Outstanding Mechanical Engineers (10 Great Careers)

Direct Knowlege Contributor Chelsea Turner
  • By Chelsea Turner, M.A. in Communication Studies
  • Chelsea Turner is a professional college counselor. She is a technical writer with expertise in the humanities with an emphasis in communication studies. Her array of experience in marketing, teaching, and counseling provided her with a broad career scope. Chelsea Turner has a Bachelor’s of Arts in English and a Master’s of Arts in Communication Studies.

From medical technology to automotive safety and more, outstanding mechanical engineers are the backbone of understanding, building, and maintaining many of the systems we have in place. Their discipline applies engineering, mathematics, physics, and materials science to enhance the world’s technology. The work of these ten awesome engineers aims to enhance the realms of medicine, automotive safety, robotics, aeronautics, astronautics, and beyond.

Renowned Fluid Dynamics Engineer: Gareth McKinley, Ph.D.

Gareth McKinley is a mechanical engineer in rheology and fluid dynamics
Gareth McKinley, Ph.D.

At MIT, Gareth McKinley is a School of Engineering Professor of Teaching Innovation. Moreover, his research covers a broad range of interests in rheology and fluid dynamics. Of particular interest to him are extensional rheology of complex fluids, non-Newtonian fluid dynamics, and microrheology and microfluidics.

He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Cambridge. His Ph.D. is from MIT. McKinley also has a large scope of expertise in his field, including the topics of viscoelastic flow instabilities, nanocomposite rheology, hydrogels, and superhydrophobic, superoleophobic and ice-phobic surfaces.

His work yielded many discoveries. McKinley has about 10 patents in his name and more than 275 publications. Additionally, his current work includes the development of an additional 10 patents at MIT.

Beyond his research and academic commitments, he has served on the editorial board of peer-reviewed journals like the Journal of Rheology and Journal of Non-Newtonian Fluid Mechanics. McKinley also served as Chair of the Institute Committee on Nominations at MIT, President of the Society of Rheology, and APS Division of Fluid Dynamics Fellow. He was also on the US National Committee on Theoretical and Applied Mechanics. Furthermore, McKinley earned the Gold Medal of the British Society of Rheology, the Frenkiel Award, and the Bingham Medal of the Society of Rheology, to name a few.

Outstanding Mechanical Engineer: Read about Gareth McKinley.

Outstanding Mechanical Engineer: Katia Bertoldi, Ph.D.

Katia Bertoldi is a mechanical engineer at Harvard
Katia Bertoldi, Ph.D.

At Harvard University, Katia Bertoldi runs the Bertoldi Group. The group hopes to establish relationships between the internal structure of various materials and their properties. Also, she is the William and Ami Kuan Danoff Professor of Applied Mechanics among other faculty titles.

She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Trento, Italy and her master’s degree from Chalmers University of Technology in Goteborg, Sweden. Later, she received her Ph.D. in Mechanics of Materials and Structures from the University of Trento. Her research primarily focuses on the use of continuum mechanics and mechanical behavior of novel materials on a small schedule.

Her work yielded many sources of recognition. For example, Bertoldi holds patents in materials design and pattern production. She is also published in numerous peer-reviewed journals. Ultimately, her research aims to understand and discover materials that have strong implications in the fields of acoustics, optics, and electronics.

Furthermore, Bertoldi was an organizer for the Workshop on Scale Transitions in Space and Time for Materials and for the Symposium on Acoustic Band Gaps in Micro-structured Materials. She was also a Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute for Multiscale Materials Systems. Her award list includes Outstanding Presentation by Younger Scientists by ICTAM and the JISTEC-REES Fellowship from the Japanese Center of Chemical and Physical Research.

Outstanding Mechanical Engineer: Read about Katia Bertoldi.

Published Fluid Dynamics Engineer: Tyler Van Buren, Ph.D.

Tyler Van Buren teaches mechanical engineering at Princeton
Tyler Van Buren, Ph.D.

At Princeton University, Tyler Van Buren is a Research Specialist in Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering. He is focusing primarily on fluid dynamics such as inspired propulsion, turbulent boundary layer structure, stability, and scalar transport. Van Buren’s research is truly multi-disciplinary, drawing on knowledge and culminating in implications in biology, chemistry, materials, hematology, and electronics. 

He completed all of his education, including his Ph.D., at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York.  Van Buren’s research is significant because it not only has theoretical value but the real-world application, as well.

He has published in many forums from book chapters to peer-reviewed journal articles. Van Buren presents his work at conferences, too, in addition to publishing. Moreover, he was a reviewer for numerous journals, including the Journal of Fluid Mechanics, Physical Review Fluids, Experiment Thermal and Fluid Science, and Experiments in Fluids.

