Dan Inman, director of Virginia Tech's Center for Intelligent Material Systems and Structures and the holder of the George Goodson Professorship of Mechanical Engineering, is Michigan State University's Distinguished Alumnus in mechanical engineering for 2008.
Established in 2004, this award honors an alumnus of Michigan State’s Mechanical Engineering Department who has a minimum of 15 years of professional experience in engineering or an engineering-related field. The recipient must provide leadership in the engineering field and be actively involved in the community.
Inman’s work on mechanical vibrations has impacted greatly the aerospace and automotive industries. His national reputation in his field is recognized by premier government entities. Among his many accomplishments Inman has
- developed the use of smart materials for use in vibration suppression;
- invented the self-sensing actuation principle (patented, published, and used in satellites) for piezoceramic-based devices;
- developed self-healing bolted joints using a combination of the shape memory effect and the piezoelectric effect (impacting the auto industry); and
- developed structural health monitoring systems based on the use of smart materials.
As a teacher, Inman has introduced the use of computational software into undergraduate engineering education through books, articles, and course development. He has supervised 46 Ph.D. dissertations and 62 masters’ thesis. He has published nine books widely used by mechanical engineering students.
Inman is a fellow, the highest professional honor within a technical society, of the American Academy of Mechanics, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the International Institute of Acoustics and Vibration, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and the National Institute of Aerospace.
He is a founding member of American Society of Mechanical Engineers Adaptive Structures and Material Systems Technical Committee and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Adaptive Structures Technical Committee.
He received the society’s Adaptive Structures Award in 2000, the ASME/AIAA SDM Boeing Best Paper Award in 2001 and 2007, the SPIE Smart Structures and Materials Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003, and the 2007 ASME/Boeing Best Paper Award. In 2007 he earned the society’s Den Hartog Award for lifetime achievements in teaching and research in vibration.
Inman earned his bachelor’s degree in physics at Grand Valley State College in 1970. While teaching high school in Grand Rapids, Mich., he earned a master’s in physics from Michigan State in 1975. He then enrolled as a full time doctoral student in physics, but was persuaded to transfer to mechanical engineering.
After obtaining his Ph.D. in 1980, he joined the University of Buffalo as an assistant professor, earning a National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award in 1984. By 1992 when he joined Virginia Tech he had risen to the position of mechanical engineering department chair.