The UH Cullen College of Engineering has named Pradeep Sharma the new chair of its Department of Mechanical Engineering, an appointment effective Jan. 1, 2012.
Sharma, who has been with the college since 2004, has been named the M.D. Anderson Chair Professor in conjunction with this new role.
As chairman, Sharma said his primary goal will be to dramatically improve the department's national ranking through enhanced reputation among students and other engineering colleges. One way to achieve this, he said, will be to emphasize that faculty secure prestigious grants and produce not simply more journal articles, but more articles in highly regarded publications. Teaching will also continue to remain a high priority for the department, he stressed.
He also plans to establish a mentorship program to help graduate students land prestigious jobs in academia. "We will start a pilot program for promising students and train them to be professors," he said. "A typical Ph.D. student does not know how to be a professor. We'll work with them on how to establish research projects and how to present their ideas in a compelling way."
Sharma also said he will increase the standard pay for Ph.D. students; personally oversee graduate student recruitment and institute a plan to aggressively recruit new, high quality faculty;
Even as chair, Sharma will continue his research efforts, which focus on multi-disciplinary research on properties, behavior and performance of materials and systems from the atomistic level to the gross macroscale. His current research topics include nanoscale piezoelectricity and generalized electromechanical couplings; coupling of strain to quantum mechanical behavior of quantum dots; self-assembly of nanostructures; energy storage and nanocapacitors; quantum definition of stress; and surface energy, stress and elasticity.