Penn State Mechanical Engineering gathers to celebrate new era, Vizzies awards


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — On January 25 in the E-Knowledge Commons, the mechanical engineering (ME) community at Penn State had a lot to celebrate.

In addition to awarding the 2019 Vizzies, a departmental competition based on the National Science Foundation (NSF) initiative to recognize outstanding visuals of scientific research, students, faculty, and staff came together to celebrate an exciting new chapter.

Emerging as an independent department once again, the event represented the launch of the Department of Mechanical Engineering: Reimagined, a year-long acknowledgment of the past, present, and future of the discipline at Penn State.

Karen Thole, ME department head and distinguished professor, said, “I am so excited to host this event honoring our graduate students’ contributions and share our vision for the new ME department.”

Vizzies Competition

Timothy Cleary, a doctoral student advised by Hosam Fathy, the Bryant Early Career Professor of Mechanical Engineering, took first place in the 2019 Vizzies with his entry, “Large Format Lithium Nickel Cobalt Oxide Nail Puncture”.

In his image, a nail puncture test was performed to characterize the thermal and mechanical response. The results helped support engineering guidelines for their use in passenger bus applications.

“It was very rewarding for me to win first place,” Cleary said. “The competition is also a great way to make people aware of the research and communicate the problems we’re facing and the solutions we’ve come up with.”

Shih-Jung Hsu, Behzad Damirchi, and Carlos Ulises Gonzalez-Valle also received commendations for their entries (second place, third place, and People’s Choice Award, respectively).

All the entries can be found on Facebook.

“The contest was once again competitive, showcasing the unique and fascinating ways our students demonstrate their research visually,” Mary Frecker, mechanical engineering professor and Associate Department Head for graduate programs, said.

ME Reimagined

Students, faculty, and staff also attended a later event to participate in Pie Your Professor. Boasting an impressive number of faculty participants, students had the chance to make a small charitable donation to the Penn State chapter of the American Society for Mechanical Engineers (ASME) for a good-natured attempt to launch a pie in their professor’s face.

“We try to motivate our students any way we can,” Thole said. “They seemed to enjoy this one!”

Eric Marsh, the Glenn Professor of Engineering Education, and Stephen Lynch, Shuman Family Early Career Professor, raised the most donations.

Also announced at the event was the launch of the new mechanical engineering website. The digital hub will now serve as the main source for news, events, and research at Penn State ME.

Additional photos from the event can be found on Flickr.


Share this story:

facebook linked in twitter email


Erin Cassidy Hendrick



With more than 60 faculty members, 330 graduate students, and 1,000 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

137 Reber Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4400

Phone: 814-865-2519