Early career professorship established in mechanical engineering

Erin Cassidy Hendrick
April 29, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — On April 20, the Penn State mechanical engineering community gathered virtually for a surprise celebration. Ed Auslander, retired chief executive officer and board director of LORD Corporation and a double Penn State alumnus, announced a $400,000 gift to the department that will establish the Martin W. Trethewey Early Career Professorship. The gift will also be matched by the University for $100,000. The professorship will provide additional funds to a chosen faculty member to support and enhance their research and teaching endeavors. 

A professor jumps in the air, mimicking a kangaroo.

Martin W. Trethewey, whose career at Penn State has been honored through the creation of a new early career professorship.

IMAGE: Martin W. Trethewey

Auslander, who was named as the Outstanding Engineering Alumnus in Mechanical Engineering by the Penn State College of Engineering in 2016, opened the event attended by more than 100 faculty, students, staff and friends of the ME department, held on Zoom. He began by recounted his experience as an undergraduate student, particularly when he enrolled in a vibrations course taught by Martin Trethewey, professor of mechanical engineering.

“Soon, I developed a passion for vibration control because he made it so interesting,” Auslander said.

He explained Trethewey’s guidance and support, especially in directing him to his first summer internship with the LORD Corporation in 1983, had an enormous impact on him.

“In so many ways, this professor enabled all the great things to happen in my life. The internship allowed me to buy an engagement ring for my wife, Elaine, and led me to my job at LORD where I spent my career,” he said. “There is no better way to give back and pay forward to Penn State and Dr. Trethewey, than by establishing this early career professorship today.”

Trethewey's research has focused on the analysis of machine dynamics from experimentally acquired data. The research encompasses experimental techniques, instrumentation, signal processing, and system modeling. He has supervised 50 graduate students and has published over 130 technical papers. 

During the event, the inaugural recipient of the professorship was also named. Anne Martin, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, will hold the designation for three years. Early Career Professorships are intended to help promising faculty members in the first decade of their careers to fulfill their potential as educators and researchers. 

She said, “I am very honored to be the first recipient of the Martin W. Trethewey Early Career Professorship. I look forward using this professorship to continue my research to improve quality of life and hopefully inspire young engineers the same way that Dr. Trethewey inspired Mr. Auslander.” 

Martin’s Gait Optimization (GO) Lab focuses on understanding how people walk through a mix of theoretical, simulation and experimental work. She also recently received a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation.  

The funds provided by the professorship will allow the GO Lab to purchase equipment for experimental projects, pursue exploratory research and provide additional funding opportunities for undergraduate researchers. 

Martin noted that she often teaches the vibrations course that Auslander spoke about during his announcement. 

She said, “It is one of my favorite courses to teach, and it seems fitting since Dr. Trethewey taught Mr. Auslander in vibrations, which had a profound impact on his life.” 

Trethewey, who joined the virtual celebration along with his family, will be retiring in July 2020. He said that he felt humbled by the professorship. 

“It has been an incredible journey, my career at Penn State,” he said. “It is now time for me to pass the baton. Thank you to Ed and Elaine — this is incredible!”

This gift will advance "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st-century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit greaterpennstate.psu.edu.


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Last Updated August 27, 2020