Department of Mechanical Engineering

Commitment to excellence in its teaching, research, scholarship, and service missions.

Jobs at Mechanical Engineering

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.

  1. Faculty Positions in Design, Materials and Manufacturing (3 positions)  Applicants must clearly indicate in their cover letter which one of the three subareas of DMM they are applying.
    1. Design, Materials and Manufacturing - DMM (Design) with emphasis across all areas of design theory and methodology, design automation, and multi-scale modeling; seeking candidates that integrate strongly with an interdisciplinary team of faculty engaged at the intersection of advanced manufacturing and materials research (multidisciplinary design analysis, topology optimization, design for manufacturing, computer-aided design, systems engineering, materials modeling and design.)
    2. DMM (Manufacturing) with emphasis across all areas of advanced manufacturing and materials processing technologies (metals, ceramics, and composites); seeking candidates with expertise in metal Additive Manufacturing processes, hybrid manufacturing processes, and design and fabrication of metamaterials.
    3. DMM (Materials) with emphasis in areas related to modeling, manufacturing , and materials for energy systems; seeking candidates with expertise in energy storage technologies, battery technology from a manufacturing perspective that encompasses the automation of the materials, mechanical, and chemical processes involved, and structure-property-process relationships of materials for energy applications. Search committee chair, Prof. Christopher Williams,
  2. Open Area and Rank Faculty Position - Inviting applications for an endowed/chaired full professor - an exceptionally accomplished scholar with a demonstrated record of extraordinary scholarly achievements, substantial sponsored research, and excellent teaching/advising and service who will create new initiatives within the department and will align the department's research expenditure with top tiered peer institutions. This position is open to all areas of Mechanical or Nuclear Engineering. Joint or courtesy appointments with other departments such as Aerospace and Ocean Engineering, or Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics are possible depending on qualifications. Search committee chair, Prof. Saied Taheri,
  3. Faculty Positions in Robotics and Autonomous Systems (Assistant/Associate level) - Candidate will have expertise in emerging field of Robotics and Autonomous systems with emphasis on areas including, but not limited to, surgical, micro-nano robotics, human-machine interaction, machine learning, bio-inspired and bio-hybrid robotics, social robotics, and synthetic biology, just to mention a few, which are complementary to already existing expertise in the department. Selection criteria will place more emphasis on strength of scholarship and less on the specific area. We are looking for the strongest candidate with experience in theory, modeling, computation, experimentation, or a combination thereof. Search committee chair, Prof. Alexander Leonessa, aleoness@vt.ed


The department is also engaged in a search for two Collegiate Faculty. These will be non-tenure track contract positions at Assistant, Associate, or Full Professor level depending upon the qualifications of the candidate.

These positions will be filled under posting number 511001. Applicants should submit a cover letter, CV including a list of published journal articles and pedagogical achievements, a one-page teaching statement with an indication of teaching preferences, a brief research statement as applicable, and the names of five references. Applications should be received by Nov. 15, 2019, but applications will be considered until the positions are filled. Inquires should be addressed to the search committee chair, Prof. Clint Dancey, For assistance submitting the application, contact Ms. Diana Israel, or (540) 231-6424.

Bats have an ambulance in their ears

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.

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Wing Ng named Alumni Distinguished Professor

Wing Ng, the Christopher C. Kraft Endowed Professor of mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering, has been named an Alumni Distinguished Professor by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.

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.

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In Memoriam: Walter O'Brien

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.

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Five elected to ME Society of Distinguished Alumni

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.

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Mechanical Engineering Senior Design Expo