A Message from New MechE Department Head John Hart SM ’02, PhD ’06

Professor John Hart SM ’02, PhD ’06, MechE’s new department head, took office on July 1.

In MechE, we study and scale the principles that drive the physical world. We are incredibly fortunate to be doing this at MIT, and to have an extended network of alumni and friends so invested and engaged in our success. 

My predecessor as Department Head, Evelyn Wang, the Ford Foundation Professor of Engineering, along with interim Department Heads Rohit Karnik, the Tata Professor, and Pierre Lermusiaux, the Nam P. Suh Professor of Mechanical Engineering, led our department since 2018 and through an especially challenging period of time. I am extremely grateful for their leadership and for their contributions to the growth of MechE and our community on campus and beyond. It is a great privilege for me to step in as Department Head, especially at this time. 

MechE counts some of the greatest engineers and problem solvers of the past 150+ years among the ranks of our alumni and colleagues. Our work in MechE plays a critical role in addressing climate change, embracing the role of AI in physical systems, continuing to advance human health, exploring our world and beyond, and much more. As a community and as a department, we have a lot to build on, and a generational opportunity to elevate our impact. Our students of today and of tomorrow will help drive the transformation to a more equitable and sustainable world. 

I’ve experienced our department from many different perspectives. I was a MechE graduate student (SM 2002, PhD 2006) and joined the faculty in 2013. Since 2017, I have served as the director of the Laboratory for Manufacturing and Productivity, and in 2018 I founded the MIT Center for Additive and Digital Advanced Production Technologies. My research group focuses on additive manufacturing, nanostructured materials, and precision machine design, and I have been fortunate to work closely with industry and contribute to the growth of new companies springing from my lab. Altogether, as a researcher, educator, and entrepreneur, I am keenly aware of the exciting capabilities and opportunities available to our students and faculty today–and that the breadth of our department is an incredible strength. 

Through entrepreneurship, new partnerships with industry, and by engaging our incredible network of alumni and friends, we can create new opportunities to interact with the communities and geographies in which our work has an impact, and to develop and scale new technologies born in MechE. Across our department, we will also work to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion, evolve  our curriculum, consider new elements of our graduate program, and chart a new strategic plan. We have much to do, together. 

This is an exciting time for MechE to harness our intellectual breadth and depth, our curiosity, and our community to address the world’s greatest challenges and translate our innovations to society. I look forward to keeping you informed of our efforts and sharing our progress, and to connecting with you on the road ahead.