Professor honored for work in adaptive structures and materials


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Mary Frecker, the Leighton Riess Chair in Engineering and professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering at Penn State, has been named the 2021 recipient of the Adaptive Structures and Material Systems Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).

The award recognizes significant contributions to the sciences and technologies associated with adaptive structures and/or materials systems. The award is intended to honor a lifetime of achievement and sustained impact in the field and is given only to a senior researcher. The Adaptive Structures and Material Systems Award was established in 1993 by the Aerospace Division and operated as a divisional prize until 2014, when it was elevated to a society-level award as the Adaptive Structures and Material Systems Award.

Frecker is the founding director of the Center for Biodevices at Penn State and was recently selected as the next department head for mechanical engineering. She has served as associate department head for the graduate programs in mechanical and nuclear engineering and as the director of the Bernard M. Gordon Learning Factory in the College of Engineering. Upon joining Penn State in 1997, she was awarded the Pearce Endowed Development Professorship in Mechanical Engineering.

Frecker has also received the Freudenstein/General Motors Young Investigator Award by ASME’s Mechanisms Committee, the Outstanding Advising Award by the Penn State Engineering Society, Outstanding Research Award by the Penn State Engineering Society and three ASME Best Paper awards. She served as an Executive Leadership in Academic Technology & Engineering (ELATE) Fellow and completed the Changing the Future for Senior Women Faculty in STEM leadership program in 2019.

Frecker is a fellow of ASME and currently serves as the chair of the Mechanisms and Robotics Technical Committee and has previously served as the associate editor of the Journal of Mechanical Design, chair of the Adaptive Structures and Material Systems Technical Committee and executive committee member of the Aerospace Division.

She earned a bachelor of science from the University of Dayton and an master of science and a doctorate in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan.

About ASME

ASME helps the global engineering community develop solutions to real world challenges. Founded in 1880 as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, ASME is a not-for-profit professional organization that enables collaboration, knowledge sharing and skill development across all engineering disciplines, while promoting the vital role of the engineer in society. ASME codes and standards, publications, conferences, continuing education, and professional development programs provide a foundation for advancing technical knowledge and a safer world. ASME recently formed the International Society of Interdisciplinary Engineers LLC, a new for-profit subsidiary to house business ventures that will bring new and innovative products, services and technologies to the engineering community. For more information, visit


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