MechSE honors 2020 distinguished and young alumni
The MechSE Distinguished Alumni Awards recognize alumni who have established careers and have served in a professional and technical capacity to honor the department and the university. Any individual with a degree in engineering mechanics, mechanical engineering, or theoretical and applied mechanics from the University of Illinois, who is not a current MechSE faculty member or alumni board member, is eligible for nomination. The 2020 winners are Eric Brown, Jeanne Shobert, and Wendy Teare. The MechSE Outstanding Young Alumni Award recognizes alumni who have graduated from the department fewer than 10 years ago and who have embodied the department and university’s values in their professional careers. This year’s recipients are Lance Hibbeler and Ritu Raman.
Brown graduated from Illinois with his BSME (’98), MSTAM (’01) and PhDTAM (’03) and joined Los Alamos National Laboratory to continue his post-doctoral research. He has worked at Los Alamos ever since, and now holds the position of Division Director for its Explosive Science and Shock Physics Division. His research in materials science spans fracture and damage of complex heterogeneous polymers and polymer composites for energetic, reactive, and structural applications including crystalline phase transitions, plasticity, dynamic loading conditions, and self-healing materials.
Hibbeler studied at Illinois for eight years, earning an MS in mechanical engineering in 2009, an MS in TAM in 2011, and a PhD in mechanical engineering with a concentration in computational science and engineering in 2014. He worked with Professor Brian Thomas (now Professor Emeritus) on modeling continuous casting of steel, developing a technique for combining multiple physical phenomena into a single simulation, which was used to advise the industry on the design of equipment. Hibbeler was also the founding president of the Graduate MechSE Society (GRAMS) and was heavily involved in Pi Tau Sigma. Now, he works for Intel using the computational process modeling skills and experiences he gained at MechSE to design, develop, and debug the computer chip manufacturing process. Recently, Hibbeler started a fund through the Engineering Visionary Scholarship Initiative, which was inspired by his experience as a student in MechSE.
Raman (MSME ’13, PhDME ’16) worked with Professor Taher Saif and Professor Rashid Bashir (now Dean of The Grainger College of Engineering) to study the use of biological materials in mechanical machines. These types of materials give biological robots (“bio-bots”) abilities that synthetic robots don’t have, such as the capacity to regenerate following damage and exercise to get stronger. She is currently working as a postdoctoral fellow at MIT, where she is studying how to incorporate responsive functionalities into implantable devices so they can sense and respond to individualized patient needs. She hopes to continue this research in her own lab someday. Concurrently, Raman is working on a book about building with biology targeted at an audience without a STEM background. Through this book, she said she hopes to share “the exciting science going on in the world in an engaging manner, so people know why scientists do what they do.” While at Illinois, she worked on a variety of efforts to promote underrepresented minorities in STEM, including the Young Engineers Initiative, a program designed to expose young children in Kenya to STEM topics, as well as teach them valuable problem-solving skills.
Shobert (BSME ’85) is recognized for her work in the nuclear energy industry. While she currently works as the director of nuclear fuel supply for Exelon, she started her career with Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) as a technical staff engineer, applying her experiences from Illinois to conduct thermal performance testing, flow analyses, and other fossil power plant work. Her curiosity about how the plant’s economic dispatch decisions were made pushed her to earn her MBA at University of Illinois Chicago. During her career, Shobert developed a more efficient system for enriched uranium commerce that eventually became – and remains – the international standard. More recently, she was part of an industry team formed to address lawmakers and explain the unintended consequences of international sanctions that could harm U.S. nuclear utilities and disrupt the world-wide nuclear fuel landscape.
Teare (BSEM ’88) began her career with McDonnell Douglas Aircraft in 1988, the same year the company merged with Boeing to become The Boeing Company. Soon after, she began work on a hypersonic transport aircraft doing high-temperature materials and structure testing on the National Aerospace Plane Program, where she worked with NASA Dryden engineers to pioneer high-temperature design, analysis, and testing on Titanium Matrix Composite Structures. Teare began her current position as the Cruise Missile Systems International Execution Manager in October in 2019. She leads a team of nine project engineers who support foreign military sales of Boeing’s cruise missiles, including the Harpoon and SLAM/ SLAM-ER. Teare and her team work with 30 countries and the U.S. Navy to help support America’s military position around the world.