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Composite photo of the four new department heads for Texas A&M University’s College of Engineering, including Guillermo Aguilar, Timothy Jacobs, Ivett A. Leyva and Zachary Grasley.
The four new department heads for the College of Engineering are (from left): Guillermo Aguilar, Timothy Jacobs, Ivett A. Leyva and Zachary Grasley. | Image: Texas A&M Engineering

Four departments within the Texas A&M University College of Engineering will have new department heads: aerospace, civil and environmental, mechanical and the newest department, multidisciplinary engineering.

The new department leaders bring with them a wealth of research and teaching experience to the College of Engineering and their respective departments.

“I am pleased to welcome these outstanding individuals to their leadership positions in our college,” said Dr. John Hurtado, interim dean of the College of Engineering. “Two of our new department heads have been with Texas A&M for many years, whereas two are new to the university. They all have one thing in common — they are absolutely the right people to lead their respective departments to new heights, and I look forward to working with them.” 

Aerospace engineering

Dr. Ivett A. Leyva is currently program element monitor for hypersonics and munitions S&T for the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, Science and Technology and Engineering. She will serve as the head of the Department of Aerospace Engineering effective Sept. 1.

Leyva has a bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree from Caltech. She holds six patents and has authored numerous papers and two book chapters. She is a fellow of the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics and the Air Force Research Laboratory, a National Associate of the National Research Council of the National Academies, and a recipient of a Civilian Achievement Medal and two meritorious Civilian Service Awards and Medals from the Air Force.  

Civil and environmental engineering

Dr. Zachary Grasley, currently director of the Center for Infrastructure Renewal (CIR), will serve as the head of the Zachry Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, effective Sept. 1.

While directing the CIR, he helped facilitate the initiation and continued development of the research labs and established significant collaborations with key external partners. Grasley’s research ranges from fundamental studies on mechanisms and modeling to applied solutions that lead to intellectual property and commercialization. His research in the area of cement and concrete materials has been honored with many awards.

Grasley holds the Zachry Chair for Construction Integration and is an inaugural Presidential Impact Fellow. He is also a professor in the materials science and engineering department. 

Mechanical engineering

Dr. Guillermo Aguilar will serve as the next department head of the J. Mike Walker ’66 Department of Mechanical Engineering, effective July 1. He is currently the chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of California, Riverside.

Aguilar’s research focuses on biomedical optics and laser diagnostic/therapies with emphasis on bio-fluid mechanics and bio-heat transfer phenomena and the development of new biomaterials. His work has contributed to the areas of laser-assisted cryosurgery, transdermal drug delivery, laser-speckle imaging, focused ultrasound, optophoresis and laser-induced cavitation.

He is a fellow of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery, a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and a member of the Mexican Academy of Engineering.

Multidisciplinary engineering

Dr. Timothy Jacobs will lead the Department of Multidisciplinary Engineering after serving as interim department head since September 2020. He is also a professor and the Steve Brauer Jr. ’02 Faculty Fellow of the J. Mike Walker ’66 Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Jacobs has held numerous positions in the college, including co-director of the Institute of Engineering Education Innovation and director of undergraduate programs for the mechanical engineering department. He conducts multidisciplinary research centered on the internal combustion engine, including fuels, emissions, aftertreatment, performance and efficiency considerations.

He is a fellow of ASME and received the ASME Special Recognition Service Award for services to the Internal Combustion Engine Division in 2015 and 2016.