Since 1919

The Prairie News

Since 1919

The Prairie News

Since 1919

The Prairie News

Ask the Professor: Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Dr. Anirban Pal

Jo Early

Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Dr. Anirban Pal teaches fundamental engineering and programming courses at West Texas A&M University’s College of Engineering. Dr. Pal’s research interests include the nano-mechanical behavior of materials, fiber networks, and mechanical and thermal metamaterials.  

As a child, Dr. Pal was interested in math, physics and lectures by Richard Feynman.  

“So, in maybe an alternate universe, I might have been a physicist,” Dr. Pal said. “I went to grad school, and even though I was in a graduate program for mechanical engineering: when you’re doing research, it essentially becomes a lot of mathematics and computer science and physics.” 

Dr. Pal explained one goal of nano-mechanical engineering based on sub-micron manipulation abilities for electronic and optical properties.  

“Now, the goal, at least with respect to nano-mechanical engineering, is to use those technologies— that is used for manipulating materials for electronic and optical properties— to use that kind of technology to also design materials that are more beneficial from a mechanical perspective,” Dr. Pal said. “Because the idea is you can, you know, take very small amounts of metal and deposit it. And so, you have very high levels of control over what kind of material gets deposited where. So ideally, you’re controlling the sub-microstructure and so that can influence properties.” 

Dr. Pal is also working to build modeling strategies for certain fibrous materials.  

“You can also have fibrous materials such as with carbon nanotubes,” Dr. Pal said. “So, carbon nanotube yarns, or if you’re using fibrous polymers, you can create nets of fibrous polymers. And even biopolymers, which can be used in medical and health applications.”  

Dr. Pal explained that these fiber network materials are heterogeneous, meaning they don’t have a regular structure.  

“And so, it’s very hard to understand the properties of these networks, and so I’m trying to build modeling strategies for these kinds of materials,” Dr. Pal said. “So, it goes into computer science and using computer science to develop mathematical models and test these mathematical models to look at the overall properties effects materials.” 

Dr. Pal said that students who could do well in the field of mechanical engineering would have a propensity towards math and sciences.  

“In terms of other skills, there’s one word that comes in, is ‘conscientiousness,’ which is attention to detail,” Dr. Pal said. “Because a lot of mechanical engineering designs are hugely complex, and they have a lot of different parts in them.” 

Dr. Pal said that engineering is a good discipline for students with a desire to build.  

“If you want to build something that has lasting value and it’s going to be useful to the world, engineering is for you,” Dr. Pal said.  

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About the Contributor
Jo Early, Editor-in-Chief
Hello, my name is Jo Early and I am a senior digital communication & media major from Amarillo. I transferred from Amarillo College in Spring 2023 and began working as editor-in-chief in Fall 2023. I want to inform the West Texas A&M Community and spotlight student resources. In the future, I hope to work for NPR.

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