Dear colleagues, alumni, supporters and friends,  

My life’s calling is to educate and work with students and colleagues on engineering solutions to enduring challenges for humanity. It is such a privilege to also serve as the Department Chair with an opportunity to facilitate similar aspirations by my friends and colleagues in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE). This quarterly newsletter provides a brief insight into the inspiring work and accomplishments by our department faculty, staff, students, and alumni this quarter.

The department has a strong commitment to humanity’s energy challenges, and we work to understand the balance between the need for a digital infrastructure and reduced energy use. Motivated by the desire to increase energy efficiency of data centers while significantly reducing their carbon footprint, Dr. Saeed Moghaddam was recently awarded an Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E) project under the COOLERCHIPS program. The UF collaborative work marks a pivotal milestone in the pursuit of a greener future, aligned with the ambitious goals outlined by the Department of Energy (DOE) to combat climate change and promote energy conservation.

Also motivated by energy conservation and environmental stewardship, Dr. Jonathan R. Scheffe is leading a team to produce synthesis gas (a mixture of carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen (H2)) using a solar chemistry process. Dr. Scheffe is a leading expert in thermochemical energy conversion, including solar fuel production and carbon dioxide capture.

Rounding out some of our accomplishments focused on energy this quarter, I am proud to announce that Dr. Jacob Chung was awarded the “2023 Thermal and Fluids Engineering Award,” the most prestigious honor awarded by the American Society of Thermal and Fluids Engineers (ASTFE).

The UF MAE community is composed of explorers that are always looking to the skies, the stars, and beyond. A new initiative by Dr. Ting Dong, is focused on a including a build / realization component to her EAS4710 Aircraft Design course. Previously, Dr. Dong’s senior design students produced theoretical designs for aircraft through extensive calculations and analysis supporting their viability. However, she encouraged her class to push further by converting their designs into real aircraft using advanced new fabrication methods.

One of our recent Distinguished Alumni, Erin Winick Anthony (BS 2016), who works for Barrios Technology, a NASA contractor, was recently awarded the coveted NASA Silver Snoopy award for her technical communication efforts to reach a wide audience and effectively tell stories of the activities aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and why they matter.

Speaking of the ISS, a team led by Dr. Amor Menezes that includes fellow UF MAE professor Dr. Sean Neimi and a collection of government, industry, and academic partners were awarded a $3.2 million grant for space biomanufacturing research and three research flights to the ISS. The project is funded by the Biomanufacturing: Survival, Utility, and Reliability beyond Earth (B-SURE) program of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to establish a resilient supply chain that can support a sustained human space presence.

This quarter also marks the end of UF’s fiscal year. I am happy to report that for the third year in a row, we have set a new record in research expenditures.  Specifically, MAE just passed the $19 million mark in research expenditures for the 2022-2023 fiscal year. The results of our recent strategic hiring in AI, astronautics, autonomy, biosystems, energy, soft matter, and thermal sciences, combined with the insights, passion, and dedicated work ethic by the faculty, staff, and students, will enable us to keep moving the bar even higher, creating even greater opportunities to impact our society. Congratulations to our vibrant and talented MAE family on the impactful contributions and acknowledgements.

I want to thank everyone for also contributing to our record setting philanthropic giving. Such gifts are very important to help our technology-based student groups to learn, design, build, compete, and win, to enable the department to attract and retain elite faculty and staff, and to support the transition to our new headquarters building (NEB). We love hearing about the success of our alumni and encourage you to stay in touch with us on our social media channels to share and keep up with all the department’s activities and events.


Warren Dixon, PhD