Donald Siegel Named New Chair of Walker Department of Mechanical Engineering

June 07, 2021

The Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin has named Donald Siegel, a professor at the University of Michigan and an internationally recognized computational materials scientist, as the next chair of UT’s Walker Department of Mechanical Engineering. He will assume his position on Sept. 1, 2021, succeeding the department’s current chair, Rick Neptune.

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Siegel will join UT after serving on the faculty at the University of Michigan since 2009, where he held appointments in Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science & Engineering, and Applied Physics. In addition to his teaching and research responsibilities while at Michigan, Siegel served as the associate chair for graduate education in Mechanical Engineering. In that role, he coordinated the department’s Master’s and Ph.D. programs, including admissions, curriculum development, candidacy exams and student advising. As an advocate of diversity, equity and inclusion in higher education, Siegel has led several efforts aimed at increasing student diversity and creating mentoring programs that promote student success.      

“We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Don to the university and to our Texas Engineering community,” said Sharon L. Wood, dean of the Cockrell School. “The passion, vision and expertise that he brings — both in his research and as a collaborative administrative leader — will help drive progress and growth in the Walker Department and elevate our position as one of the nation’s best mechanical engineering programs. I know he will be a strong leader and a great addition to the Cockrell School.”

Siegel, whose research focuses on atomic scale modeling of materials, earned his B.S. from Case Western Reserve University and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, both in physics. His expertise spans the areas of energy storage, carbon capture, and the mechanical properties of materials.

A highly accomplished researcher, Siegel has authored more than 100 publications and holds several U.S. patents. He is a Senior Investigator and member of the Directorate for the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, an energy innovation hub funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. Siegel was a recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2013, and was selected by the National Academy of Engineering as a Gilbreath Lecturer in 2014. In 2018 he was honored by the U.S. Secretary of Energy with an Achievement Award.  

Siegel takes over for Rick Neptune, who has served as chair of the Walker Department since 2016 and who guided the department through a period of sustained success.

The Walker Department of Mechanical Engineering is the second largest department in the Cockrell School, with more than 1,500 students and over 65 faculty positions. Headquartered in the Engineering Teaching Center on the UT Austin campus, the department is recognized as a national leader in research and education, with its programs consistently ranked among the top 10 in the country by U.S. News & World Report. With an award-winning faculty that includes the recipient of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and the inventor of selective laser sintering (3D printing), the Walker Department has been home to world-renowned thought leaders and innovators for over a century.