Spring 2024

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 newsletter provides a brief insight into the inspiring work and accomplishments by our department faculty, staff, students, and alumni this quarter.

We started the year off with our first Friends of Florida Alumni event sponsored by Lockheed Martin at AIAA SciTech. It was successful start of a new tradition, and we look forward to building on the success and leverage lessons learned to grow the event to celebrate and fellowship with more of our MAE family. The MAE family has several changes this year. The department had the pleasure to work with Dr. Gloria Wiens over the past 29 years! Dr. Wiens is retiring this Spring, and we are sad to see her go but immensely grateful for her commitment to the department and our students. This Spring we are welcoming two new faculty members: Robert and Jill Peterson Associate Professor Alison Dunn and Dr. Youngsup Song, who both will undoubtedly be impactful scholars and educators.

Impactful scholarship and student development through world-class educational opportunities are bedrock for MAE. This quarter we celebrate Newton C Ebaugh and Distinguished Professor S. Balachandar, who received the 2024 ASME Fluids Engineering Award. He was selected for his “groundbreaking contributions to the physical processes, modeling, and the numerical computations of multiphase flows in environmental, industrial, and high-speed applications.” We also highlight the impactful work by Dr. Xin Tang’s lab which made a recent breakthrough into the design of novel mechanobiology-empowered medicines to suppress aggressive and relapsing human cancer. The UF MAE community is proud to announce the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering and the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering at the University of Florida will collaborate on a new Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) Center of Excellence focused on high-speed flight and morphing aerospace vehicles, which can change shape while in flight. This is MAE’s second active AFOSR Center of Excellence, providing further evidence of how faculty and students in MAE are leading the nation in addressing enduring issues related to national security and defense.

Scholarship feeds our educational program. For example, we celebrate the success by Dr. Umesh Persad and his students made working on their Senior Design Capstone project. This is a culminating design course for MAE students, and they worked with the non-profit Astro Restoration Project to develop an interactive exhibit for preservation of the NASA Space Shuttle Astro Payload. These types of unique experiences enable us to turn Florida’s top students into tomorrow’s alumni. For example, we highlight our young alumna, Juliana Mishur, who saw a promising opportunity and followed a hunch that has led her to recognition by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). We also speak with alumnus Matt Palmer about his dedication to facilitate student collaboration.

I want to thank everyone for contributing to our amazing philanthropic giving last year and encourage you all to give again this year on February 15th for Giving Day. 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