George Delagrammatikas: Design Thinking Meets Master's Education

January 31, 2020

An expert in curriculum design and engineering education, he also takes the helm as director of master’s studies for Duke MEMS

George Delagrammatikas

George Delagrammatikas joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science at Duke University in January 2020, as professor of the practice and in the new role of assistant chair. An expert in curriculum design and engineering education, he also takes the helm as director of master’s studies in time to oversee admissions for Fall 2020.

“His visionary design thinking with regard to developing engineering curricula and breadth of experience in academic administration make him an ideal fit for this new role,” said Cate Brinson, chair of MEMS. “In addition to enhancing the student experience in our growing master’s degree programs, he will support our efforts to strengthen industry connections across our education and research initiatives.”

"I enjoy setting up educational environments tailor-made for communities of learners."

Delagrammatikas will build upon our existing programs and create several focused master’s study tracks within MEMS which integrate the expertise of the faculty and build on areas of strength. He will also increase the department’s relations with industry by working with the chair to build an active advisory group with members from alumni, industry and government. He will also work on creating industry internship and entrepreneurial opportunities to broaden student experiences.

Delagrammatikas joined Duke after 14 years at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, where most recently he was professor of mechanical engineering. He also performed administrative roles there, including program director for STEM outreach and associate dean for education and administration.

He earned his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and MS and PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan.

What most excites Delagrammatikas about curriculum and course design, he said, is finding synergies with departments not traditionally linked.

“I want to facilitate multidisciplinary projects outside Pratt that join the social sciences, architecture, business, art and public policy,” he said.

As a professor of the practice, he enjoys engaging students in active-learning, team projects that highlight authentic engineering practices. He prioritizes building character, project management, technical communication, presentation and leadership skills while challenging students to justify their design decisions through rigorous debate and to grow in confidence as they attack open-ended problems.

He hit the ground running and is already co-teaching the Duke MEMS master’s capstone course, Experiment Design & Research Methods, providing students with a foundational experience that is emblematic of the Duke MS/MEng program. 

“This course will bring together everything they learned during their undergraduate days and have them apply those concepts and skills to solve real-world engineering problems,” he said.  The course will serve as a gateway to a research laboratory at Duke or position in industry.

In the first incarnation of this course, the MEMS department itself will serve as the client for student projects. The graduate student teams will focus on building 10 experiments that will transform both the lab space and student experience through new hands-on and computational exercises. Ultimately, Delagrammatikas wants to make these experimental designs available as open-source materials to benefit communities globally.

Features of Duke University and the Pratt School, such as the relentless quest for excellence and interdisciplinary research and teaching, are what lured this native New Yorker to the South.

“I saw a very strong team in MEMS; one that is smart and collegial, committed to both improving the student experience and increasing scientific knowledge,” he said. “I enjoy setting up educational environments tailor-made for communities of learners. I know that I can learn a lot from my colleagues here and my interactions will help me become a better educator and leader.”

The calmer, more affordable lifestyle of North Carolina also appealed to him and his family.