This department contains 21 articles

Status Report

First-rate faculty. Talented students. Innovative research. Professionalism. All are hallmarks of the Vanderbilt School of Engineering under the leadership of Dean Kenneth F. Galloway. As he prepares to return to teaching and research—and continues his role as a national leader in engineering education—Galloway sat down with Vanderbilt Engineering magazine to reflect on the School of Engineering’s past and look to the future.

Leading Light

Disease can’t hide when Anita Mahadevan-Jansen applies light. The Orrin H. Ingram Professor of Engineering develops pioneering techniques in medical photonics, the use of light to diagnose, monitor and treat disease.

On the Front Lines of the Cold War

The threat of nuclear war with the Soviet Union and the fear of communism permeated America after WWII. Schoolchildren practiced bomb drills and families built shelters. With the nuclear arms race running full steam ahead, a Vanderbilt engineer helped make the Pershing missile key to U.S. defense.

Decades of ’Dores

To celebrate our 125th year, we asked one alumnus from every decade since 1930 to tell us their Vanderbilt story: how they got here, what they studied, what college life was like. We also asked a current student to do the same as a representative of the 2010s.

Building on 125 Years

it was 125 years ago that the Vanderbilt University School of Engineering was established. Today, the school is planning a yearlong quasquicentennial celebration with special commemorative events on campus and stories in Vanderbilt Engineering magazine during the 2011-2012 academic year.


Engineers work unobtrusively across the street from the Rhinestone Wedding Chapel, Bobby’s Idle Hour bar and recording studios in Nashville, breaking out of the traditional boundaries of computer research at Vanderbilt’s Institute for Software Integrated Systems (ISIS) right in the heart of the city’s Music Row. “In a way it’s synergistic,” says Janos Sztipanovits, E. Bronson Ingram Distinguished Professor of Engineering.

Cell Mechanic

Matt Lang is fascinated by how things work. …Lang works at the crossroads of engineering and biology, exploring how human cells work on the single-molecule level. He has combined his passion for building with curiosity about the mechanics of cells.

Vanderbilt was an Engineer

History remembers Cornelius Vanderbilt as a businessman—the first to be compared to the medieval German robber barons, and a man popularly called the Commodore for ownership of a steamship fleet. But he deserved another title as well: engineer.

Something Big from Something Small

Vanderbilt researchers working at the smallest scale celebrate a huge milestone this year. The Vanderbilt Institute of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (VINSE), seeded from a university-funded $16 million venture capital fund initiative, celebrates its 10th anniversary in December.

All Fired Up

When Bob Pitz studies a problem, it really is rocket science. Vanderbilt’s combustion expert, Robert W. Pitz, professor and chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, explores ways to make aircraft and rocket engines burn more efficiently, safely and powerfully for clients that include NASA and the United States Air Force.

Vanderbilt Engineering’s Greatest Generation

When Ralph Gates enrolled in the Vanderbilt School of Engineering in 1941, World War II was raging in Europe and Japan was marching across the Pacific. The 17-year-old Nashville native knew he would enlist when he turned 18.

The Infinite to the Finite

A professor from the Vanderbilt School of Engineering talks with a neurosurgeon in a hallway at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Their discussion fine-tunes ideas that the engineer takes forward in implementation.

9 Questions for GM President Mark Reuss

Mark Reuss, BE’86, was named president of GM North America in December 2009, becoming second in command of one of the auto industry’s largest and most prominent companies. Reuss, a mechanical engineering grad, started with GM in 1983 as a student intern.

Imaging Visionaries

On the corner of Vanderbilt’s Medical Center Drive and 21st Avenue is a research institute that houses what is likely the single largest, most comprehensive imaging center in the country. The Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science puts the most advanced imaging techniques literally at the doorstep of Vanderbilt University Medical Center physicians who want [...]

Adsorbed in His Work

Can the world burn fossil fuels for energy in a way that doesn’t contribute to global warming? What can be done to protect people from the release of toxic chemicals? How would NASA care for a sick astronaut during long-duration space explorations like a manned mission to Mars?

National Defender

Like other engineers, Philip Reitinger, BE’84, has made a career of building bridges. But the divide that he has spanned is between corporations and government and between technology and policy.

Adventures of an Entrepreneurial Engineer

“I love being involved in fast-paced, high-risk, high-reward startups,” says Limp, BS’88, a successful entrepreneur and chief operating officer of BrightKite, a social networking Web site. Limp, who earned his degree in computer science from the School of Engineering, specializes in ventures in the high-tech arena.
Good entrepreneurial ideas abound, he says. The tricky part is [...]

Predicting Failure Leads to Success on Forbes’ Most Promising Company List

Things break. Forbes magazine says breakage costs American manufacturers $30 billion a year in warranty payments. If manufacturers could predict breakage and adjust warranties, they could save more than double that amount—not to mention the other benefits they’d reap from improved reliability, performance and quality.

From Startups to Success

VUSE engineers thrive as entrepreneurs in businesses large and small. What do they have in common? Creativity and collaboration, a focus on giving people what they want, plus access to capital, savvy management and a singular passion for making great ideas reality.

Calculating Risk, Increasing Reliability

When you take a plane trip, drive across a bridge or ride the commuter train to work, you trust that those structures and systems are safe. Likewise, pilots flying combat missions depend on their planes and astronauts hurtling into space depend on the rockets propelling them.

A Changed Life

Back when Fran Schwaiger Presley, BS’79, was a small-town Alabama girl, a full scholarship to the Vanderbilt University School of Engineering did more than crack a door to opportunity—it threw open the gates of resoluteness.

Focus On the Small Has Big Potential for Energy and Health Care

Peter Cummings may know the roads between the Vanderbilt campus and Oak Ridge National Laboratory better than he knows his own neighborhood. Cummings divides his work and time between the two institutions 170 miles apart, focusing on fundamental research in two areas with enormous potential: energy and cancer.
At the same time, as the principal scientist [...]

Mission-Critical Systems from Defense to iPhones

With an enemy missile hurtling toward their aircraft, fighter pilots shouldn’t have to wonder whether their defense systems will work in time. Testing how such systems perform before they’re used in a hostile environment is just one of the many projects that Professor Doug Schmidt directs using building-block middleware computer software he, his students and [...]

Computer Models Guide Surgery and Improve Diagnostics

Image-guided surgery enables skilled physicians to perform difficult operations. But the images used for guidance are generally taken before surgery begins. How do surgeons account for changes that take place in tissue while the surgery is ongoing—changes brought on by the pressure of an instrument, a shift due to an incision or other factors?
That is [...]

ISIS Defends Against Cyberattack, Enemy Forces and Even Disease

As director of the Institute for Software Integrated Systems (ISIS), Janos Sztipanovits oversees more than $10 million in systems and information science and engineering projects involving more than 100 researchers, staff and graduate students.
These projects engage ISIS, and Sztipanovits, the E. Bronson Ingram Distinguished Professor of Engineering, in information systems, health care, and defense and [...]