On Sept. 1, Frank Liou, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, became the Michael and Joyce Bytnar Professor of Product Innovation and Creativity. On the same day, Ashok Midha, professor and former chair of mechanical and aerospace engineering, became director of the Missouri S&T Product Innovation and Creativity Center (PICC). The pair will work closely to integrate product design and innovation into the department’s curriculum.
It’s a vision that’s shared by Michael, ME’68, and Joyce Bytnar of St. Louis. Michael Bytnar is a retired president of Nooter Corp. of St. Louis. The Bytnars provided funding for the two S&T positions.
“The Bytnar Professorship is a unique opportunity to extend the department’s vision for design education and to further establish the Missouri S&T program as a national leader in mechanical engineering design education,” says Warren K. Wray, interim chancellor. “Dr. Liou has extensive design experience, and this position will allow him to further focus the department’s efforts.”
Liou, who also serves as director of the interdisciplinary manufacturing engineering program, will implement the department’s design philosophy throughout the mechanical engineering curriculum and the design content courses, teaching graduate and undergraduate courses, and evaluating the department’s design education to bring national recognition to the campus. He will also work closely with Midha.
Located largely at the center of Toomey Hall, Missouri S&T’s mechanical and aerospace engineering complex, the PICC gives students a place to enhance their leadership, teamwork and communications skills while tackling real-world, hands-on design engineering projects, Midha says. The center houses a presentation hub, design studio, prototyping loft, CNC machining center, conference room, rapid prototyping lab, multimedia conference and presentation room, fabrication corner, student machine shop, and an office for the department’s graduate teaching assistants.
“The PICC is a vital link in the educational process of Missouri S&T’s mechanical and aerospace engineering students, providing our graduates with the confidence and skills necessary to succeed in private industry,” says Wray. “Dr. Midha’s longtime service as chair of the department, and his leadership and vision in the area of design education, makes him an ideal candidate to lead this facility.”