Comics + Engineering = National Award

Suveen Mathaudhu, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and
a expert on the science of superheroes.

Dec 18, 2014, RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( — A University of California, Riverside assistant professor who is an expert on the science of superheroes will receive an award from a national engineering organization that was previously won by military leaders, a congressman, a Secretary of Defense and astronauts, including Neil Armstrong.

On April 20, Suveen Mathaudhu, an assistant professor in the mechanical engineering department and materials science and engineering program in the Bourns College of Engineering, will be in Washington, D.C. to receive the Norm Augustine Award for Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Communications from the American Association of Engineering Societies.

The award is given to individuals who speak with passion about engineering, allowing the public to better understand the field and better appreciate how engineers improve our quality of life. It is named after Norm Augustine, a former chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin.

“This may be the most significant award I will win in my career,” said Mathaudhu, who is 39 and started working at UC Riverside this fall.

He said the award is significant because it focuses on the importance of connecting science to the general public at a level they can relate to.

Mathaudhu, a Riverside native, studies the underpinning mechanisms that make metallic materials and composites lighter and stronger.

He also has a less serious side. He includes hip hop lyrics in his lectures. His official UC Riverside faculty profile page has a quote from Ghostbusters. He also has a longstanding interest in comics.

The interest led him, prior to arriving at UC Riverside, when he was a program manager at the U.S. Army Research Office and an adjunct assistant professor at North Carolina State University, he help create a museum exhibit called Comic-Tanium.

The exhibit, which is on display through Jan. 5 at the ToonSeum in Pittsburgh, combines the real world of materials science and the fictional worlds of comic book heroes, such Iron Man, Captain America, Spider-Man and Batman.

The exhibit, which was previously shown in San Diego and Washington, D.C., includes comic art reproductions, vintage comic books, movie props, and other artifacts with related scientific images and stories. It shows how comic characters and real-world scientists and engineers use the tools and techniques of minerals, metals, and materials to save their worlds.

One of the sponsors of the exhibit, The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (TMS), nominated Mathaudhu for the Norm Augustine Award for Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Communications award.

The society and Mathaudhu are updating the exhibit so that it would include video and also modules that could be used by elementary school teachers teaching science and math.

Mathaudhu is also looking to connect with other UC Riverside faculty that have a personal and or research interest in the science of superheroes. He would like to hold symposium in the near future at which faculty could present their work as it relates to the science of superheroes.

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