UH Cullen College of Engineering Dean Raymond Flumerfelt has named Purdue Professor Matthew Franchek the new Chair for the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Franchek will also serve as director of the new undergraduate bioengineering program to be launched in Fall 2003.
The former Purdue professor is the winner of numerous awards for his research, including the 2001 American Society of Mechanical Engineering Dynamic Systems and Control Division Young Investigator Award. His current research is funded primarily by the National Science Foundation, Ford Motor Company, Cummins Engine Company and Whirlpool.
"It is a real pleasure for me to be working with the world class faculty of Mechanical Engineering," says Dr. Franchek. "With the many opportunities available to the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the creation of the new bioengineering program, the University of Houston administration has created a tremendous opportunity for the Cullen College of Engineering and the City of Houston. It is truly an honor for me to work with the engineering faculty where our primary goal is to educate people."
Franchek received his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1987, and his master's and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M University in 1988 and 1991. He began his academic career in January of 1992 at Purdue University. In addition to his academic experience, Professor Franchek has over ten years of industrial experience, including machine design, hydraulic circuit design, and instrumentation and control system design.
Franchek's research activities are directed toward the diagnostics/prognostics and nonlinear multivariable control of engineered products. He is currently pioneering a knowledge base called information synthesis that utilizes adaptive dynamic models to synthesize health information of engineered products, to reconfigure/adapt its control systems, and to forecast warranty information about the product for financial planning. The majority of his research is applied to internal combustion engines where he is collaborating with students and engine manufacturers to produce environmentally cleansing engines that clean the air during operation. He will be establishing a state-of-the-art engine control and emissions laboratory in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.
In addition to his engine-related research, Professor Franchek is investigating the integration of people of limited motor skills with their surroundings through advancements of control system sensing and hardware. The development of smart appliances that can perform their functions without touch and smart prosthetic devices that can emulate touch, feel, and gripping are the primary goals of this work. While at the University of Houston, Dr. Franchek will grow his research to include biomedical applications. Specifically, he will utilize information synthesis to investigate health and wellness modeling thereby facilitating the diagnosis of illnesses, and providing immediate and accurate information of trauma patients in the field.