External Advisory Board

The Department’s External Advisory Board is comprised of distinguished alumni and other colleagues drawn from industry, government and academia. The Board’s goal is to provide strategic input, support and advice to MEAM to help it grow and rise in stature, and to promote MEAM within Penn and externally. Board members act as a formal liaison between the department and both the SEAS Board of Overseers and the Dean. Board members serve a two year, renewable term.

Board Members

Sarah Winnacker Beaudin, MSE ’00
Senior Manager, Air Vehicle Subsystems, since June 2018 with the Aerospace Systems sector of Northrop Grumman Corporation (on the Florida Space Coast). Northrop Grumman is a major aerospace and defense company, founded in 1939, with over 60,000 employees worldwide and 2017 revenue of over $25 billion. Since joining Northrop Grumman in 2003, Sarah has held roles of increasing scope and responsibility, including air vehicle design, manufacturing, test, and program management on advanced aerospace platforms. She obtained her BSE in Materials Science and Engineering at Penn in 2000.


Mary Hollein, ME ’88
ExxonMobil Senior Logistics Advisor and ExxonMobil Campus Recruiting Team Captain for the University of Pennsylvania and Manhattan College.  Experience includes over 23 years with ExxonMobil in a variety of engineering, business, and supervisory roles along with over 15 years of active participation in ExxonMobil campus recruiting. Wide range of assignments with ExxonMobil including process engineer, refinery coordinator, technical supervisor, operating supervisor, business planning coordinator, mechanical best practices analyst, refinery optimizer, and business development advisor. Currently a senior logistics advisor working on long term refined products pipelines projects and strategies.


Robert Howe
Robert D. Howe is Abbott and James Lawrence Professor of Engineering at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Professor Howe founded the BioRobotics Laboratory in 1990, which investigates the roles of sensing and mechanical design in motor control, both in humans and in robots. His research interests focus on robot and human manipulation and the sense of touch. Biomedical applications of this work include the development of robotic and image-guided approaches to minimally invasive surgical procedures. Dr. Howe earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from Reed College, then worked as a design engineer in the electronics industry in Silicon Valley. He received a doctoral degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University in 1990, and then joined the faculty at Harvard.


Ralph Izzo
Ralph Izzo was elected chairman and chief executive officer of Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) in April 2007. He was named as the company’s president and chief operating officer and a member of the board of directors of PSEG in October 2006. Previously, Mr. Izzo was president and chief operating officer of Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G). He joined the company in 1992. Mr. Izzo is on the board of directors for the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Peddie School and the Princeton University Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment Advisory Council, as well as a member of the Visiting Committee for the Department of Nuclear Engineering at MIT. Mr. Izzo is a former member of the Columbia University School of Engineering Board of Visitors. In addition, he is a former chair of the Rutgers University Board of Governors and the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce.


Alan Needleman, ME ’66
Alan Needleman completed his Ph.D. in Engineering at Harvard University in 1970. He then spent five years in Applied Mathematics at MIT before moving to Brown University where he became Florence Pirce Grant University Professor in 1996. He retired from Brown in June 2009 and became Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of North Texas. He then moved to Texas A&M University in 2015, where he is the TEES Distinguished Research Professor of Materials Science & Engineering, Texas A&M University. His contributions include the development of a ductile fracture computational methodology, the development of cohesive surface methods for fracture analysis and creation of a framework that enables using discrete dislocation plasticity to solve general boundary value problems. Professor Needleman was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1977, and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has been awarded the Prager Medal by the Society of Engineering Science, the Drucker and Timoshenko Medals by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and has been recognized by ISI as a Highly Cited Author in both the fields of Engineering and Materials Science. Professor Needleman also holds honorary doctorates from the Technical University of Denmark and Ecole Normale Superior de Cachan (France).


Michelle Parker, ME Ph.D. ’00
Michelle Parker is Vice President and Chief Engineer for Space & Launch Engineering within Boeing Defense, Space & Security. The Space & Launch division of Boeing is responsible for ensuring the technical integrity and success of programs including the Space Launch System, CST-100 Starliner, International Space Station as well as satellite programs. Michelle began her career in the Thermophysics Department of Boeing Satellite Systems and has served in a variety of leadership roles with increasing responsibility within The Boeing Company. Michelle obtained her master’s degree and a doctorate in mechanical engineering and applied mechanics from the University of Pennsylvania. Her doctorate was earned as a Howard Hughes Doctoral Fellow while at Boeing.


