Rapid growth in professoriate spurs advances across the Faculty

Fall 2011

Professor Jun Song — a new face in nanomaterials research. (Photo - Owen Egan)

The number of professors teaching at McGill Engineering has grown considerably in recent years. The current complement is 152 — up 19% from the 128 professors on staff in 2005 — and the number is expected to rise by nine during the next two years

Bioengineering is one area that has benefited from the infusion of new blood, but the hiring blitz has provided new talent and potential for growth across the entire Faculty.

Added expertise

“The presence of larger numbers of bright, young, enthusiastic scientists has helped our Faculty develop in all its areas of strength,” says Lawrence Chen, Associate Dean Academic Affairs.

“Tremendous headway has been made in materials engineering and nanotechnology, for example, and we continue to enjoy much success in broadband communications, but the reality is these new faculty members bring expertise to virtually all priority fields, including aerospace engineering and engineering and design for sustainability.”

As indicated in the adjoining articles on bioengineering, many of the Faculty’s rising stars have close ties with units outside their particular department or field of specialization. “This interdisciplinary aspect of the work provides additional, substantial impact,” Professor Chen says.

Next-generation devices

One of the Faculty’s most recent hires is Mining and Materials Engineering Department Professor Jun Song. After earning his doctorate at Princeton and doing postgraduate work at Brown, Professor Song came to McGill last summer, in part, he says, “because I knew I would find top-notch faculty colleagues and a collaborative environment.”

The young researcher and his team use state-of-the-art modelling and simulation techniques to reveal the fundamental deformation and failure mechanisms that dictate how materials behave across time and space — both at the nanoscale and at larger scales.

The objective is to enable precise engineering of the properties of nanomaterials to assist in the design of robust, next-generation devices and appliances.

The technology applies to structures ranging from large-scale constructions to microcircuits. Two particular thrusts Professor Song is pursuing are direct routes to increased energy efficiency and reduced carbon emissions.

The first is designing strong, tough and lightweight structural metals for aerospace and automobile applications. The other is extending the lifetime and improving the power capacity of renewable energy materials (such as rechargeable batteries for electric cars or high-capacity energy storage for the electrical grid).

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