We were pleased with the enthusiastic response to our first issue of MechE Connects last spring. In this issue, I am excited to share with you the wide range of department activities that have occurred in recent months.
Last spring was capped by commencement celebrations in the MechE graduation tent. Our tent has quickly become a tradition, providing a festive gathering place where faculty and students can celebrate. Summer brought the intense focus of faculty, students, and postdocs on research projects. We also had the opportunity to use our laboratories to communicate the excitement of engineering to high school students, through our popular ME Women’s Technology Program, and to entering freshman, through our Discover Ocean Engineering, Discover Mechanical Engineering, and Discover Product Development programs.
This fall, we welcomed 162 sophomores into the department, raising our undergraduate enrollment to 500—the largest in recent history. We also welcomed 525 new graduate students. The combination of exceptional students and faculty working on problems with global impact secures our national and international leadership in mechanical engineering, and we are pleased once again to have our undergraduate and graduate programs ranked #1 by U.S. News & World Report.
Thanks to generous alumni donations, we are transforming our space in the original 19th-century campus buildings into areas suitable for 21st-century education and research. Several labs have been renovated for research by new faculty members. A major renovation of our historic Heat Transfer Laboratory is complete and is highlighted in this issue. We also have transformed our “Mechanical Engineering Corridor” on the first floor of Building 1 into a formal entrance that includes the Mechanical Engineering Student Commons. This new gateway to the department is a central meeting and workspace for our undergraduate and graduate students.
In this issue of MechE Connects, we also celebrate the department’s increasing focus on bringing mechanical engineering solutions to challenges with global and humanitarian impact. We begin with Senior Lecturer Amy Smith SB ’84, SM ’95, named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Amy’s students use technical know-how to solve real problems in developing nations. Her course “Design for Developing Countries,” or D-Lab, has pioneered the inclusion of humanitarian design in the curriculums of major institutions.
You will also learn about the impact of MechE research on another global challenge—the production of clean drinking water in both the developing and the developed world, a topic that several MechE faculty members are researching. In this issue, we highlight work in water purification and desalination.
Finally, let me thank all of you for your continued interest in and support of the Mechanical Engineering Department. We invite you to join us on campus for festivities surrounding MIT’s sesquicentennial, MIT150 Inventional Wisdom. Our open house is on April 30, and you can preview all the Institute’s special events and activities at mit150.mit.edu. We look forward to celebrating 150 years of MIT together.
Mary Boyce, Gail E. Kendall Professor of Engineering
Head of Department