Professor Daniel A. Tortorelli conducts research in continuum solid mechanics and computational mechanics. Much of his work concerns the efficient computation of sensitivities for various systems including those which are nonlinear and transient. These capabilities allow engineers to optimize designs via systematic nonlinear programming strategies, rather than by costly and inferior trial-and-error methods. Recent applications of these methods have been used to design the microstructure of composite materials with optimal impact resistance for the Army, zero thermo-expansion materials for space antenna applications and minimal weight engine components for the transportation industry. He has also applied these methods to optimize casting, welding and metal forming manufacturing processes. As a co-principal investigator of a College of Engineering sponsored Strategic Instructional Initiatives Program grant, he is incorporating the latest evidenced based pedagogy practices and technological developments into the Department’s largest undergraduate lecture courses. This effort affects approximately 1,500 undergraduates each year. Professor Tortorelli holds Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois and a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame du Lac.
The professorship's namesake, George Grim, was born in Reading, Pennsylvania in 1915. Before attending Illinois, he had a four-year apprenticeship in machinery, enabling him to work as a machinist for the Physics Department while earning his degrees. He received a BSME degree in 1940 and an ME degree in 1952. After graduating, he joined Caterpillar and spent 39 years with them conducting engine research. He became an expert in engines, tribology, and bearing development.
In 1979, he retired to Washington, Illinois, where he remained active in community volunteer work and philanthropy. Grim was passionate about both engineering design and education. The George B. Grim Professorship was created in accordance with his wishes.