Associate Professor L. (Maha) Mahadevan of mechanical engineering received the Harold E. Edgerton Faculty Achievement Award at last week's faculty meeting, when one undergraduate and three new graduate degrees were also discussed.
The faculty also adopted changes in exam and term regulations discussed at the March meeting and accepted a slate of nominations for 2000-2001.
In announcing the Edgerton winner, Pauline Maier, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor in the history section, said Professor Mahadevan has been described as "probably the most creative young researcher in classical nonlinear physics anywhere in the world today." She noted his wide range of interests and ability to study "everyday phenomena" such as how paper crumples and sheets fold, and "the honey pours onto toast" problem, which involves the coiling of a viscous fluid column. His study of the geometry and physics behind the basic building block of a crumpled object appeared in Nature last year (MIT Tech Talk, September 15, 1999).
"Professor Mahadevan has an enviable talent for describing his research with prose that is spare, clear and even elegant," she said.
The Edgerton Award, established in 1982, is given each year to an untenured faculty member for exceptional distinction in teaching and in research or scholarship.
Professor Mahadevan joined the MIT faculty in 1996. He received the BTech in mechanical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology at Madras in 1986, the MS in engineering mechanics from the University of Texas at Austin in 1987, and the MS in mathematics (1992) and the PhD in applied mechanics (1995) from Stanford University.
"This is a great honor," said Professor Mahadevan, who holds the Karl Van Tassel Career Development Professorship. "I hope to live up to it."
The proposed new degree programs are:
ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ An SB in physics aimed at undergraduates who plan to pursue careers in other fields, including medicine, business, law or engineering. In introducing the proposal, Professor Thomas J. Greytak of physics noted that a similar program at Harvard had increased the number of physics majors there dramatically. He anticipated that the broader program would be equally popular at MIT.
ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ The MEng in materials science and engineering aimed at undergraduates who plan to attend graduate school immediately following graduation, professionals retooling for a new career or job, and experienced professionals whose companies want to train them for new or increased responsibilities. Associate Professor Eugene A. Fitzgerald of materials science and engineering said the intensive 12-month program would be advertised in the fall and the first group of students would enroll during the summer of 2001. It would be reevaluated in 2007.
ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ The addition of an MEng in biomedical engineering and an SM in bioengineering, proposed by the Division of Bioengineering and Environmental Health (BEH).
The five-year MEng program would be aimed at students working toward an SB in the School of Engineering or the School of Science. Professor Roger D. Kamm of BEH said the program would attract students interested in careers in the biomedical or biotech industries, a medical degree or additional graduate studies. The program, scheduled to be introduced in 2000-01, would be open to 10-15 students initially.
The SM is intended mainly for students who are not continuing in the BEH PhD program in bioengineering. Professor William M. Deen of BEH said it also could be the first MIT graduate degree awarded to certain students entering the PhD program in medical engineering and medical physics of the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. The students would mainly come from outside MIT.
The faculty will act on these proposals at its May meeting.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 26, 2000.