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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University September 2, 2008 | Vol. 38 No. 1
ME Honors William Sharpe's Contributions to School of Engineering

By Phil Sneiderman

The Whiting School's Department of Mechanical Engineering has organized a one-day symposium and reception on Friday, Sept. 5, to pay tribute to William Sharpe Jr., who is retiring after 25 years as a faculty member at Johns Hopkins. In particular, Sharpe will be honored for his role in chairing and rebuilding the department four years after the School of Engineering was re-established in 1979.

The symposium for Sharpe will take place in Homewood's Mason Hall Auditorium. Nick Jones, dean of the Whiting School, will deliver opening remarks at 8:45 a.m. Afterward, current Mechanical Engineering faculty members will present 15-minute technical talks related to their research. After the symposium concludes at 3:45 p.m., a reception honoring Sharpe will be held from 4 to 5 p.m. on the west patio of Latrobe Hall (in the event of rain, in Mason Hall).

Sharpe earned a doctorate in mechanics at Johns Hopkins in 1966 and began his teaching career at Michigan and Louisiana state universities. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees in mechanical engineering from North Carolina State University.

Although engineering education at Johns Hopkins dates back to 1914, its status as an independent school ended in the 1960s. In 1979, the program was re-established as the Whiting School of Engineering. In January 1983 Sharpe was recruited to return to Johns Hopkins to establish and chair the school's new Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Beginning with a single colleague from the former Department of Mechanics, Sharpe led the re- formation and growth of a department that now includes 18 tenured and tenure-track faculty, 13 staff members, 18 research and adjunct faculty, 166 undergraduates, 80 full-time graduate students, 120 part-time graduate students, 23 postdoctoral fellows and 25 visiting scholars. He was department chair from 1983 to 1988 and again from 1991 to 1997.

Sharpe, who holds the Alonzo G. Decker Chair in Mechanical Engineering, is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Society for Experimental Mechanics and has been the recipient of several major professional honors. Since 1993, he has been a member of the principal professional staff of the university's Applied Physics Laboratory. His recent research has focused on the measurement of the mechanical properties of tiny specimens of materials used in micro- electromechanical systems and on high-frequency strain measurement.


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