Gala recognizes past and present to celebrate the future of Penn State ME

April 10, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – On April 7, the past, present, and future distinguished voices of Penn State Mechanical Engineering gathered at the Nittany Lion Inn for a celebratory evening. 

“By celebrating a stand-alone Department of Mechanical Engineering, we are recognizing this opportunity to continue innovating our research, undergraduate, and graduate programs with a renewed, distinct focus,” said Karen Thole, distinguished professor and department head of mechanical engineering.

The department boasts a strong, successful history in research innovations and academic impact. First introduced at Penn State in 1881, the mechanical engineering graduate and undergraduate programs are now considered one of the best in the United States, ranked 14th and 16th respectively by U.S. News and World Report. The department enjoys great success at Penn State with outstanding undergraduate and graduate student enrollments, impactful research, and strong support from alumni and friends. With 54 faculty members, more than 330 graduate students, 750 undergraduate students, and more than 11,000 alumni, Penn State mechanical engineers are pioneering new ways to impact our health, happiness, and safety, and often change the way we think about the world.

This impact was apparent at the Gala, where alumni and department heads representing each decade since the 1950’s spoke to the crowd, emceed by two current undergraduate students, Annie Orth and Evan Diewald.  

A common thread woven through the speeches was the growing female representation in the department. Invoking the Mechanical Engineering Reimagined overarching theme, alumnus Brian T. Olsavsky, senior vice president and chief financial officer (CFO) of Amazon.com, said, “Let’s reimagine a world where the career track is equal between men and women. It will not only make the workplace and world better, but it will bring everyone to a better economic place that an education in engineering can provide.”

He added, “What is the role of mechanical engineering in the future? Here, we are going to reimagine it. Our graduates will be those problems solvers we need in the world.”

The department merged with nuclear engineering in 1997 by then-Harold and Inge Marcus Dean of Engineering David N. Wormley and Richard C. Benson, then-department head of mechanical engineering and now president of the University of Texas at Dallas.  

Returning for the event, Benson said, “I’m so thrilled to be here. I am always inspired by the energy and potential of Penn State mechanical engineers.”

Also speaking at the event were alumni Robert Swope (’59), Clyde Shuman (’67), Shyam Lal (’80), Heather Quedenfeld (’91), and Mimi Overbaugh (’15).

Before the evening concluded, Thole returned to the stage to share her great appreciation for the faculty, staff, and students whose ambition and hard work propel the department to success. She said, “We also have extremely passionate alumni and we couldn’t be more proud. It’s been an honor to serve this department and at this pivotal point, we are ready to move forward with great opportunities ahead of us!”

Photos from the event can be found on Flickr.

 

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MEDIA CONTACT:

 

Erin Cassidy Hendrick, emc5045@psu.edu

“What is the role of mechanical engineering in the future? Here, we are going to reimagine it. Our graduates will be those problems solvers we need in the world.” - Brian T. Olsavsky, senior vice president and chief financial officer (CFO) of Amazon.com

 
 

About

With more than 60 faculty members, 330 graduate students, and 800 undergraduate students, the Penn State Department of Mechanical Engineering embraces a culture that welcomes individuals with a diversity of backgrounds and expertise. Our faculty and students are innovating today what will impact tomorrow’s solutions to meeting our energy needs, homeland security, biomedical devices, and transportation systems. We offer B.S. degrees in mechanical engineering as well as resident (M.S., Ph.D.) and online (M.S.) graduate degrees in mechanical engineering. See how we’re inspiring change and impacting tomorrow at me.psu.edu.

Department of Mechanical Engineering

137 Reber Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4400

Phone: 814-865-2519