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faculty news N E W S F R O M P E N N ’ S A D VA N C I N G W O M E N I N E N G I N E E R I N G


KATHERINE j. KUCHENBECKER Skirkanich Assistant Professor of Innovation Dept: Mechanical and Applied Mechanics


PhD (Mechanical Engineering), Stanford, ‘06 MS (Mechanical Engineering), Stanford, ‘02 BSc (Mechanical Engineering), Stanford, ‘00

When AWE sat down with the Skirkanich Assistant Professor of Innovation in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics (MEAM), Katherine Kuchenbecker, she had just been notified that she will be tenured and promoted to Associate Professor in MEAM—which we believe makes her complete official title Katherine Julianne Kuchenbecker, Skirkanich Assistant Professor of Innovation Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, future Associate Professor, and former Heartbreaker to the Stars. Read on to find out why and so much more! Where are you from? Los Angeles. California or Philly? Philly, right now! That’s where I live and I love it. Favorite class you took in college? Vehicle Dynamics. Chris Gerdes was the teacher. He’s a Penn alum – Mechanical Engineering M&T. Favorite part about teaching at Penn? The students. Getting to stand on stage with a captive audience three times a week, and they laugh at my jokes! At least most of my jokes. They make me laugh, too. Greatest research milestone? We invented a way to add touch feedback to robotic surgery. This is a hard problem that a lot of people have worked on, and we came up with a very practical, simple, elegant, and effective way to let you feel what the tools are touching during surgery.

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Website: Email:

Pool volleyball or beach volleyball? I’d have to pick pool volleyball. I hate sand, and I like water. But for watching? Beach volleyball. Kerri Walsh, in fact, because she was my friend at Stanford. We were in the same class. I also went to middle school and high school with the future members of Maroon 5. Adam Levine asked me out, and I said no. He was a seventh grader and I was an eighth grader. He had chutzpah. If you could pick a volleyball partner in SEAS who would it be? For SEAS volleyball, I would team up with Kendall Turner, a sophomore currently taking my MEAM 211 course. She’s on Penn’s varsity volleyball team, and I think we could take on anyone in SEAS in doubles. Who would win in a bicycle race, you or your husband, Professor Fiene? Professor Fiene. I’m kind of a slow poke on the bike. He always has to bike behind me so he doesn’t leave me in the dust. But there are many reasons for that. He regularly exercises, and I… do not. And I have the same bicycle I’ve had since I was 16. What are your retirement plans? Scuba diving in the Caribbean. I like being with my family, too, so they’d have to come visit.


5/16/13 4:46 PM


Penn Advancing Women in Engineering Spring 2013 Newsletter


Penn Advancing Women in Engineering Spring 2013 Newsletter