Hipwell aims to bridge gap between academia and industry

Hipwell[1][1][1][3].JPGIndustry innovator and National Academy of Engineering member Dr. M. Cynthia Hipwell has joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University as a Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) Distinguished Research Professor.

Hipwell worked 21 years as a technology and business process innovator to develop industry-leading technologies, as well as innovate how the work was done to accelerate technology development and increase business impact.

She said she is motivated to teach and looks forward to sharing her knowledge with students at Texas A&M.

“I think that there is often a gap where it is not clear to students how they are going to apply what they are learning in class later in their career,” she said. “There’s a lot of difficult material that you have to learn to get through the engineering program, and I think being able to see what they’re going to be able to do with this at the end and the excitement that generates is really important in motivating and retaining students within the engineering program.”

Before joining the faculty at Texas A&M, Hipwell led R&D and Product Development groups at Seagate Technology and Engineering and industrial solution provider Buhler. At both companies, Hipwell worked to innovate technology and development to create positive impacts for business and the economy.

Hipwell said she met with Dr. M. Katherine Banks, vice chancellor and dean of engineering and director of TEES, earlier this year about teaching at Texas A&M and was impressed with the vision that Banks had for the university.

“I was impressed that she was looking to innovate to keep Texas A&M Engineering relevant as our world changes and extremely competitive moving into the future. I was taken in by the impact that I could have with the students and the other faculty bringing an industry perspective and looking at how do we create innovations from discoveries, how do you make the research more impactful for the businesses within Texas and really teaching people how to do what I’ve been doing for 20 years,” she said.

Hipwell said she looks forward to being a mentor and role model for other women in engineering.

“Diversity in all ways is really important for innovation, because you get more different ideas,” Hipwell said. “If you’re really looking at driving business growth, companies that have more diversity, that have women on their boards and in their leadership, are achieving more profit than companies that don’t.”

Along with teaching, Hipwell said she hopes to collaborate with faculty and graduate students who may want to take their ideas further commercially, as well as partner with companies to accelerate their technology development.

Hipwell received her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Rice University and her master’s and doctoral degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.

Her areas of research include devices based upon nanoscale phenomena and the application of tools for innovation acceleration such as 3-D printing, machine learning and design virtualization.