Department of Mechanical Engineering Faculty Positions. The department invites applications for five positions in the general areas listed below. These are tenure-track at the levels designated below.
Anybody who has been passed by an ambulance at high speed has experienced a physical effect called the Doppler shift: As the ambulance moves toward the listener, its motion compresses the siren’s sound waves and raises the sound pitch. As the ambulance moves away from the listener, the sound waves get dilated and the pitch is lowered. A listener wearing a blindfold could use this Doppler shift pattern to track the motion of the ambulance.
In a paper published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the authors, Rolf Mueller, professor of mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering, and his doctoral student, Xiaoyan Yin, demonstrate that the ears of bats come with a “built-in ambulance” that creates the same physical effect. Yin and Mueller think the study of ear-generated Doppler shifts in bat biosonar could give rise to new sensory principles that could enable small, yet powerful sensors. An example of this type of sensor would be for drones that can operate in dense foliage or autonomous underwater vehicles navigating near complex underwater structures.
“Piezoelectric materials convert strain and stress into electric charges,” Zheng explained.
The piezoelectric materials come in only a few defined shapes and are made of brittle crystal and ceramic – the kind that require a clean room to manufacture. Zheng’s team has developed a technique to 3D print these materials so they are not restricted by shape or size. The material can also be activated – providing the next generation of intelligent infrastructures and smart materials for tactile sensing, impact and vibration monitoring, energy harvesting, and other applications.
The professorship is a pre-eminent appointment, recognizing remarkable scholarship and service, as well as extraordinary teaching that has influenced the lives of generations of students.
Walter F. O’Brien Jr., the J. Bernard Jones Professor of Mechanical Engineering, passed away July 25 surrounded by his family.
O’Brien, who was born in Roanoke in 1937, received his B.S. and Ph.D. from Virginia Tech in 1960 and 1968, respectively, and he earned his M.S. from Purdue University. He was a member of the Virginia Tech faculty for more than 52 years, and was the first faculty member from the department to receive a named professorship.
On May 2 the second class was inducted into the Mechanical Engineering Society of Distinguished Alumni during a ceremony at the Inn at Virginia Tech.
The society was created in 2018 to formally recognize alumni who demonstrated extraordinary achievement in their careers, and to promote greater interaction between alumni, faculty, staff, and students.