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Fall semester at MechSE brings exciting changes


Julia Cation

As the 2015 fall semester kicks into high gear, the MechSE department celebrates news of promotions and new faculty appointments, and welcomes an inspiring new class of assistant professors. 
Sascha Hilgenfeldt and Elizabeth Hsiao-Wecksler were recently promoted to the rank of Professor, effective immediately. 
Hilgenfeldt has been on the MechSE faculty since 2008. He conducts theoretical and experimental research on the interfacial structure and dynamical evolution of foam and soft condensed matter. He has elucidated fundamental processes in interface dynamics, including sonoluminescence and domain coarsening, and applied results to develop a new and powerful kind of microfluidic flow excitation. His research has important implications for drug delivery, gene therapy and cell diagnostics, as well as generally enhancing the understanding of the mechanics of life.
Hsiao-Wecksler joined MechSE in 2002. She also holds affiliate appointments in the departments of Bioengineering, and Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering; the Center for Autonomous Engineering Systems and Robotics (CAESAR); the Center on Health, Aging and Disability; the NSF IGERT Program in Neuroengineering; and the Neuroscience Program. She is also an associate professor in the Information Trust Institute at Illinois. She directs the Human Dynamics and Controls Laboratory (HDCL), and her research uses methods from control theory, movement analysis, design, and dynamic systems modeling to investigate issues related to musculoskeletal biomechanics and rehabilitation engineering. She seeks to improve quality of life by improving mobility.
New Associate Heads 
Professor Taher Saif has been named the new Associate Head for Graduate Programs and Research. The office serves more than 350 graduate students each year, 50 percent of whom are enrolled in PhD programs. MechSE’s graduate programs are consistently ranked in the top six programs in the country. 
Professor Elizabeth Hsiao-Wecksler was named Associate Head for Undergraduate Programs for the department. The Undergraduate Programs Office serves the department's approximately 900 students working toward mechanical engineering and engineering mechanics degrees. 
New Assistant Professors
Amy LaViers earned her MS and PhD in electrical and computer engineering from Georgia Tech, and a BS in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Princeton. Before arriving at Illinois, LaViers was an assistant professor in systems and information engineering at the University of Virginia. She conducts research on embodied movement studies; movement notation; supervisory control; formal methods; optimal control; human motion analysis; and high-level control of robotic systems.
Hae-Won Park earned a PhD from the University of Michigan. His research focuses on control of dynamic robot systems; legged locomotion robots including humanoids, quadrupedal robots, and human assistive devices; and bio-inspired robots. He has developed and experimentally validated control design for highly dynamic legged locomotion robots. 
Arend van der Zande received an MS and PhD in physics from Cornell, and a BS in physics and mathematics from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Prior to Illinois, he was a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Columbia University. His research will center on the growth, defects, mechanics and functional devices from nanoscale materials and heterostructures; and nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS).
Aimy Wissa earned an MS and PhD in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland, and a BS in aerospace engineering from Penn State. Her research at Illinois focuses on experimental evaluation and free flight testing of flapping-wing UAVs; flapping-wing UAV structural dynamics, design and fabrication; multi-functional and passively morphing structures; and bio-inspired mechanisms and robotics.