Hello friends, my name is Eckhard Groll, and I am honored to serve as the new head of the School of Mechanical Engineering. Anil Bajaj stepped down from the position in July 2019, after nine years as head of the school. We are all deeply grateful for his leadership, and we’re also glad that (after a well-earned sabbatical) he will continue to stay on campus to serve as a faculty member.

A little bit about my background: I came to Purdue in 1994 as an assistant professor, after earning my doctorate in Germany. Most recently, I served as associate dean for undergraduate and graduate education for the College of Engineering, striving to make our school a unique entity that provides exceptional cross-disciplinary and transformational learning, discovery, and engagement activities for our students, faculty and staff.

I’m also heavily involved in research, specifically about compressors, refrigeration, and energy conversion. Every two years, I chair a conference at Herrick Labs that hosts more than 800 industry experts in HVAC and High Performance Buildings. I’ve also been involved in converting old houses in West Lafayette into research testbeds. For example, we joined forces with the Whirlpool Corporation to create the ReNEWW House, retrofitted with renewable technologies to be net-zero energy, water, and waste. We’re currently converting another house to run exclusively on DC power.

These are exciting times to be Purdue Mechanical Engineers! Every year, our school welcomes 1,400 undergraduate students and 600 graduate students to tackle the world’s grand challenges. With technology developing at an exponential rate, the opportunities of becoming an engineer have never been greater. From traditional industries like the automotive world come amazing alumni like our cover subject, NASCAR crew chief Chris Gabehart. The new industries of today’s space race have Purdue footprints all over them. And within the emerging fields of nanotechnology and biomedicine are future industries we can’t even imagine! But we know our Purdue ME students, faculty, and alumni will be at the forefront.

I am deeply honored and excited about the opportunity to lead our school. Boiler up!


Eckhard Groll
William E. and Florence E. Perry Head of Mechanical Engineering, and Reilly Professor of Mechanical Engineering


NASCAR crew chief Chris Gabehart brings Purdue engineering to victory lane

The pressure couldn't be any higher -- your first race as a top-level crew chief, and it's the Daytona 500. Your driver takes the lead, and manages to avoid crash after crash. How can you keep your team focused on the finish line in front of more than 100,000 fans? Actually, high-pressure scenarios like this are no big deal for Chris Gabehart. After all, if you can graduate from Mechanical Engineering at Purdue, you can accomplish anything!

 

 

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How would you survive on Mars?

How do you build an extra terrestrial habitat that is safe from Marsquakes, sandstorms, radiation, and other hazards? NASA have tasked Shirley Dyke's RETH Institute with finding out the solutions.

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Purdue Baja Racing: Engineering on the Fly

Motorsports has a way of testing an engineer's mettle. Sure, you've worked hard and prepared all year for this -- but when everything breaks and is covered in dirt, can you fix it in 30 minutes?

 

 

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Formula SAE excels at building racecars and engineers

Few competitions encourage student learning like the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Collegiate Design Series. The Formula SAE (FSAE) competition challenges college students from all over the world to design and build a small racecar within one school year. The goal is to create an easily-reproducible, nonprofessional weekend autocross racecar prototype that costs about $30,000. The SAE’s various restrictions on the open wheel, open cockpit concept car are meant to inspire creativity among the teams. The best designs should be low cost, easily maintained, reliable, and -- of course -- fast.

 

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Mitch Daniels drives hot laps in Purdue's student-built electric race cars

Purdue University President Mitch Daniels took the driver's seat of two student-designed electric race cars, at a demonstration Thursday at the Purdue Grand Prix Track. He drove 10 laps in a battery-powered go kart, and 10 laps in a mini-Formula electric race car, powered by a 300-volt battery.

 

“I’ve driven sports cars most of my life,” said Daniels, “but that was the most fun I’ve had all month!”

