Professor Desiderio Kovar has recently been awarded the Outstanding Graduate Adviser Award by The University of Texas at Austin's Graduate School. The Department of Mechanical Engineering wishes to extend congratulations and gratitude to him for continuing to provide excellent support and guidance to our graduate students.
Outstanding Graduate Adviser Award
This awards is given to only one faculty member at the university and is part of a series of professional awards granted annually by The University of Texas at Austin Graduate School. It is accompanied by a $3,000 prize meant to recognize exemplary faculty service at the graduate level.
Kovar has been a professor of the Department of Mechanical Engineering since 1997 and is affiliated with the Texas Materials Institute and the Center for Nano and Molecular Science and Technology. He became the graduate adviser for the interdisciplinary Materials Science and Engineering (MS&E) Graduate Program in 2005 when the program was facing a decline in student enrollment and faculty dedication. Upon his assignment as adviser for the program, Kovar led an overhaul of nearly every aspect of the program. In addition to several other changes, Kovar designed a new cirriculum focused on three major areas which has both improved the organization of the program and attracted significantly more interest from competitive applicants. Thanks to his efforts, MS&E has seen significant improvements including an approximate 100% increase in US applicants, 67% increase in student enrollment, 25% increase in supervising faculty, a rise from 25th in 2006 to 19th in 2011 in US News and World Report rankings, and overall higher GRE scores and GPAs of applicants to the program.
Kovar's areas of study involve microstructure/property relationships in ceramics, metals, and composites. He has studied the influence of grain size, grain shape, and grain size distribution on the fracture resistance and mechanical reliability of toughened ceramics. At The University of Texas at Austin, he developed a lower cost method for fabricating bulk, highly textured alumina ceramics and studied the influence of texture on fracture resistance of this material. He has also studied the fracture resistance and high temperature mechanical behavior of laminates and other low-cost ceramic composites. His current research interests center around processing/microstructure/property relationships in nanostructured metals and ceramics and on processing strategies for producing microarchitectured honeycomb ceramics with tailored properties. More recently, he his research has involved processing and characterization of thin films, coatings, and nanostructured materials. He is actively involved in a multidisciplinary research project aimed at producing high volume quantities of nanoparticles by laser ablation from microparticles. The nanoparticles are impacted at high velocity to create thick films at lower temperatures than is possible using conventional powders. Nanoparticles and nanostructured films of WC (tungsten carbide), PZT (lead zirconate titanate), silver, CdSe (cadmium selenide), and Terfenol have been successfully produced using this technique. He is also involved in a collaborative research projects aimed at fabricating lower cost, higher performance solid oxide fuel cells and high performance honeycomb ceramics.