Beyond his academic commitments, he actively participates in the research community. Van Buren is a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the American Physical Society. Additionally, he was on the advisory committee of the Turbulence and Shear Flow Phenomena conference. He also chaired the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics. Van Buren also received a Boeing Supplier of the Year Award, a Boeing Performance Excellence Award, and a Rensselaer Medal scholarship.

Outstanding Mechanical Engineer: Read about Tyler Van Buren.

Outstanding Geotechnical Engineer: Domniki Asimaki, Ph.D.

Domniki Asimaki teaches geotechnical engineering
Domniki Asimaki, Ph.D.

At the California Institute of Technology, Domniki Asimaki is a Professor of Mechanical and Civil Engineering. Her research primarily focuses on understanding geotechnical engineering, geophysics, computational mechanics, and structural dynamics. Moreover, her research group at Caltech is working to understand the seismic response of topographic features. They hope to find ways to design underground infrastructure that will not be affected by earthquakes.

She completed her undergraduate work at the University of Athens. Asimaki continued to MIT to complete her master’s curriculum and her Ph.D.

For her contributions, Asimaki earned the Arthur Casagrande Award, the Shamsher Prakash Research Award in Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering, and the Young Investigator Award of the International Society of Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering.  She also contributed to multiple books and peer-reviewed journals. Of note, Asimaki’s research has been supported by funding and grants from the Strategic Energy Institute at Georgia Tech and the Southern California Earthquake Center, among others.

Outstanding Mechanical Engineer: Read about Domniki Asimaki.

Outstanding Robotics Engineer: Aaron D. Ames, Ph.D.

Aaron D. Ames studies robotics
Aaron D. Ames, Ph.D.

At the California Institute of Technology, Aaron Ames is a Bren Professor of Mechanical and Civil Engineering and Control and Dynamical Systems. He also heads the Advanced Mechanical Bipedal Experimental Robotics (AMBER) Lab at Caltech.

Interestingly, he earned two bachelor’s degree from the University of St. Thomas. He then pursued a master’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley. His Ph.D. is from Cal Tech. 

Ames’ research is primarily focused on robotics, hybrid systems, and cyber-physical systems. It has major implications in the ability to have robotic assistive devices that walk like humans. Interestingly, he is also currently working with Disney researcher Lanny Smoot on robot autonomy and machine learning. The duo is accomplishing this research by creating objects that can self-navigate and perform a variety of stunts.

For his work, Ames has been the recipient of a variety of recognitions. His collection includes the NSF CAREER Award, the Bernard Friedman Memorial Prize in Applied Mathematics, the Donald P. Eckman Award, and the Leon O. Chua Award for Achievement in Nonlinear Science.

Moreover, Ames is on the cutting edge of robotics research, seeking the best methods to bring robotics to “life.”  His research will be foundational for much more research to come in the 21st century.

Outstanding Mechanical Engineer: Read about Aaron D. Ames.

Awarded Robotics Engineer: O. Burak Ozdoganlar, Ph.D.

O. Burak Ozdoganlar is a mechanical engineer at Carnegie Mellon University
O. Burak Ozdoganlar, Ph.D.

Burak Ozdoganlar is a Ver Planck Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. Additionally, he is Associate Director of the Engineering Research Accelerator and Chief Technology Officer of the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute.

Ozdoganlar earned his bachelor’s degree from Istanbul Technical University in Turkey. Upon coming to the US, he earned his master’s degree from Ohio State University and his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. 

The research in his Multiscale Manufacturing and Dynamics Laboratory is primarily focused on manufacturing science and engineering. The goal of the lab is to discover scientific and technological advances.  Implications of the research affect the fields of medicine, energy, robotics, and aerospace, in particular.

Moreover, his research funding comes from the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Health, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and Private Companies, State of Pennsylvania organization. Additionally, he publishes frequently on his findings. His work can be found in a number of peer-reviewed journals.

For his efforts, Ozdoganlar earned the Blackball Machine Tool and Gage Award, the CAREER Award, the Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award, and Best Paper of the Year Award, to name a few. He was also a Russell V. Trader Career Faculty Fellow and a Struminger Teaching Fellow.

Outstanding Mechanical Engineer: Read about O. Burak Ozdoganlar.

Published Robotics Engineer: Mark Campbell, Ph.D.

Mark Campbell teaches robotic systems at Cornell University
Mark Campbell, Ph.D.

At Cornell University, Mark Campbell is a John A. Mellowes Professor in Mechanical Engineering. He is also the Academic Program Director for Engineering and Technology. His primary areas of research include artificial intelligence, satellite systems, robotics, and space and science engineering. Furthermore, he co-directs the Autonomous Systems Lab, which focuses on estimation and control of robotic systems.

