Mary Frecker Named Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering Associate Head for Graduate Programs


By Shea Bracken

Mary Frecker, professor of mechanical engineering at Penn State, has been named the associate department head for graduate studies in the mechanical and nuclear engineering department. Her new position will be effective January 1, 2016. In this role, Frecker will coordinate the activities of the department’s graduate office, including recruiting, admissions, curricula, and advising.

Frecker will be stepping down from her role as director of the Bernard M. Gordon Learning Factory in the College of Engineering and transitioning to this new position. She directed the Learning Factory from 2012 – 2015. During her tenure, Frecker grew the Learning Factory’s industry-sponsored capstone design program to include 200 projects per year involving 13 engineering programs.

Frecker has been with Penn State since 1997. She co-directs the Engineering Design and Optimization Group at Penn State. Her research focuses on mechanical design, compliant mechanisms, design optimization with applications in aerospace, medical devices, and origami engineering.

Frecker has received ongoing recognition for her research, service, and teaching. In 2001 she received the Department Head Faculty Award in mechanical and nuclear engineering. In 2002 she received the Penn State Engineering Alumni Society (PSEAS) Outstanding Advising Award and in 2005 the PSEAS Outstanding Research Award. She was named a Fellow in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 2008.


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Shea Bracken

Mary Frecker

Mary Frecker has been named the associate department head for graduate studies.



The Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering at Penn State is one of the nation’s largest and most successful engineering departments. We serve more than 1,000 undergraduate students and more than 330 graduate students

We offer B.S. degrees in mechanical engineering and nuclear engineering as well as resident (M.S., Ph.D.) and online (M.S., M.Eng.) graduate degrees in nuclear engineering and mechanical engineering. MNE's strength is in offering hands-on experience in highly relevant research areas, such as energy, homeland security, biomedical devices, and transportation systems.

Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering

137 Reber Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4400

Phone: 814-865-2519