Media Contact

Ashley Lindstrom
Communications Coordinator

photo of the Beaman Family

The Beaman Family: (left to right): Amber Beaman, Justin Beaman, Lisa Beaman, Joe Beaman, Charles Beaman (a recent graduate of the department) and Lily Beaman. This photo was taken in May 2011 when Dr. Beaman was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award by the department.

Professor Joseph Beaman

Dr. Joseph Beaman has recently stepped down from his 11-year term beginning in 2001 as the 22nd Chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and will return to teaching and research. The department wishes to thank him for his service. In the history of the department dating from 1914, only three others have served as chair over a decade. The ones who have include Hal Weaver: 1919-29, Howard Degler: 1930-1945 and Grady Rylander: 1976-86.


model of an Archimedes Screw

This complex model based on the design of an Archimedes Screw was designed by undergraduate Kelly Alexander in 2009 as an independent project for Dr. Beaman to illustrate the capabilities of selective laser sintering. To find out more about this, please read the 2009 news story.

photo of Dr. Timothy J Silverman

Dr. Timothy J Silverman, a former student of Dr. Beaman and now a Scientist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, examines a thin-film photovoltaic module.

Dr. Beaman has been a faculty member for over 30 years, and actually began his career here as a student. Dr. Beaman received his Bachelor's (with high honors) and Master's degrees in mechanical engineering from The University of Texas at Austin in 1972. He followed with a Sc.D. from The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and then returned to The University of Texas at Austin as a faculty member in 1979.

Research Interests

Dr. Beaman's work focuses on manufacturing and control, particularly in Solid Freeform Fabrication (a term that he coined), and he became the first academic researcher in the field in 1985. He played a key role in the development of Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), an additive manufacturing process using a high power laser to fuse together three-dimensional shaped objects from a powder, such as nylon, metal, ceramic or glass. The patents on this technology have been one of the most significant sources of royalties for The University of Texas at Austin in its history. Dr. Beaman co-founded DTM Corporation, which first marketed SLS while under his leadership. SLS is an important technology in prototyping and limited-run manufacturing and appears to have a bright future, particularly for making customized parts, such auto parts no longer in production or prosthetics, which must be customized for each patient.

Dr. Beaman's recent research involves further development of SLS. Other areas of interest include cyber-enabled manufacturing, which he describes as "high-fidelity model-based control in real-time during the manufacturing process." He's also interested in reconnecting with the oil and gas and renewable energy industries, since a large number of the department's graduates are working in energy-related businesses.

Educational Initiatives

During Dr. Beaman's 11-year term as chair, the department made many advances academically. An award-winning program known as PROCEED (Project-Centered Education in Mechanical Engineering) was developed and it significantly changed the way engineering is taught to students. This curriculum reform's objective ties the elements of the undergraduate experience to real-world engineering.

photo of Dr. Beaman sitting at table with students

This photo was taken in 2008. Dr. Beaman hosted an informal dinner with undergraduates to discuss their future career decisions.

More hands-on labs were established and a senior design project was added to the curriculum that allowed students to work directly for outside engineering concerns. An earlier teaching initiative known as DTEACh (Design Technology and Engineering for All Children) was continued and expanded during this time. DTEACh then added a program called UTeachEngineering for middle school and high school teachers to expand the hands-on teaching concepts in Texas. Through UTeachEngineering more than 15,000 Texas middle school and high school students have seen their education impacted through the outreach of these summer camp teaching programs. The teachers do the projects themselves and then teach them to their students in their own classrooms.

The T-Room Expansion and Remodel

photo of Jared Garrison, Steve Louis from Ford Motor Company and Chair Joe Beaman

This photo was taken in 2008 at the Grand Opening of the T-Room. Pictured, left to right: Graduate student Jared Garrison, Steve Louis from Ford Motor Company and Chair Joe Beaman

The T-Room (named after the student-dug basement lounge in old Taylor Hall, the original ME building on campus), had a glorious six-year remodel and expansion while Dr. Beaman was chair. The new space was finished in 2008. The fund raising was provided by Ford Motor Company and alumni, with efforts led by Keys Curry and Byron Short. The small, cave-like space was enlarged, floor-to-ceiling windows were added overlooking Waller Creek, a new entry was installed, comfortable and attractive chairs and tables provided, a large glassed-in computer lab ( METER Lab) built, as well as lockers, vending machines and a small, modular study room were all part of the capital improvement. Today the METER lab and T-Room are in constant use by ME students, as well as other engineering students who don't have such a nice study space in their own buildings.

Faculty Recognition

The number of faculty has continued to grow during Dr. Beaman's tenure, although the number of students has remained fairly constant due to space constraints in the building. The department now employs approximately 60 tenure-track faculty members. Many prestigious national and international awards have been awarded members during his tenure. Please see the awards page for a complete listing. Faculty and staff have received top awards for their work and teaching from the university and national societies.

Student Recruitment and Job Placement

photo of Cassandra Telenko

This photo was taken at Graduate Recruitment in 2011 of graduate student Cassandra Telenko, who received an NSF fellowship in 2008.

During Dr. Beaman's tenure the number of students applying to our graduate program doubled, with 1100 students applying for fall enrollment. The quality of the accepted graduate students continues to climb, with average admission scores rising slightly every year. The same thing has happened in undergraduate enrollment. The quality of our students continues to improve. At this writing, undergraduates are now ranked in the top 4% of their graduating high school class, up from 8% in 2008. The SAT and ACT admission figures have been raised, too, making Mechanical Engineering admission one of the most competitive majors at the university.

The U.S. News and World Report ranking for the Cockrell School of Engineering jumped to eighth place in the United States, and impressively is the least expensive top-10 school. Enrollment of female students is up to 20% from 15% a few years ago. Through the work of Mechanical Engineering's Advisory Committee, a scholarship fund for incoming female freshmen was established to attract more women into the department. Student employment or admission to graduate school after graduation remains near 100% with students receiving highly competitive starting salaries, relocation funding, starting bonuses and graduate school funding.

Thank you, Dr. Beaman for your years of service. Progress was made in every area and you leave the department stronger and better able to meet the future engineering needs in Texas due to your leadership and hard work.

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