Campbell earned his bachelor’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University. He obtained both this master’s degree and his Ph.D. from MIT. Additionally, he is a current  Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He has also held visiting fellowships with several other universities. Interestingly, Campbell also worked on MACE, a laboratory flown on the Space Shuttle Endeavor.

Beyond is academic work and research, he is a member of the Air Force Science Advisory Board and is an Associate Director on the American Automatic Control Council.  His efforts earned him the Douglas Whitney Award, the AIAA Best Paper Award, and the Best Conference Poster Award from the International Symposium on Distributed Autonomous Robotic Systems. Moreover, Campbell has published a number of peer-reviewed articles. He is also an Associate Editor for a variety of journals. 

Outstanding Mechanical Engineer: Read about Mark Campbell.

Outstanding Biomedical Engineer: Ellen Arruda, Ph.D.

Ellen Arruda teaches mechanical and biomedical engineering
Ellen Arruda, Ph.D.

At the University of Michigan, Ellen Arruda is a Tim Manganello/BorgWarner Department Chair of Mechanical Engineering. Moreover, she teaches in the departments of mechanical and biomedical engineering and in macromolecular science and engineering.

Arruda has a long curriculum vitae. She received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Pennsylvania State University. Her Ph.D. is from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She was also a Fellow of the American Academy of Mechanics, a Fellow of Society of Engineering Science, and a Fellow of American Society of Mechanical Engineers, among others. Her endeavors and scholarship led to her quickly attaining Maria Comninou Collegiate Professor of Mechanical Engineering in her current tenure.

Her research primarily focuses on the mechanical behavior of materials within the body’s tissue engineering of tendon and muscle. Of greatest interest is automotive crash safety as it relates to the body. She works to better understand the mechanical behavior of materials to further knowledge about human bodies reaction to physical trauma. As such, her research can help engineers design the means to better protect people in traumatic situations.

Her work earned the James R. Rice Medal, the Ted Kennedy Family Team Excellence Award, and the Career Development Award, to name a few. Of note, Arruda was featured in the September 2018 edition of Mechanical Engineering Magazine. She has appeared in other news sources, as well, because of her scholarship.

Outstanding Mechanical Engineer: Read about Ellen Arruda.

Published Biomedical Engineer: Chris Rylander, Ph.D.

Chris Rylander works in medical engineering
Chris Rylander, Ph.D.

At the University of Texas at Austin, Chris Rylander is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering. Additionally, he is the Principal Investigator of the Medical Device Laboratory at UT. It is focused on solving healthcare problems in the mechanical engineering design and manufacturing areas. Rylander’s research has the ability to advance medical research and improve the quality of life for all patients.

Of note, he earned his bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. His work has also earned grants from the National Institute of Health, National Science Foundation, and the Wallace Coulter Foundation. 

Perhaps most significant in Rylander’s research is the goal to improve patients’ quality of life. He and his teamwork to advance the amount of scientific knowledge currently available. Rylander also seeks to educate the next generation of mechanical and biomedical engineers.

Beyond his academic commitments, Rylander authors papers on his research. He has published over 30 peer-reviewed articles. Additionally, he is Chair of the Research and Development Committee for the American Society for Lasers in Medicine and Surgery. He is also a member of the Editorial Board of Lasers in Surgery and Medicine and reviews articles for Journal of Biomedical Optics, Lasers in Medical Science, and Optics Letters.

Outstanding Mechanical Engineer: Read about Chris Rylander.

Awarded Biomedical Engineer: Xuanhe Zhao, Ph.D. ⁠

Xuanhe Zhao researches solid mechanics, soft mechanics, and bio-inspired design
Xuanhe Zhao, Ph.D.

At MIT, Xuanhe Zhao is an Associate Professor and Career Development Professor. His primary research interests are in solid mechanics, soft mechanics, and bio-inspired design. Ultimately, he seeks to understand and design soft materials with medical applications such as insulin pumps, IV tubes, catheters, and glucose sensors.

Zhao earned his bachelor’s degree from Tianjin University in China. He then attended Harvard University for his master’s degree and Ph.D. Interestingly, he also holds a master’s degree from University of British Columbia. 

For his efforts, Zhao holds many recognitions. He earned the NSF Career Award, the Early Career Researcher Award, the ONR Young Investigator Award, and the Adhesion Society’s Young Scientist Award, to name a few. Additionally, he is part of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Materials Research Society, and the American Physical Society.

Beyond his academic commitments, Zhao is also the Associate Editor in Chief of Acta Mechanica Sinica. He is also on the Editorial Boards of International Journal of Applied Mathematics and Scientific Reports.  He has also chaired the Technical Committee on Soft Material.

Outstanding Mechanical Engineer: Read about Xuanhe Zhao.