Neelesh Patankar, ME Ph.D. ’97
Neelesh Patankar is the Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence and Associate Chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Northwestern University. He received his BS (B.Tech.) in Mechanical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (1993) and his doctorate in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania (1997). Following his Ph.D., he was a post-doctoral associate with Prof. Daniel D. Joseph at the University of Minnesota until 2000. He joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Northwestern University as an Assistant Professor in 2000, and has been a Professor since 2011. He received the NSF CAREER award and the International Conference on Multiphase Flow’s Junior Award that is given once every three years. He is currently one of fifteen academicians selected to the Defense Science Study Group. He is on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Computational Physics, and Scientific Reports. He is also on the Advisory Board of the International Journal of Multiphase Flow. His research area is in numerical simulations and computational methods applied to problems in fluid mechanics.


David Pearl, ME ’80
David is Executive Vice President and Co-Chief Investment Officer of Epoch Investment Partners, a global asset management firm that provides institutional investors with a variety of U.S. and Global Equity strategies.  Epoch has about $45 billion in assets under management.

As Head of US Equities, David is the Lead Portfolio Manager for Epoch’s U.S. investment strategies. Prior to co-founding Epoch in 2004 with Bill Priest, Tim Taussig and Phil Clark, David was a Managing Director and Portfolio Manager at Steinberg Priest & Sloane Capital Management, LLC where he was responsible for both Institutional and Private Client assets. Previously, he held senior Portfolio Management positions at ING Furman Selz Asset Management and Citibank Global Asset Management where he managed mutual funds and institutional accounts. Prior to Citibank, David was an officer and senior analyst of BEA Associates, predecessor to Credit Suisse Asset Management – Americas. David holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from The Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

David and his wife, Anne Pearl MD, are the parents of two Penn students:  Faryn C’14 and Hunter, C’18.


George G. Smith III, ME ’79, WG ’83
Mr. Smith founded QuakerSmith Capital, LLC in April 2003.  Prior to founding QuakerSmith Capital, Mr. Smith was a partner in the Strategy and Business Architecture section of the Global Pharmaceutical and Medical Products Practice of Accenture, based in Philadelphia.  He specialized in helping major pharmaceutical and medical products firms lead and manage transformational change.

For 20 years, Mr. Smith worked with major global firms on a variety of projects across the entire business, including research, development, manufacturing, distribution, marketing, and strategy.  His clients included the world’s most recognized pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, as well as drug wholesalers, pharmacy benefit management companies, information and data services companies, generics manufacturers, and specialty chemicals producers.

Mr. Smith graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and Physics.  He also holds an MBA in Operations Research and Finance from the Wharton School.

QuakerSmith Capital utilizes an extensive network of resources with expertise across a wide range of scientific, technical, and medical fields to bring valuable expertise to its client and investment companies.


Rick Springman, ME ’02 and ME Ph.D. ’09
Dr. Rick Springman is Vice President of International Projects for Holtec International, a provider of highly engineered equipment and services to the power and petrochemical industries. In his current role, Dr. Springman is responsible to manage the entire lifecycle of international project development and execution for private and public sector utilities in South America, Europe, Middle East, Asia, and Africa (over 15 countries), reporting directly to the Sr. Vice President of International Projects and Founder/CEO.  Dr. Springman serves on the Board and is acting Managing Director of Holtec Africa, a new startup division of Holtec located in South Africa with the mandate to expand business in Sub-Saharan Africa. Involved in the technology development process at Holtec, he is author of three patents in the field of nuclear waste management. Dr. Springman completed both his undergraduate and doctoral studies in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania.  His doctoral research focused on the mechanics of biological cell adhesion, with implications for directed growth of tissue culture and new therapies that can alter tissue environments to treat disease. His thesis work also investigated the importance of interface quality in direct wafer bonding processes used in the electronics industry. As an undergraduate, his studies focused on robotics and control theory while he competed as an athlete on the University of Pennsylvania Wrestling Team, achieving NCAA All-American and Academic All-American status in two separate years.  Dr. Springman has prior experience as a consultant working at Accenture between his undergraduate and doctoral studies.