Evelyn Wang named head of Department of Mechanical Engineering

Evelyn Wang, the Gail E. Kendall (1978) Professor and director of MIT’s Device Research Laboratory, has been named head of the MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering, effective July 1.

“Professor Wang’s accomplishments as a researcher and as an educator have been remarkable,” says Anantha Chandrakasan, dean of the School of Engineering. “I am very pleased she has agreed to take on this role for Course 2. She is a true community builder and will do great things for the department. I look forward to her leadership and her input on the School of Engineering’s future.”

An internationally recognized leader in phase change heat transfer on nanostructure surfaces, Wang’s research focuses on high-efficiency energy and water systems. Her work on solar cells that convert heat into focused beams of light was named as one of MIT Technology Review’s 10 breakthrough technologies of 2017. Her work on the development of a device that can extract fresh water from the air in arid environments was selected by Scientific American and the World Economic Forum as one of 2017’s 10 promising emerging technologies. 

Currently the associate department head for operations in MechE, Wang has served as co-chair of the department’s strategic planning committee and the MechE-Lincoln Laboratory Task Force. She has taught and mentored hundreds of Course 2 students; more than 10 of her former graduate students and postdocs currently serve as faculty members at various institutions.

Wang received a DARPA Young Faculty Award in 2008, an Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Award in 2011, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Bergles-Rohsenow Young Investigator Award in Heat Transfer in 2012, and she was honored by the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Program Award in 2012. Wang is also a 2016 recipient of the ASME Electronic and Photonic Packaging Division Women Engineer Award; in 2017 she won the ASME Gustus Larson Memorial Award and the MIT Bose Award, and was named one of Foreign Policy’s “Global ReThinkers.” Wang is also an ASME Fellow and has 20 filed or pending patents.

Wang received her bachelor’s degree in mechnical engineering from MIT in 2000, and MS and PhD degrees from Stanford University in 2001 and 2006, respectively. 

She will replace Gang Chen, the Carl Richard Soderberg Professor in Power Engineering, who has been department head since July 1, 2013. “I am thankful for Gang’s tremendous leadership in MechE,” Chandrakasan noted. “He has hired amazing new faculty members, deftly managed the challenges of huge growth in Course 2 enrollments, and been a key leader in securing support for students and faculty, as well as for spaces that will allow for continued cutting-edge research and other activities that make MechE such a distinctive community.”