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Alumni share how U-M ME shaped their careers and lives. Read more stories

Brandon Patterson

Brandon Patterson - MSE, 2014; PhD, 2017

My time as a Mechanical Engineering student at UM has helped me discover my professional interests and passions and driven me to a better understanding of myself. When I first came to UM, fresh out of my bachelor’s degree, I was full of energy and excited to start my graduate career, but I really didn’t have a lot of direction. I knew I really enjoyed math and human mechanics, and I wanted to combine these interests to help people, but I still wasn't sure how. When I arrived at Michigan, I seized an opportunity to work with Professor Eric Johnsen, studying the fluid mechanics that described how bubbles could lead to unwanted biological effects during certain medical ultrasound procedures. The idea was that a better understanding of the physics could lead to useful surgeries and evidenced-based regulations. Moreover, the project united my interests perfectly and was both personally motivating and technically challenging. But as research goes, the months passed and buried in day-to-day technical issues, I lost sight of the purpose of my the work and my motivation dwindled.

In the hopes of making a difference I could see, I joined the Mechanical Engineering Graduate Council (MEGC), which at that point was just starting. Through MEGC I began creating and organizing STEM outreach events for ME graduate students to work with local schools and students. As part of these events, myself and others volunteers would talk about what we do and why it was so exciting. In organizing these events, I felt like I was making a positive difference in my community. And in sharing the story of my work, I met lots of intrigued and inspired young students who helped me remember why I was doing the work in the first place -- because better medical ultrasound really has the potential to make a difference in peoples lives. This passion for work and outreach has continued and soon I will start a postdoctoral position at the University of Michigan Medical School, where I intend to continue my ultrasound research and outreach.

The ME department gave me the opportunities to do impactful and meaningful work both in my technical field and in my local community and ultimately I learned that I am a happier more productive person only balancing the two.

Bill Streett

William Streett - MSE, 1961; PhD, 1963

I am a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY, class of 1955.  Following my graduation, I served three years with the U.S. Forces in Germany. Upon my return to the U.S. in 1959, I was sent to the U. of Michigan for two years to earn an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering in preparation for a teaching assignment at West Point.  I was fortunate to have Professor Gordon Van Wylen as my advisor, and during those first two years (1959-61) I completed the M.S. requirements, as well as the course requirements and qualifying exams for a PhD, not knowing whether I would ever have the opportunity to earn that degree.  At the end of my first year of teaching at West Point, I was sent back to Ann Arbor and given one year to complete a PhD thesis.  At that time I had three young children, so my life was somewhat hectic. I had some vague ideas of what I might do for a PhD thesis, but Prof Van Wylen was unimpressed.  He said that he had recently learned that NASA was preparing to use liquid-hydrogen-fueled rockets in the space program but that pumping liquid hydrogen (which boils at about 15 degrees K) mechanically was not practical, so they planned to use pressurized helium gas for this purpose. They needed to know the solubility of helium in liquid hydrogen, from about 15 to 30 K, to have some idea of how much helium would dissolve in liquid hydrogen and go through the combustion process as an inert substance.  Prof Van Wylen selected Asst Prof Richard Sonntag as co-chair of my doctoral committee, and gave me an initial grant of a few thousand $ to get started. We wrote a proposal to NASA to carry out the necessary research, and I was assigned lab space in the new Automotive Engineering Lab on the North Campus.  The proposal was funded, and I began work immediately.  In the course of the next 11 months I somehow managed to complete the experimental studies, measuring the liquid-vapor equilibrium in normal hydrogen-helium at 11 temperatures between 15.5 and 32.5 K, and pressures up to 500 psi.  Shortly after my return to West Point I went back to Ann Arbor to defend my thesis, and the degree was awarded.

The experience I gained in my PhD research opened up a new field for me: measuring liquid-vapor equilibrium in mixtures of light gases at low temperatures and high pressures.  After returning to West Point I built equipment suitable for studying mixtures between about 15 and 300K, and at pressures up to 10,000 atm.  I did a lot of that work at West Point before retiring from the Army in 1978.  I then joined the faculty of chemical engineering at Cornell University and continued my research.  in 1984 I was appointed Dean of the College of Engineering at Cornell, a post I held until my retirement in 1995.

My studies in the ME Department at the U. of Michigan were the key to my successful academic career spanning more than 35 years.

Sam Taylordean

Sam Taylordean - BSE, 2017

I have always known I wanted to be an engineer. The only difficulty came in selecting what type. To me, the appeal of engineering was how it is a refined form of problem-solving. MechE, in particular, was broad enough that it gave me all the tools I needed to succeed in my life after graduation. MechE had everything I wanted in a bachelor's degree: design classes, lab classes, a focus on teamwork... and flexibility for me to pursue a minor in a field I am very passionate about (boats!). I am now a Ph.D. student in the Naval Architecture field, and I truly appreciate how MechE helped me to get here.

