UA Engineering Names New Barfield Chair

  • February 4th, 2005

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The University of Alabama College of Engineering recently named Dr. Ajay K. Agrawal as the Robert F. Barfield Endowed Chair in Mechanical Engineering.

Agrawal received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Roorkee, India, in 1980. He then obtained his master’s degree at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur, India, in 1983. He received his doctorate from the University of Miami in 1988.

Most recently, Agrawal served as the Lloyd G. and Joyce Austin Presidential Professor and associate professor at the University of Oklahoma’s School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering. Agrawal has also done fundamental and applied research on combustion and fluid flows for NASA, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Energy. He has published nearly 100 papers in technical journals and conferences, and he is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

As the Robert F. Barfield Endowed Chair, Agrawal will work to advance his research in areas such as combustion and fluid flow in power generation, propulsion and space systems, and work in environmentally benign energy utilization.

“The Barfield Chair offers the outstanding opportunity to pursue excellence in mechanical engineering,” said Dr. Keith McDowell, interim dean of the College of Engineering. “The advances made by Dr. Agrawal will help maintain the University’s ability to meet growing demands in combustion research.”

The donors who contributed to the endowment are Thomas L. and Carolyn L. Patterson of Birmingham. Their contribution is in honor of Dean Emeritus Robert F. Barfield to support excellence in teaching, research and service, especially in the manufacturing field in the College of Engineering.

Thomas L. Patterson received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the UA’s College of Engineering in 1964 and 1966, respectively. The Pattersons have been ardent supporters of the University, and in the 1990s they established the Robert F. Barfield Endowed Chair and the William Jordan Endowed Chair.

The Pattersons also have supported the Crimson Tradition Fund with a $1 million gift establishing the Tom and Carol Patterson Family Computer Center for Athletes that is incorporated into Bryant Hall, which will house both athletes and engineering students.

Barfield served the College of Engineering for 27 years. He joined the faculty in 1967 as associate professor of mechanical engineering and served as dean from 1983 until his retirement in 1994. During Barfield’s time as dean, the College’s instructional programs were improved through upgrades in classroom technology, and research programs grew to unprecedented levels.

In 1837, The University of Alabama became the first university in the state to offer engineering classes and was one of the first five in the nation to do so. Today, the College of Engineering has about 1,800 students and more than 95 faculty. It has been fully accredited since accreditation standards were implemented in the 1930s.


Caitlin Tudzin, Engineering Student Writer, 205/348-3051,
Mary Wymer, 205/348-6444

The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.