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New Mexico State University

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Tom Burton named head of Mechanical Engineering Department at NMSU

Tom Burton, former chair of the Mechanical Engineering Department at Texas Tech University, has been named head of the Mechanical Engineering Department at New Mexico State University. He begins his duties June 1.

Tom Burton

Burton received a B.S. with a major in aeronautical engineering from the California Institute of Technology. He earned a master's degree and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and applied mechanics from the University of Pennsylvania.

Burton spent eight years working as an aerospace engineer with GE's Missile and Space Division in Valley Forge, Pa., before joining the faculty of Washington State University in 1977. After 18 years at Washington State, he joined the faculty at Texas Tech University, where he served as head of the Mechanical Engineering Department from July 1995 until August 2004. His accomplishments during this time included increasing the department's graduate enrollment, improving its research competitiveness, developing a new undergraduate curriculum, hiring several new faculty members who have become nationally recognized, and promoting collaborative programs with Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories.

He has worked with researchers at the national laboratories to develop simplified structural dynamics simulation methods that could shorten design/analysis cycles for missiles and other types of aerospace structures.

"Tom is a nationally recognized researcher and has great connections with Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories," said Steve Castillo, dean of the NMSU College of Engineering.

As head of mechanical engineering, Burton will be responsible for launching NMSU's new aerospace engineering program this fall. NMSU has received $275,000 from the state Legislature to start the program, which will be the only one of its kind in New Mexico.

"I'm looking forward to working to raise the national visibility of NMSU's mechanical engineering program and to getting its aerospace engineering program off the ground," Burton said.