Department of Mechanical Engineering Special Seminar Announcement

Thursday, November 15, 2018
12:00 PM, 106 Latrobe Hall

“The Hexagon KH-9 Spy Satellite, its workings and importance to world peace”

Presented by Mr. Phil Pressel, Retired: United Technologies Corporation

Mr. Pressel will explain how the stereo camera system worked in perfect synchronization with the incredible amount (30 miles of film for each camera) of fast moving film (200 inches per second) linearly and in rotation. This satellite was and still is considered the most complicated satellite ever put in orbit. It was also one of America’s best and most successful spy satellites. It was launched on the Titan IIID or the Titan 34D from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Mr. Pressel’s presentation will show some photographs that the system took of some Russian assets and of some cities in the US. The Air Force ran all of the launches from Vandenberg AFB and actually ran the program from 1972 when the CIA turned it over to them.

The following is a more detailed list of what Mr. Pressel will discuss:

  • Impact of zero g’s: gravity release deflection, vacuum, temperature changes
  • Outgassing of materials in space
  • Important properties for glass, invar and other materials
  • Heat treatments and machining cycles necessary to maintain CTE (Coefficient of Thermal Expansion) and stability over time for certain materials (invar is important)
  • How to best lock hardware do’s & don’ts, venting
  • Space qualified adhesives, coatings, paints, lubricity
  • Fits and tolerances, match marking
  • Compensating for delta temperature to maintain alignment and focus
  • Preloading to maintain optical positions after launch vibrating loads
  • Use of bearings and motors in space, cleanliness, brinelling
  • Optical error budgets influence on designs (despace, tilt, decentration)
  • Use of flexures in mounting optical components in a kinematic way to prevent bending optical elements

Mr. Phil Pressel retired after over 50 years working in the aerospace industry, of which for 30 years he worked for the Perkin-Elmer Corporation in Danbury, CT (now United Technologies Corporation). He was the project engineer in charge of the design of the stereo cameras for the formerly top secret Hexagon KH-9 spy satellite, the last film-based satellite. He and his wife live in San Diego and keep busy traveling, writing, consulting and doing volunteer work. He is a Holocaust survivor and describes his and his parents’ wartime escape from the Nazis living in hiding in several cities in France in his first book “They Are Still Alive”.

Since the Hexagon program was declassified in September 2011, he has lectured on the Hexagon program to many national technical organizations and museums including the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Museum in Dayton, Ohio, the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum and the Spy Museum in DC. He is an accomplished public speaker and has been interviewed by numerous publications including the Associated Press, National Public Radio, various newspapers, a CBS TV affiliate in San Diego and online at He was seen on CNN on September 4, 2016, in a one-hour documentary called “Declassified” about the Hexagon Program. Mr. Pressel has written a book, “Meeting the Challenge: the Hexagon KH-9 Reconnaissance Satellite”, on the importance of the Hexagon program to United States security. He also has a blog about Hexagon that can be accessed at

2018 Graduate Program Online Information Session

Are you interested in learning more about our graduate programs? Join us for our upcoming Online Information Session on November 15, 2018 from 12 – 1 pm! The session is a great opportunity to learn more about our programs, ask questions, and discover what you can do with a degree from Johns Hopkins Mechanical Engineering.


Register for the 2018 Graduate Program Online Information Session


Feel free to contact us at if you have any questions or concerns.


You can also watch the 2017 Online Information Session here:


24th Annual James F. Bell Memorial Lecture in Continuum Mechanics

Thursday, October 11, 2018

3:00 PM | 210 Hodson Hall

*Reception immediately following lecture in Hodson Hall’s 2nd floor lobby area


“Printing Soft Matter in Three Dimensions”

Presented by Professor Jennifer A. Lewis
Hansjörg Wyss Professor of Biologically Inspired Engineering , School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University


3D printing enables one to rapidly design and fabricate materials in arbitrary shapes on demand. I will introduce the fundamental principles that underpin both droplet- and filamentary printing methods. I will then describe the development of new functional, structural and biological inks as well as printhead designs that are vastly expanding the capabilities of 3D printing. Finally, I will highlight several examples from our recent work, including the fabrication and characterization of soft electronic, robotic, and shape-morphing architectures.

Jennifer A. Lewis is the Wyss Professor for Biologically Inspired Engineering in the Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and a core faculty member of the Wyss Institute at Harvard University, where she co-leads the 3D Organ Engineering Initiative. Her research focuses on the directed assembly of functional, structural, and biological materials. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, National Academy of Inventors, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has received numerous awards, including the National Science Foundation Presidential Faculty Fellow Award, the American Chemical Society Langmuir Lecture Award, the Materials Research Society Medal Award, the American Ceramic Society Sosman Award, and, most recently, the Lush Science Prize. Her work on microscale 3D printing was highlighted as one of the “10 Breakthrough Technologies” by the MIT Technology Review, while her bioprinting research was named “one of the top 100 science stories” by Discover Magazine. Her work has enjoyed broad coverage in the popular media. To date, she has co-founded two companies that are commercializing technology from her lab.



Hiring: Research Assistant in Experimental Fluid Dynamics

Graduate/Undergraduate Research Assistant Position– Fall 2018

The Johns Hopkins Laboratory for Experimental Fluid Dynamics in the department of mechanical engineering is seeking a highly motivated research assistant to contribute to the research in turbulent boundary layer over surface roughness. The assistant’s primary role is to accelerate hologram processing algorithms (currently written in MATLAB) via C/C++ as well as GPU computing. The algorithms are used to extract the 3D velocity field from the holograms taken in the experiments. Candidates are expected to be proficiency in MATLAB and C/C++, have strong coding abilities, and know digital image processing techniques. The assistant will work closely with postdocs and graduate students in the laboratory. Through the work, the assistant will learn the working principle of tomographic holography, apply the coding skills learned in class to real-world problems, and gain substantial research/lab experience. For interested candidates, please send inquiry emails to: Jian Gao at 

Postdoctoral Fellowship in Experimental Fluid Mechanics

Postdoctoral Fellow Opportunities

  • The Department of Mechanical Engineering at The Johns Hopkins University announces the availability of a postdoctoral position in the area of experimental fluid mechanics, starting in the Fall of 2018. The objective of the project is to investigate and model a series of physical processes involved with the dispersion of crude oil spills. Included are breakup, entrainment, and transport of oil with and without dispersants, as well interaction of oil with marine zooplankton in several canonical flow settings, such as breaking waves, plumes, planar shear layers and isotropic turbulence over a wide range of scales.  This effort would include assembly or modifications of specialized facilities, development and applications of novel measurement techniques, detailed measurements and analysis, as well as interactions with collaborating groups from several institutions. A Ph.D. degree and extensive background in fluid mechanics, particularly in experimental research, is required. Prior experience in multiphase flows, turbulent flows, and optical/acoustic measurement techniques is desirable.

    Interested applicants are invited to submit a detailed resume, including an updated list of publications (along with a sample of a couple of these publications) and names of references electronically to or by surface mail to:

    Experimental Fluids Postdoc
    Department of Mechanical Engineering
    The Johns Hopkins University
    3400 N. Charles Street
    Latrobe Hall # 223
    Baltimore, MD 21218

    Technical questions on the available positions can be addressed to Prof. J. Katz at

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