The Department of Mechanical Engineering is excited to announce the arrival of Pai Wang, Ph.D., who just joined our tenured and tenure-track faculty as an assistant professor. Dr Wang earned his Ph.D. and M.S. from Harvard University in Cambridge, MA in 2016 and 2012, respectively. Here at the U he directs the Utah WAVES group (wave mechanics, architected materials and vibrations in engineering systems). Wave mechanics is a powerful and versatile tool to help us understand, analyze and design materials and devices. In fact, wave phenomena are everywhere in our surroundings.

“If you think about it on a very basic level, fundamental scientific models for the physical world around us fall into just two main categories: particles and waves. A lot of surprising findings in modern physics are direct consequences of the wave-like behaviors of various things,” said Wang. “Our group’s objective here in Utah, is to transfer new discoveries in condensed matter physics into real world applications at the macroscopic scale. Our focus is on the designs of architected materials for the manipulation of mechanical waves. They are commonly referred to as phononic crystals and acoustic metamaterials – systems with unconventional dynamic properties emerging from their micro-structures instead of their constituent materials.”

By exploring novel ideas, the Utah WAVES group is on a mission to take on several grand challenges in engineering, such as:

  • Control mechanical vibrations for high-efficiency energy production, transmission and consumption
  • Improve the precision of acoustic diagnostic and therapeutic apparatus for accurate and cost-effective human healthcare
  • Mitigate the detrimental effects of ambient noise and structural vibrations in urban living environment

Wang said, “I have found the department a vibrant and energizing place for cutting-edge explorations on multiple frontiers. Research synergies emerge on a regular basis. There are simply so many potential opportunities for collaborations that it is almost overwhelming!” Regarding his first impressions of moving to Utah, Wang said, “Besides the highly-famed Utah outdoor adventures, I highly value the rich cultural experience, a wide range of culinary options and the day-to-day convenience in the perfectly-sized Salt Lake City.”