Department name change reflects WVU’s leadership in materials science research and education
The Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources at West Virginia University announces updates to the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering department, which will subsequently be known as the Mechanical, Materials and Aerospace Engineering department.
Story by Kaley LaQuea, Communications Specialist
Photos by Brian Persinger
To align the department's name with its evolving focus and vision for the future, this decision comes as a result of a comprehensive strategic review by Statler College leadership and a formal vote of support from the department’s faculty and visiting committee. The name change underscores the College’s longstanding commitment to academic excellence and deep expertise in the areas of material and mechanical engineering.
“Materials science is a strength of our department in terms of research, graduate education and faculty expertise,” said Jason Gross, mechanical, materials and aerospace engineering department chair. “This department name change serves to formally recognize the longstanding great work going on in the department in the field of materials science and engineering.”
WVU has prioritized the education and research of advanced materials for over a decade, starting with the establishment of WVNano in 2005, which utilized state and National Science Foundation funding. This resulted in the expansion of materials research facilities and faculty, including experts in fuel cells, batteries, sensors, biomaterials, nanomaterials and advanced manufacturing.
As materials science research grew at WVU, educational programs in the discipline also expanded to meet the needs of local students and the state’s economy. West Virginia was the only state east of the Mississippi that did not offer a degree in materials science and engineering, which forced in-state talent to seek programs elsewhere. In 2015, the department headed the development of the graduate program in materials science and engineering for the Statler College. By 2017, the first master’s and doctoral students in the state of West Virginia received degrees in MS&E at WVU.
With nine faculty members’ research programs in materials sciences, the discipline comprises the largest area of research in the MMAE department. MMAE faculty members boast many prestigious research awards and federal grants from all the major federal agencies, including the Department of Energy, NASA, National Science Foundation, US Department of Agriculture and National Institutes of Health. The department, which has over 100 MS and PhD students across its six graduate programs, houses existing master’s and PhD programs in materials science and engineering.
“With this continued progress in both MS&E research and education over the past decade, it’s exciting that this science area can be officially included within the name of an engineering department,” said Ed Sabolsky, MMAE professor. “The inclusion of materials engineering will further assist in the recruitment of top students and researchers to WVU, and provide recognition of its importance to the growth of this high technology area within the university and state.”
As of fall 2023, the undergraduate bachelor of science in mechanical engineering program now has an area of emphasis in materials in the curriculum, allowing students the opportunity to specialize their undergraduate mechanical engineering degree with a curriculum that includes materials science laboratories and lecture courses.
Contact: Paige Nesbit
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
304.293.4135, Paige Nesbit
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