Message from the Department Head

How can we transform mechanical engineering education to better confront today’s most pressing challenges?

Jonathan Spanier
Jonathan Spanier

At the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics (MEM) we aim to explore the frontiers of the human-machine interface, innovate at the forefront of our discipline and mobilize research in emerging fields to advance human-centric problem-solving. Through critical examination, discussion and coordinated effort, we have recently reassessed our trajectory as leaders in the discipline, a process from which our new Strategic Plan emerged.

The MEM Strategic Plan envisions our department as welcoming, collaborative, and fueled by curiosity. We advance our highly integrated research and learning environment with a commitment to innovative problem-solving locally and globally. Our strategic goals emphasize boundaryless learning, adaptive curricula, enhanced research impact and strength in our community and industry partnerships. As we work to achieve these goals, we are reminded of our moral responsibility as engineers—to consider the ethical questions that arise as we build for the future. This means working towards an inclusive MEM, with a focus on empowering our communities to do good in the world.

Our highly networked, collaborative environment empowers a distinctive kind of engineer: one who is eager to work across STEM fields, collaborate with colleagues in the humanities and social sciences, and take part in breakthrough programs with partner organizations —ranging from advancing manufacturing processes at Endress+Hauser to autonomous vehicle research with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Alongside these powerful hands-on experiences, our students confront engineering challenges with advances in tools and methodologies, including machine learning, bio-inspired and soft robotics, and energy-efficient battery technologies, equipping them to be the next generation of creative problem-solvers.

In every MEM program, we’re taking on the real problems of real people using the values of modern design thinking—making life more equitable and meaningful, whether in our local Philadelphia neighborhoods or communities around the world. Increasingly, our students and graduates will be called upon to lead: developing complex systems, teaching and mentoring new generations of engineers, playing roles in securing peace through improving the lives of those in need. Join us.

Jonathan E. Spanier, PhD
Professor and Department Head