MAE Celebrates Outstanding Alumni at the Inaugural Awards Ceremony


On Thursday, April 14th, the inaugural MAE Outstanding Alumni Awards Ceremony was held in the CMRR Auditorium. On this day, MAE faculty and students honored three alumni for their accomplishments.


Bernhard Knigge, former student of Frank Talke, was awarded the Alumnus Award for Impact. He finished his Ph.D. in 2000, having written his thesis on “Tribology” concerning “contact dynamics and contact forces of near contact recording sliders.” His work at UCSD on the head disk interface in hard disk drives as well as researching ways to maximize storage density by decreasing the head disk spacing represented a truly interdisciplinary approach. Upon the completion of his doctorate, Dr. Knigge went to work for IBM where he authored or co-authored over 50 patents and 40 papers. His work took him to Hitachi and then to Western Digital, where he currently works. He has maintained his strong ties to UC San Diego and the Talke group at CMRR. His prolific work in head disk interfaces alongside his mentorship of current UCSD students makes us very proud to award him the Alumnus Award for Impact.


Bernhard Knigge accepting the Alumnus Award for Impact from his former advisor, Frank Talke.



Mohammed Zikry, former student of Sia Nemat-Nasser, was awarded the Alumnus Award for Impact as well. He finished his Ph.D. in 1990 having written his thesis on “High strain-rate deformation and failure of crystalline materials.” During his time as a graduate student, he pioneered computational crystal plasticity in the high-strain-rates regime, focusing on failure mechanisms through shear banding. His research is at the cutting-edge of mechanics of materials, including material response and failure modes, dynamic behavior of materials, and micro-mechanically-based strength and toughness. In 2008, he served for one year as one of seven U.S. Department of State Jefferson Science Fellows. As a Fellow, he engaged the academic science, technology, and engineering communities in the formation and implementation of U.S. foreign policy. As an internationally recognized expert in the area of computational mechanics and modeling, Dr. Zikry is the paradigm of the perfect candidate for the MAE Alumnus Award for Impact.


Professor Sia Nemat-Nasser accepts the Alumnus Award for Impact on behalf of his former graduate student, Professor Mohammed Zikry.


Carlos Fernandez-Pello, former student under Forman Williams, was awarded the Distinguished Alumnus Award. He completed his Ph.D. in 1975 having written his thesis on “Laminar flame spread over flat solid surfaces.” His first postdoctoral research position was at Harvard and then at Princeton as a research staff member. He then joined the faculty at UC Berkeley in 1980 where he is the Almy C. Maynard and Agnes Offield Maynard Endowed Chair of Mechanical Engineering. As a world leader in fire-related combustion processes, he clarified the physical and chemical mechanisms of flame spread over solid materials. His contributions in combustion science are far-reaching and have included work with enclosure fires, pool burning, polymer ignition, liquid-fuel fire spread, and most recently, wildfire generation by metal sparks from power lines. Dr. Fernandez-Pello has guided many students along the correct path to successful careers through his work as an educator and as graduate dean at UC Berkeley. His kind and energetically animated leadership have been beneficial to all who have contact with him. For these reasons, the department is very proud to award him the MAE Distinguished Alumnus Award.



Carlos Fernandez-Pello receiving his Distinguished Alumnus Award, pictured with his former advisor, Forman Williams



Congratulations to the award recipients and their families. From all of us here at MAE, we applaud their accomplishments and their contributions to our storied history and distinguished list of alumni.



Wednesday, May 18, 2016