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Tickle College of Engineering

University of Tennessee Tickle College of Engineering Names Two New Department Heads

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.–Dean Wayne T. Davis has recently named two new department heads for the Tickle College of Engineering.

Dr. John E. Kobza, previously the Interim Department Chair of Industrial Engineering and Senior Associate Dean at the Edward E. Whitacre Tickle College of Engineering at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, will be the new professor and department head of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE).

Dr. Matthew M. Mench, the UT Condra Chair of Excellence and a professor in mechanical engineering at the University of Tennessee, will be the new department head of the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering (MABE).

Both appointments are effective August 1, 2013.

Kobza received his BS degree in electrical engineering from Washington State University, his MS degree in electrical engineering from Clemson University, and his PhD in industrial and systems engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

He began his career as an assistant professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, then joined the Department of Industrial Engineering at Texas Tech as an associate professor and was promoted to full professor in 2006. He was the associate department chair from 2006-2008 and was named senior associate dean in 2009. He served as interim department chair beginning in 2012. Kobza also was an instructor for the Department of Industrial Engineering at Kasetsart University in Bangkok, Thailand, in 2004 and was a visiting professor in the Department of Systems Engineering at the US Military Academy at West Point from 2005-2006.

Kobza received the Texas Tech Alumni Association New Faculty Award in 2003; he was chosen as one of three researchers to represent Texas Tech at “Research Education for Texas,” an engineering and technology event in Austin in 2003; and he was inducted into the Texas Tech University Teaching Academy in 2002. He also received the Texas Tech Industrial Engineering Professor of the Year Award, presented by the Texas Tech chapter of the Institute of Industrial Engineers, in 2000.

Kobza has provided expertise for numerous media reports and articles with outlets including Fox News, Dateline NBC, the British Broadcasting Corporation, National Public Radio, U.S. News & World Report, the Saturday Evening Post, The London Times, and the Daily Mail.

He is a Fellow of the Institute of Industrial Engineers, the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers–Communications Society, and the American Society for Engineering Education. He is a licensed Professional Engineer in the state of Texas.

The ISE department will be housed in the new John D. Tickle Engineering Building in the fall of 2013. The $23.1 million, one hundred ten thousand square-foot facility will offer state-of-the-art research and teaching opportunities for faculty and students. The department has recently increased the number of faculty and plans to expand research efforts and enhance academic programs and outreach under the new leadership.

Mench received his BS, MS, and PhD degrees, all in mechanical engineering, from The Pennsylvania State University.

He began his career as an assistant professor and research associate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Pennsylvania State University. He was promoted to associate professor a year early in 2007. Mench joined the faculty of MABE at UT in 2010 as a professor and the Condra Chair of Excellence. Mench also has a joint faculty appointment with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and has a joint courtesy faculty position with the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

Mench was awarded a National Science Foundation Early Career Development (CAREER) Award in 2007 to support his research on fuel cells. He is the author of the textbook Fuel Cell Engines, over one hundred research publications, and several patents. His research work has been supported by numerous industrial and government agencies.

In 2013, Mench was named as a UT Tickle College of Engineering Research Fellow. He received the Premier Teaching Award in 2009 and the Outstanding Teaching Award in 2006 from the Penn State Engineering Society.

Mench also serves as the executive vice president of the International Society for Hydrogen Energy and is an associate editor and a former member of the editorial board of The International Journal of Hydrogen Energy.

Mench is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He is also a member of the Electrochemical Society and the American Society for Engineering Education.

MABE is one of the college’s largest departments, with approximately thirty full-time faculty members and a total enrollment of over one thousand one hundred students. Research activities are funded by highly respected government agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy (DOE), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Department of Defense (DOD), and by industrial companies such as Exxon, Boeing, Denso, Dupuy, and Lexmark.

For more information, contact Kim Cowart at (865) 974-0686/


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