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Head of Department of Mechanical Engineering appointed


BLACKSBURG, Va., July 1, 2004 – Kenneth S. Ball, professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, will become the head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering in Virginia Tech's College of Engineering Aug. 1.

Ball, who held the Temple Foundation Endowed Faculty Fellow in Engineering No. 5 at the University of Texas at Austin, also is the college's nominee for the L. S. Randolph Professorship of Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech, said Hassan Aref, dean of Virginia Tech's College of Engineering.

"I am pleased we could recruit Dr. Ball to Virginia Tech. He has built a world-class research center at the Texas," said Aref. "Our mechanical engineering department is the home of several premier educational and research facilities, and I believe Dr. Ball's vision will complement and enhance our efforts."

Currently, Virginia Tech's Department of Mechanical Engineering ranks 22nd in the country, according to the 2004 survey conducted by U.S. News and World Report. Most recently, the department played the leading role in the university's partnering with the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center to offer graduate degrees in biomedical engineering and in its successful bid to become a lead university of a consortium selected by NASA to create the National Institute of Aerospace.

At the University of Texas at Austin, Ball developed an internationally recognized research program in the areas of heat and mass transfer and turbulence, with applications in combustion, materials processing, manufacturing, and turbulence control.

He is a 1992 recipient of the National Science Foundation's Young Investigator Award. Ball is also an associate technical editor for the American Society of Mechanical Engineering's Journal of Heat Transfer, is on the editorial board for the International Journal of Heat and Fluid Flow, and organized and chaired the Third Engineering Foundation International Turbulent Heat Transfer Conference held in March 2001 in Anchorage, Alaska.

He has obtained externally sponsored research funding in excess of $3 million from a variety of sources, and has been awarded eight major supercomputer grants. His experience with supercomputing will be an asset to Virginia Tech, ranked in November of 2003 as having the world's fastest supercomputer at any academic institution in the world.

Ball has graduated eight Ph.D. and 25 master's students over the past 10 years, and is currently supervising or co-supervising 10 graduate students. He has published more than 85 technical articles and reports, and given more than 60 technical presentations at conferences and workshops, including five invited keynote lectures.

Ball received his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Lehigh University in 1982, and his master's degree and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Drexel University in 1984 and in 1987, respectively. Following two-years at Brown University as a post-doctoral research associate, he jointed the University of Texas at Austin.

Ball will replace Walter O'Brien, the J.B. Jones Professor of Mechanical Engineering, who is stepping down after 11 years as department head.

The College of Engineering at Virginia Tech is internationally recognized for its excellence in 14 engineering disciplines and computer science. The college's 5,600 undergraduates benefit from an innovative curriculum that provides a "hands-on, minds-on" approach to engineering education, complementing classroom instruction with two unique design-and-build facilities and a strong Cooperative Education Program. With more than 50 research centers and numerous laboratories, the college offers its 2,000 graduate students opportunities in advanced fields of study such as biomedical engineering, state-of-the-art microelectronics, and nanotechnology.

Founded in 1872 as a land-grant college, Virginia Tech has grown to become the largest university in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Today, Virginia Tech's eight colleges are dedicated to putting knowledge to work through teaching, research, and outreach activities and to fulfilling its vision to be among the top 30 research universities in the nation. At its 2,600-acre main campus located in Blacksburg and other campus centers in Northern Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Roanoke, Virginia Tech enrolls more than 28,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries in 180 academic degree programs.