Letter from Department Head Mary C. Boyce


Mary Boyce“What binds [our community] is a passion for discovering new and creative solutions to today’s problems and bringing these innovative, life-changing products to the world’s customers.”

Mary C. Boyce, Ford Professor of Engineering

Dear Friends,

MIT is a recognized leader in cutting-edge research whose origin and application crosses a number of disciplines. But as our motto mens et manus demonstrates, we are also an organization founded on making, building, and doing. This passion for creativity is augmented by a powerful entrepreneurial drive to transfer our inventions from lab to marketplace, ensuring that they become advancements the public can utilize.

In Mechanical Engineering, we integrate product development into a number of our core undergraduate courses, such as 2.009 (Product Engineering Processes) and 2.75 (Medical Device Design). Each year, products developed and prototyped in these courses attract the interest of industry and are brought to market. This connection between innovative design and entrepreneurship is not left to chance. In 2.739 (Product Design and Development), engineers are teamed with designers from the Rhode Island School of Design and management students from MIT’s Sloan School of Management to build creative products around a given theme. And the department’s custom major, 2A, allows students to incorporate business-focused coursework into a rigorous engineering degree. This entrepreneurial and translational spirit also permeates our research programs. MechE students, post docs, and faculty increasingly seek to translate their research developments into real-world impact directly through startups as well as through engagements with industry.

In this edition of MechE Connects, you will read about MechE faculty, alumni, and students who bring their creativity to bear on such diverse projects as water desalination, medical devices, food packaging, order fulfillment, and battery design. What binds them is a passion for discovering new and creative solutions to today’s problems, and bringing these innovative, life-changing products to the world’s customers.

My own MIT journey began when I came here as a graduate student in 1982 to earn a Master’s degree. I was incredibly fortunate to have advisors who encouraged me to pursue the PhD and then to be invited to join the faculty ranks. MIT has enabled me to pursue a career in education, research, service, and leadership at the highest levels – one that I have truly loved and one that I could never have imagined when I came here 31 years ago. The opportunities, the experiences, and the people of MIT have shaped me in many dimensions – intellectually, professionally, and personally.

I am now “graduating” from MIT (it just took me a little longer than each of you!) and have committed to join Columbia University as Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) on July 1. I am joining Columbia at an exciting juncture in its history, with SEAS approaching its 150th anniversary and preparing for a period of growth. Like each of you, I will now always be connected to MIT as an alum.

I want to thank you for having trusted me to head our great department for the past five years. I am pleased that these years have been marked by remarkable innovation and growth across all aspects of the department – people, education, research, service, community, and leadership. The intensity and the mutual support of the people of MechE are at the core of what makes MIT truly exceptional and what continues to drive us in new directions. I have been simply astonished by the intellect, creativity, curiosity, drive, passion, and innovation of the undergraduate students, the graduate students, the post docs, the faculty, and the alumni of this department. l look forward to hearing news of the continued frontier efforts in both education and research with our unique MIT signature of mens et manus.

Thank you, as always, for your continued support of the Department of Mechanical Engineering.


Boyce Signature
Mary C. Boyce, Ford Professor of Engineering and Department Head