UW Today

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July 8, 2010

Departments of Mechanical Engineering, Aeronautics & Astronautics appoint new chairs

News and Information

The UW departments of Mechanical Engineering and Aeronautics & Astronautics have appointed new chairs. Per Reinhall, professor of mechanical engineering and James Hermanson, professor of aeronautics & astronautics, are both graduates of the UW.

Reinhall will succeed Mark Tuttle, who has been chair of the department since August 2004.

Reinhall earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the UW in 1977 and went on to earn his master’s and doctorate from the California Institute of Technology. He joined the UW faculty in 1982. His research interests include studying vibrations in situations as diverse as laminated beams, artificial heart valves, medical endoscopes, and bicycle frames. Recent research interests include fuel cells.

“Mechanical engineering has been organized around traditional areas,” said Matt O’Donnell, dean of the UW College of Engineering. “Research themes will become more central to the department’s structure, particularly in medical technology and energy systems. This leverages some of the department’s traditional strengths and several of the new faculty. The UW needs to become an even more important leader in med-tech and clean-tech, and Per has the ability to lead that transition.”

Hermanson has been associate chair of Aeronautics & Astronautics since January 2009. He will now succeed Adam Bruckner, who has chaired the department since 1998.

Hermanson earned a bachelor’s degree in aeronautics & astronautics from the UW in 1977, and a master’s degree in 1980 and doctoral degree in 1985 from the California Institute of Technology. His experience includes academic research positions with the UW’s Applied Physics Laboratory and the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. He also has industry experience working with the Boeing Co. and with United Technologies Research Center, the research branch of a Connecticut-based company that specializes in aerospace and building systems.

Hermanson joined the UW faculty in 2002. His research interests are in fluid dynamics, including compressible flow, combustion and multi-phase flow, especially as they relate to aerospace technologies.

“The UW has always had a strong partnership with the aerospace industry, and we want to expand that role locally and nationally,” said Matt O’Donnell, dean of the College of Engineering. “We will partner with Boeing and other aerospace companies to create innovative technologies, such as the next generation of composite materials, or new types of autonomous vehicles. Jim understands both the academic and industry cultures very well, and can see ways to bring them closer together.”

Both appointments were effective July 1.