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Chair, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Vanderbilt University
Nashville, Tennessee
Date posted
Jun 4, 2024

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Vanderbilt University School of Engineering invites nominations and applications for the Chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering (ME) position. ME Department seeks a visionary leader and team builder who will further enhance the department’s position as a global leader in ME education and research. Reporting to the Dean of Engineering, the incoming chair is expected to build upon the department’s internationally recognized programs and lead the ME program to greater distinction and impact.

Housed in the Vanderbilt University School of Engineering (VUSE), the Department of Mechanical Engineering is accredited by ABET, the Engineering Accreditation Commission, and is highly respected nationally. The ME department is home to 23 primary faculty (16 tenured/tenure track) and graduates 50-70 undergraduates annually. The department has 60-70 PhD students in its program and conducts research supported by approximately $8M of annual research expenditures. The department is recognized for its strong research excellence in surgical robotics and rehabilitation engineering, nanophotonics, nanoscale energy transport, biomaterials and biomedical microdevices, flow-structure interactions, combustion diagnosis, and additive manufacturing. The departmental faculty plays critical roles in several research centers, including the Vanderbilt Institute of Surgery and Engineering (VISE), Vanderbilt Institute of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (VINSE), the FRIST Center for Autism and Innovation, and the newly established Vanderbilt Center for Sustainability, Energy, and Climate (VSEC). The department has also developed extensive collaborative research programs including those with the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

We seek a leader who will move the department forward with a strong record of mentorship, community building, and support of others. The ideal candidate exhibits outstanding scholarship and a collegial, transparent, collaborative yet decisive, and empowering leadership style. The potential candidate must be an innovative, inclusive, and forward-looking leader with significant recognition for high-impact scholarship, a strong commitment to interdisciplinary research and education, and must have comprehensive leadership acumen in mentoring faculty, staff, and students. The department chair must effectively communicate the department’s goals and vision internally, across departments, with the dean and university leadership, and with external stakeholders, including alumni and donors. Candidates must also bring a nationally and internationally recognized and well-funded research program that will strengthen one or more of the areas of research excellence in the university. Ultimately, the department chair must be committed to Vanderbilt University’s mission to bring out the best in humanity by pushing new ideas into the frontiers of discovery and working diligently to serve others.

Applications should include (i) a cover letter highlighting the vision and leadership experience of the candidate, (ii) a complete curriculum vitae, (iii) a statement of research, (iv) a statement of teaching, and (v) a minimum of three references. Application materials are to be submitted online at Applications will be reviewed as they are received; those received by July 1, 2024, will be given full consideration.


Ranked #18 nationally according to the U.S. News and World Report, Vanderbilt University is a private, internationally recognized research university located on 330 park-like acres 1.5 miles from downtown Nashville, Tennessee. Its ten distinct schools share a single cohesive campus that values collaboration. The University enrolls over 13,700 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, including 38% students of color and over 1,700 international students.


With over two million metro population, Nashville’s top employers include trade, transportation, and utilities; education and health services; professional and business services; government; and leisure and hospitality. Other industries include manufacturing, financial activities, construction, and information. Long known as a hub for health care and music, Nashville is a technology center with a considerable pool of health care, AI, and defense-related jobs available. In recent years, the city has experienced an influx of major office openings by some of the largest global tech companies and prime Silicon Valley startups.


At Vanderbilt University, we are intentional about and assume accountability for fostering advancement and respect for equity, diversity, and inclusion for all students, faculty, and staff. Our commitment to diversity makes us who we are.  We have created a community that celebrates differences and lets individuality thrive. As part of this commitment, we actively value diversity in our workplace and learning environments as we seek to take advantage of everyone's rich backgrounds and abilities. The diverse voices of Vanderbilt represent an invaluable resource for the University in its efforts to fulfill its mission and strive to be an example of excellence in higher education.


Vanderbilt University is an equal-opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, or status as a protected veteran, or any other characteristic protected by law.


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