MechSE faculty are heavyweights in awards and honors


Julia Park

Recognition of exceptional achievements of faculty with external awards and honors is an important component of institutional rankings and reputation. University of Illinois faculty have historically been recognized with highly prestigious awards in many disciplines. Similarly, Grainger Engineering faculty are routinely awarded for research and teaching achievements that have played a significant role in its top ten ranking (U.S. News and World Report). 

The MechSE Department is no different. Every year since 2014, MechSE’s research and teaching faculty have been nominated for an average of 40 to 50 national, international, campus, and college awards and recognition—with an impressive eight-year average of nearly 40% of those nominations resulting in a win. 

“Grainger faculty – including our colleagues in MechSE – are innovators at the highest level, and their pioneering research discoveries and approaches to teaching are world-renowned and deserving of the accolades,” said Rashid Bashir, Dean of The Grainger College of Engineering at Illinois.

The American Society for Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) are several of the professional societies related to mechanical engineering from which MechSE faculty consistently win awards for their work.

However, thanks to the increasingly multidisciplinary nature of the research in which our faculty engage, they also earn recognition from societies outside of what has previously been considered “traditional” mechanical engineering. The department boasts recipients of awards from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society (TMS), Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE), American Physical Society (APS), Materials Research Society (MRS), the Society for Engineering (SES), Society of Women Engineers (SWE), American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronauts (AIAA), the National Wildlife Federation, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, to name just a few.

Additionally, a record number of our faculty also hold a named appointment, such as a professorship or chair, with several holding more than one of these titles.

Awards and honors described as “prestigious” and “highly prestigious” by the National Research Council factor into the NRC rankings outlined by the American Association of Universities’ membership indicators. The AAU is the association of leading comprehensive research universities distinguished by the breadth and quality of their programs of research and graduate education. Membership in the association is by invitation; Illinois’ membership began in 1908, decades before many of its peers.

“The recognition our faculty receive through prestigious awards is a reflection of their excellent scholarship and impactful leadership, and of course that recognition shines back on the department as a whole. ‘Excellence begets excellence,’ and our internationally renowned faculty attract the very best students and new faculty who want to join them as colleagues. The awards alone don’t fuel it, but they certainly help amplify our critical mass,” said Tony Jacobi, MechSE Department Head and Richard W. Kritzer Distinguished Professor.