Professor recognized by ASME for furthering engineering design education


By Erin Cassidy Hendrick

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Timothy W. Simpson, interim head of the School of Engineering Design, Technology, and Professional Programs and the Paul Morrow Professor in Engineering Design and Manufacturing at Penn State, was recently recognized by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) for his impact on engineering design education and his role as a mentor for engineering educators and students.

The honor, the Ruth and Joel Spira Outstanding Design Educator Award, was established in 2001 and recognizes a person who “exemplifies the best in furthering engineering design education,” according to ASME.

Simpson is a long-standing advocate for engineering education, particularly focused on developing relationships between budding engineers and industry partners, to both increase engagement and to prepare students for their future careers.

As the director of the Bernard M. Gordon Learning Factory from 2007 to 2012, Simpson helped catapult the College of Engineering’s capstone design program into the largest college-wide, industry-sponsored initiative of its kind in the United States.

Simpson has also extended his efforts to industry outreach and education, through professional and workforce development. Since 1998, Simpson has created and taught over 30 workshops and professional courses on product family and product platform design to translate his research into practice for professionals at leading companies, including Proctor & Gamble, Whirlpool and Black & Decker.

During the pandemic, Simpson even ensured these trainings could continue using virtual reality. In April 2020, he taught 20 students located around Europe using his unique avatar to communicate the classes.

Simpson was also critical in launching the Additive Manufacturing and Design Graduate Program, one of the first 3D-printing educational offerings in the country. Having grown to over 200 resident students and online practitioners from over 80 different companies, the program’s student enrollment, alumni and impact have continued to grow, thanks in large part to Simpson’s efforts. He continues to emphasize industry connections within the program, both recruiting and delivering workshops and training for students and interested companies.

“I have always wanted to ensure that my courses and design research is impactful and relevant to the real world and I have been very fortunate to engage so many companies and practitioners throughout my career,” Simpson said. “It is always scary to get up in front of a group of engineers at a company and tell them how to do their jobs better, but there is no better way to validate the work you do.”

Simpson received the award at the ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conferences held in August.


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