Welcome from the Chair

Duke MEMS Chair Ken Gall
Ken Gall, PhD


Welcome to Duke’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science (MEMS).  As mechanical engineers and materials scientists, we are part of professions that contribute to society in extremely broad and diverse ways. Mechanical engineers and materials scientists are engaged in nearly all of the Grand Challenge areas identified by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), including energy, transportation, health, medicine, environment, nuclear safety and scientific instruments. In all of these arenas, we share a common goal – the discovery and engineering of improved materials, processes, phenomena and devices.

Duke’s MEMS department combines the fields of mechanical engineering and materials science in a way that is unique amongst departments across the country, offering students exposure to both the design of mechanical devices and systems and the processing, structure and properties of materials.  This combination allows students to learn the fundamentals of both disciplines through their coursework and also provides a breadth of exciting undergraduate and graduate research opportunities. 

Our faculty members are world-renowned in their fields and passionate about both teaching and research.  We are home to a member of the NAE, winners of the Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering (PECASE), authors of internationally acclaimed textbooks, and editors of worldwide engineering journals.  Our research is sponsored by organizations including the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Energy (DoE) and Department of Defense (DoD), among others. 

In addition to developing new fundamental knowledge, MEMS faculty and students are entrepreneurs working actively to commercialize innovative new technologies.  Our MEMS faculty and students have formed successful startup companies, consulted for industry on the implementation of new technologies, and even appeared on The Daily Show to discuss the impact of their research on society.  The department is also home to a dedicated and talented group of staff who guide and support faculty and students in coursework and research activities.

I hope you find our website informative and useful, and that you consider joining us in our quest to improve society through education, discovery, and innovation in mechanical engineering and materials science.


Ken Gall
Professor and Chair

Read an interview with Ken Gall