as we move forward to elevate Texas A&M Engineering in our mission of teaching, research and service. I encourage you to join us and I look forward to working with you in the future. Andy Acker,
Senior Director of Development. (979) 845-5113 email@example.com
3123 TAMU, College Station Texas 77843-3123 Ph: 979.845.1251, Fax: 979.845.3081 engineering.tamu.edu/mechanical
2014 Pi Tau Sigma National Convention held at Texas A&M University. Publication Credits Writing, Editing, Design & Layout, and Photography by Hemali Tanna Co- Editors Dawn Kerstetter Sophia Keen Follow us on Facebook facebook.com/TAMUMechanicalEngineering
Department of Mechanical Engineering Texas A&M university
Published on May 15, 2014
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