MSU Hosting National Congress On Mechanics

EAST LANSING — Imagine, nearly 1,000 mechanics at Michigan State University, and not a single wrench in sight.

Well, these aren’t really mechanics — they’re experts on the science of mechanics, which sits at the intersection of physics, mechanical engineering and mathematics.

More than 900 mechanics practitioners from around the world have gathered at MSU this week to continue the examination of why material objects behave as they do when the object is in motion or at rest.

MSU professors John Foss and Tom Pence are co-chairs of the 17th U.S. National Congress on Theoretical and Applied Mechanics at MSU’s Kellogg Center.

“The discipline of mechanics is grounded in physics and practiced in all engineering colleges,” said Foss, a professor of mechanical engineering. “This congress is a gathering of practitioners in all aspects of mechanics to share ones efforts with colleagues of similar interests.”

Pence, also a professor of mechanical engineering at MSU, said the country’s leading mechanics researchers have convened at this national gathering every four years since 1950. He said mechanics “puts mechanical engineering on a firm scientific foundation and helps it to continue to make advances.”

Plenary speakers for the remainder of the week include J. Tinsley Oden of the University of Texas, on “Foundations of Predictive Science and Their Implications in Computational Mechanics;” Greg Olson of Northwestern University, on “Integrated Computational Materials Design: From Genome to Flight; and Rajat Mittal of Johns Hopkins University on “Multiphysics Computational Modeling of Cardiac Flows: From Fundamental Insights to Clinical Applications.”

More than 800 abstracts have been accepted for the MSU congress. For more information, visit Also, a .pdf of the program is available at:

Commissioned by USNCTAM, the 2014 conference continues the work of previous congresses. Penn State University hosted the last event in 2010. The 18th congress will convene at Northwestern University in 2018.

Pence said it is appropriate for the congress to return to Michigan, with its strong industrial history. The 1954 congress was at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. This is the first time MSU has hosted the national meeting.

Foss added, “to have this congress on campus, gives our faculty and students a very direct opportunity to have a shared experience with highly qualified members of the international community of mechanics researchers.”

The MSU College of Engineering has six academic departments serving 4,400 undergraduate and 900 graduate students through 10 undergraduate and nine graduate degree programs. For more, visit:

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