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Zhang appointed MAE department chair

Yuwen Zhang poses in front of a bookcase.

Yuwen Zhang, a James C. Dowell professor of mechanical engineering, was appointed chairman of the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, effective Sept. 1. He served as interim chair of the department last year.

James C. Dowell Professor Yuwen Zhang has been appointed chairman of the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at the University of Missouri College of Engineering. Zhang had served as the department’s interim chairman over the past year following the appointment of previous chairman Robert Tzou to associate dean.

As the chairman, Zhang takes over the department with the largest undergraduate enrollment in the college, a fact Zhang said played a large role in the decision to hire four full-time faculty members who started this fall.

“That’s probably the biggest achievement we made last year,” Zhang said. “Last year, we had close to 900 students enrolled, which created a 45:1 student-faculty ratio. This year, we are down to a 38:1 ratio.”

Getting the ratio of students to faculty down is a department goal, Zhang specified.

“We [the MAE faculty members] want to serve our students and improve their quality of learning by decreasing class sizes and improving the lab experience,” he said.

MAE’s research expenditures topped $3.1 million last year and produced more than 90 journal articles from faculty and students, a figure Zhang said the department hopes to surpass this year.

“One of the most important goals is that we promote our research to the AAU [Association of American Universities] level and increase our federal funding and number of citations,” he said.

Even with his new responsibilities, Zhang is still working on his own research and supervising eight graduate students. He currently has three National Science Foundation-funded projects for which he serves as principal investigator. The three focus on micro and nano-scale heat transfer, femtosecond lasers materials processing, or nanoparticulate systems. He also has two Air Force Research Laboratory-funded projects as PI and one Office of Naval Research-funded project as co-PI that he is working on. He has published four books and more than 200 archival journal articles.

Zhang has been with the college since 2003, when he began an appointment as an associate professor. He was promoted to full professor in 2009 and has received awards from the ONR, as a young investigator award, the college, the 2010 senior faculty research award, and the MU campus, the 2010 chancellor’s award on outstanding research and creative activities. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and an editorial board member for more than 10 journals.