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John Vellinger: From Chix in Space to a Company in Space

What do you say about someone who has had the same job since the 8th grade? As a student in the 1980s, John Vellinger (BSME '89) won a contest that sent chickens into space. He then utilized that experience to found a company called Techshot, which custom-builds experimental modules for the International Space Station.

 

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Alumni Profile: Tony Harris

Anthony "Tony" Harris (BSME '75) has always loved math. But he didn't take calculus or any advanced classes in related fields... they weren't even available at his south-side-Chicago high school in the 1960s.

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John Biasi: More than just that Coke machine

He started out at Purdue in the 1980s, programming lab equipment. Since then, he's lit up the Empire State Building, and brought to life a certain red-colored soft drink dispenser. Now he works with Dean Kamen to solve tough medical problems, from robotic prosthetics to wheelchairs that stand up on two wheels.

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Julia Badger: Designing the Future of Space Robots

Not many people can claim that they programmed the first humanoid robot in space. Julia Badger (BSME '03) saw her hard work pay off with Robonaut, a sleek feat of humanoid technology that flew on the International Space Station. Today, as the Project Manager for the Robotics and Intelligence for Human Spacecraft Team at NASA's Johnson Space Center, she is designing the next generation of autonomous robots that will help humans explore the solar system.

 

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Toy Fair celebrates Purdue's 150th anniversary

Remember when your parents told you to "share your toys" with others? Purdue's Mechanical Engineering students have done just that: sharing their toys with the public, as part of an annual Toy Fair event that coincides with Purdue's 150th anniversary.

 

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Malott Innovation Awards showcase 2019 senior design projects

This semester's projects included a lunar rover that autonomously maps lava tubes, a custom shoe insert for partial amputees, and a hybrid internal combustion engine that propels pistons with electronic solenoids.

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Touring the particulate laboratory at Purdue

No one knows particle science like Purdue. Thanks to the Center for Particulate Products and Processes (CP3), researchers can study powders, pharmaceuticals, food particles, and other particulate substances at unprecedented levels of detail.

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Energy-Water Corridor for the US-Mexico Border

The US-Mexico border has ideal conditions for solar energy and wind-power. Instead of a wall, build an Energy Corridor! Purdue ME professor Luciano Castillo is leading the effort.

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Psychrometric chambers help to keep everyone cool

It may be winter outside, but at Herrick Labs -- Purdue University's testbed for high performance buildings -- they're running the air conditioners at full blast.

 

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"Virtual Surgery" shows surgeons how wounds will heal

Human skin, like any other material, obeys the laws of physics -- which means its mechanics can be predicted in computer simulations. Now a Purdue team are bringing this technology to reconstructive surgeries. Using smartphone photos and computer analysis, surgeons can now predict how specific wounds and scars will heal.

 

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Giving "Spidey Sense" to machines

"Spidey Sense" is real! It's called "mechanosensing," and animals have it naturally. Now Andres Arrieta is giving the same capability to autonomous vehicles.

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New sensors can measure the highest temperatures of jet engines

If you put temperature sensors in certain parts of a jet engine, THEY WILL MELT. So how can you monitor their performance? At Zucrow Labs, Guillermo Paniagua's PETAL Lab have developed a sensor that will survive the high temps and pressures of rocket engines and gas turbines.

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Imaging lithium ion batteries down to individual atoms

Lithium ion batteries are everywhere: your phone, your computer, your car. Yet we still don't know a lot about how they work! Kejie Zhao and his team have been able to image these batteries in unprecedented detail, from the millimeter level all the way down to individual atoms.

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Hummingbird Robots: Naturally Intriguing

What can fly like a bird and hover like an insect? Your friendly neighborhood hummingbird. If drones had this capability, they would be able to fly steadily through windy conditions, and get into tight spaces other drones couldn't go. Assistant professor Xinyan Deng and her team have created a bio-inspired hummingbird robot: trained by artificial intelligence, weighing only 12 grams, and utilizing unsteady aerodynamics to hover, just like the real thing.

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