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Gifts & Accolades

Marshall JonesJones Honored with 2019 U-M ME Alumni Merit Award

Marshall Jones is a recipient of the University of Michigan’s (U-M) 2019 Mechanical Engineering (ME) Alumni Merit Award. Jones, who was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2017, has enjoyed an impressive career filled with countless achievements and honors. He currently holds over 50 U.S. patents and 57 foreign patents, is a member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), and had an accomplished 44-year career at GE Global Research in laser technology. In 1982 he initiated research that resulted in a laser beam powerful enough to cut steel, titanium, and nickel-based alloys, and able to weld and drill them at multiple angles. Jones earned his BSE from U-M ME in 1965 and went on to earn his master’s and PhD from the University of Massachusetts. Jones spoke fondly of his time at U-M ME when asked to reflect on it in recognition of the Department’s 150th anniversary in 2018.

“Within ME, I truly loved design, as well as the mechanics and materials of all lab work. U-M ME’s design training led to my first job in high energy physics at Brookhaven National Labs and that same training provided a great foundation for my grad studies at UMass, opening the door to my 44-year career at GE Global Research in laser technology.”

See previous alumni merit award recipients.


Katherine VozarVozar Honored with 2018 Michigan Engineering Outstanding Recent Alumni Award

Mechanical Engineering alumna Katherine Avery Vozar has been selected to receive the 2018 University of Michigan Engineering Outstanding Recent Alumni Award. Vozar (MSE 11’, PhD, 16’) is currently a Technology Integration Lead at Ford Motor Company, where her work is dedicated to integration emerging technology into forward model year vehicles, and accelerating systems-based, cross-functional development and implementation of relevant technologies sourced from multiple industries. Vozar also brought her unique vision and experience to assist as a Corporate-Partner-in-Residence at Techstars Mobility, a Detroit-based startup accelerator focused on funding companies with a novel approach to transportation, including (but not limited to) autonomous, connected, shared and electric vehicles.

Vozar has written more than 20 peer-reviewed articles and holds multiple patents, has co- advised doctoral students with faculty from around the world and has provided technical and project leadership on multiple government-funded multi-institution research collaborations. Giving back to her community is another passion of Vozar’s. As an alum, she became a member of the Michigan Engineering Alumni Board and a founding member of the Advisory Board for the Michigan Engineering Zone in Detroit, an innovation space where Detroit students acquire the knowledge and tools they need to propel themselves to higher education and careers in STEM. She also co-founded The Trending Up Foundation, which endeavors to raise awareness and accessibility of STEM careers for K-12 students from historically excluded groups through hands-on workshops, classes and scholarship opportunities.

Peter K. Schoenfeld Scholarship Fund endowed

Franziska I. Schoenfeld (AB ’53, DDS ’55) has made a gift to endow the Peter K. Schoenfeld Scholarship Fund. Established in honor of her son, Michigan Engineering alumnus Peter K. Schoenfeld (BSE ME ’98), the fund will provide need-based scholarship support to undergraduate students in the Department of Mechanical Engineering who are residents of the state of Michigan. Preference will be given to transfer students, either from other academic units within the University or from outside the University, and students who are United States citizens or permanent residents of the U.S.

After graduating with her DDS in 1955, Dr. Schoenfeld owned and operated a general dentistry practice for 30 years, retiring in 1985. After her retirement, she served as a dental editor for the Michigan Dental Association Journal, authoring and editing dental articles and dentist profiles.

Ken SnodgrassKen Snodgrass (BSME ‘69, MSE ‘71) - 2014 Distinguished Alumni Service Award

ME Alum Ken Snodgrass (BSME ‘69 and MSE ‘71) Receives 2014 Distinguished Alumni Service Award

Ken Snodgrass is a mechanical engineer, automotive professional, and co-founder of the Michigan Engineering Zone (MEZ) in Detroit. After graduating from the University of Michigan College of Engineering (BSME ‘69 and MSE ‘71), Ken accepted a position in Light Truck Engineering at Ford Motor Company where he would work for 30 years in a wide variety of management positions in product development including international assignments and joint programs with various Asian and European auto manufacturers.


Theodore T. Tanase (BSE ME ‘63) and Priscilla B. TanaseTanase Scholarship Fund

Theodore T. Tanase (BSE ME ‘63) and Priscilla B. Tanase of Seattle, Washington, with a $100,000 gift, have endowed the Theodore and Priscilla Tanase Scholarship Fund to provide need-based support to full-time undergraduates at the College of Engineering. They desire that first preference be given to students from the State of Hawaii, followed by the State of Washington. Ted is the founder of Ensocare, which provides web-based care coordination solutions to help manage patient care transitions, reduce length of stay and reduce readmissions. Priscilla enjoyed an early career in the fitness industry, and more recently as a family therapist.


Sheri SheppardSheri Sheppard (PhD ‘85) - 2014 U.S. Professor of the Year

Sheppard is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University.

The U.S. Professors of the Year program salutes the most outstanding undergraduate instructors in the country—those who excel in teaching and positively influence the lives and careers of students. Sponsored by CASE and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, it is the only national program to recognize excellence in undergraduate teaching and mentoring.

In her role at Stanford, Sheppard teaches a wide range of undergraduate and graduate mechanics courses, courses on teaching and workshops on professional development. She also advises new lecturers and tenure-line faculty on their course design, serving as a faculty sponsor on several of those courses.


Support your department

Alumni generosity is vital to Department of Mechanical Engineering's success and excellence. Donations to ME help support undergraduate and graduate financial aid, building and renovation projects, and the ME Endowment Fund. Giving is easy with our online giving form.