Expert in Nanomaterials Joins
Fast-Growing Mechanical Engineering Department

The latest addition to the rapidly expanding Department of Mechanical Engineering at UT Dallas is an expert in the mechanics of materials and the first holder of the Louis Beecherl Jr. Chair in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science.

Hongbing LuA highly productive researcher, Dr. Hongbing Lu has received more than 35 contracts and grants totaling nearly $10 million in the past decade. His research interests include nano-indentation, visco-elasticity, experimental mechanics and the mechanics of nanostructured materials.

“Hongbing Lu’s work is inherently interdisciplinary, his area of expertise is central to the field of mechanical engineering, and his research focus is in close alignment with the mechanical engineering department’s strategic direction,” said Dr. Mario Rotea, head of the department. “I’m confident he will play an important role in helping us build a world-class mechanical engineering department.”

Lu joins the mechanical engineering faculty just months after the arrival of another notable researcher, Mathukumalli Vidyasagar, an expert on artificial intelligence, robotics and industrial software who was previously in charge of advanced technology at Tata Consultancy Services, India’s largest information technology firm.

Before joining UT Dallas Lu was the PACCAR Professor of Engineering at the University of North Texas, and prior to that he spent more than 10 years on the faculty of the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Oklahoma State University.

His most recent work includes a National Science Foundation-funded project to improve upon the kind of insulation material used to protect the delicate electronics of NASA’s rovers on the surface of Mars. He and his collaborator from Missouri University of Science and Technology boosted the interlocking among microscopic strands of material known as nanoworms, resulting in a multifunctional material with exceptional thermal insulation, acoustic dampening and energy-absorption capabilities.

Lu received his doctorate in aeronautics from Caltech in 1997. He also holds a master’s in engineering mechanics from Tsinghua University and a bachelor’s in solid mechanics from Huazhong University of Science and Technology. He has authored 50 journal publications, written four book chapters and received one U.S. patent. He has also supervised 32 doctoral dissertations and master’s theses, and he has received several awards of recognition for both his research and teaching.

The chair he fills was established through a generous gift in fall 2009 by Julia and Louis Beecherl Jr.

Less than two years old, the mechanical engineering department at UT Dallas already enrolls more than 150 students and anticipates doubling that enrollment by next fall.