TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Dr. John Baker was recently named head of the department of aerospace engineering and mechanics in The University of Alabama College of Engineering.
Baker has taught engineering at the University since 2001 and has been campus director for the Alabama Space Grant Consortium since 2004. Also, the UA National Alumni Association selected him for the Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award in 2007, the University’s highest honor for excellence in teaching.
“His record of outstanding teaching, robust research and leadership make him more than qualified to serve as the head of the department of aerospace engineering and mechanics,” said Dr. Charles L. Karr, dean of UA engineering.
Before his appointment this semester, Baker was a professor in the department of mechanical engineering and an adjunct professor in the aerospace and mechanics department. Baker teaches thermodynamics courses at the undergraduate and graduate level along with heat transfer courses and elective courses in rocket propulsion and other space exploration-related topics.
Baker said his top priority will be providing the best education possible for students while growing the aerospace engineering program and maintaining the quality, size and current momentum of the mechanics program. He’ll initially focus on improving the aerospace teaching and research infrastructure, creating a thriving computational modeling and simulation research group and growing the department’s doctorate program.
“Given the importance of the aerospace industry to the state of Alabama, it is critical for us to be a resource for economic development in the state,” Baker said. “Ensuring that we, The University of Alabama, have truly world class aerospace teaching/research capabilities will not only strengthen Alabama’s ability to attract aerospace related companies, but it will also help ensure that our students can compete in an increasingly globalized economy.”
Baker’s research interests include heat transfer, fluid dynamics, propulsion and computational modeling/simulation. He has worked extensively with NASA and directed students on space-related projects. He authored or co-authored more than 70 papers in journals and conference proceedings, and he has been part of 34 external grants and contracts since coming to UA.
Baker is a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the American Society of Engineering Educators.
In 2008, Baker was made a full professor in the College of Engineering. Before coming to UA, he taught nearly seven years at The University of Alabama at Birmingham as an assistant and associate professor of materials and mechanical engineering. He earned all three of his mechanical engineering degrees at the University of Kentucky, receiving his doctorate in 1993.
In 1837, The University of Alabama became one of the first five universities in the nation to offer engineering classes. Today, UA’s fully accredited College of Engineering has more than 3,900 students and more than 110 on faculty. In the last eight years, students in the College have been named USA Today All-USA College Academic Team members, Goldwater, Hollings, Portz, Mitchell and Truman scholars.
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.