Mechanical engineering industry leaders featured on panel

Erin Cassidy Hendrick
November 06, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — At the final event marking the year-long celebration of a reimagined Department of Mechanical Engineering at Penn State, four leaders in the field spoke to students, faculty and staff on Oct. 28 about their predictions for the future of the discipline.

Kon-Well Wang, director at the Division of Engineering Education and Centers at the National Science Foundation; Jay Dryer, deputy associate administrator for the aeronautics program at the NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate; Elana Chapman, senior fuels/biofuels engineer at General Motors; and Dean Bartles, president and chief executive officer at the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining, journeyed to the University Park campus to share their insights on a panel, “Mechanical Engineering of the Future.”

Wang set the tone for the event and said, “The engineering community has been doing a lot of searching to identify the trends and challenges of the future. As mechanical engineers, we need to cross disciplinary boundaries and absorb new emerging areas with broad and deep inclusion.”

The speakers detailed their unique experiences, including Chapman’s insights into internal combustion engines.

“Automotive businesses like General Motors are focusing their innovations on hybrid and electric vehicles,” she said. “That is where the future lies.”

Bartles spoke about the potential of additive manufacturing and its predicted influence on the careers of the students in the audience.

“We are in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution,” he said. “Additive is changing the way manufacturing is done and that’s the best space for mechanical engineers to contribute.”

Closing the event, Dryer asked the students to look ahead to their careers and begin preparing themselves now, beyond the academic rigor of the curriculum.

“The fundamentals of mechanical engineering are an amazing thing to bring to a team,” he said. “You can bring people together and solve problems.”

At the closing event for the semester-long celebration, Karen Thole, distinguished professor and mechanical engineering department head, said she was excited to bring several influential and thought-provoking speakers to the department.

“Our students will be emboldened by these lessons and we hope they will carry them onto their future careers,” she said. “As every speaker this semester has reiterated, the future is bright for mechanical engineers.”

Pictures from the event can be found on Flickr.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated November 06, 2019