ASME honors ME faculty with top international awards

Professors awarded prestigious Ballal Early Career, Sia Nemat-Nasser Early Career, N.O. Myklestad, Thar Energy, Design Automation, and Robert E. Abbot Awards.

September 24, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Recognizing the innovative contributions of outstanding Penn State faculty in the field of mechanical engineering, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) has bestowed several prestigious awards to mechanical engineering professors Jacqueline O’Connor, Tak-Sing Wong, Chris Rahn, and Tim Simpson.

Jacqueline O’Connor, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, has been selected by ASME’s International Gas Turbine Institute (IGTI) as the 2018 Dilip R. Ballal Early Career Engineer Award winner. The award is intended to honor an individual who has had outstanding accomplishments during the beginning of their career.

Her research has led to identifying key pathways for combustion instabilities and the role of those instabilities in flame dynamics, and within her first year, she received research contracts from important industry partners. Her laboratory and research group is quickly becoming well known to the industry in terms of the unique research she has developed, and her work has led to the improvement of combustor design for more stable combustion.

Tak-Sing Wong, assistant professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering, who is involved in pioneering work exploring synergies between biology and materials science, is also the recipient of an award from ASME.

The Society will present the 2018 Sia Nemat-Nasser Early Career Award to Wong at the forthcoming ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, Nov. 9-15, in Pittsburgh. ASME is recognizing the young engineer for “the development of novel biologically inspired materials for applications in liquid-repellent coatings, anti-fouling surfaces, and ultra-sensitive molecular sensors,” among other research accomplishments.

Wong and his research associates are working at the intersection of biology and engineering, creating new types of bio-inspired materials and investigating their role in energy, sustainability, and healthcare. Wong was named one of the world’s top-35 innovators under the age of 35 in the prestigious MIT Technology Review.

Chris Rahn, associate dean for innovation and the J. 'Lee' Everett Professor of mechanical engineering, has been awarded the 2018 N.O. Myklestad Award. Rahn and a team of Penn State researchers created a novel technique, called fluidic flexible matrix composites (F2MC), to dampen the vibrations of a helicopter tail boom. In recognition of these contributions to the field of vibration engineering, Rahn presented the keynote lecture at the International Design Engineering Technical Conferences (IDETC) that were held in Quebec City, Canada in August.

At IDETC, Rahn also received the 2018 Thar Energy award, which recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to research, innovation, and product design in the areas related to energy engineering.

Rahn expanded his research to energy storage and co-founded the Battery and Energy Storage Technology (BEST) Center with Chao-Yang Wang. The BEST Center is responsible for significant and pioneering contributions to the most important aspects of energy storage technology, including the battery systems work that Rahn has conducted within the center.

He said, “Earning the Thar Energy award, it means everything to me because that’s why I went into this field. I wanted my research to make a positive impact on the environment. Coming up with new ideas for low cost battery systems will encourage the use of intermittent, renewable energy in our cars and in our homes.”

Tim Simpson, the Paul Morrow Professor in Engineering Design and Manufacturing and professor of mechanical, industrial, and manufacturing engineering, known for his knowledge within the realm of product design and additive manufacturing, was the recipient of two awards at the 2018 American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference.

Awarded in Quebec City, Simpson earned the Design Automation Award, which recognizes an outstanding researcher in the field of engineering design optimization, and the Robert E. Abbot Award, which recognizes outstanding service contributions to the Design Engineering Division of ASME.

Simpson was honored for his contributions to the field of design automation through his research in product family and product platform design, design space visualization and additive manufacturing. His work is among the most widely cited within the design automation community, and his impact extends into industry, having engaged over 500 practitioners from companies around the world. 

“These prestigious awards demonstrate the extraordinary contributions our faculty make to the field of mechanical engineering,” Karen Thole, distinguished professor and department head of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering, said. “We are excited to continue our track record of excellence well into the future.”


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Erin Hendrick,

“These prestigious awards demonstrate the extraordinary contributions our faculty make to the field of mechanical engineering.” - Karen Thole, distinguished professor and department head of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering



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

Department of Mechanical Engineering

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The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4400

Phone: 814-865-2519