KU's 'surprise patrol' awarded a Kemper Fellowship on Friday to Chris Depcik, assistant professor of mechanical engineering.
Depcik joined the Mechanical Engineering faculty in 2008, but as one student wrote, “In his short time at the University of Kansas, he has accomplished a culture shift in the mechanical engineering department through the proposal and implementation of the Eco-Hawk senior design program and club.”
The EcoHawks have grown out of Depcik’s ME 645 capstone design course and have been recognized in local and national media for their work on sustainable design for automobiles. Wired.com has highlighted the students’ work designing and building a biodiesel hybrid Beetle and a solar powered charging station. Depcik has brought a commitment to sustainable design and an interdisciplinary approach to his research. Students have worked closely, for example, with Chemical Engineers on biofuels. Depcik has led a Center for Teacher Excellence Summit workshop on sustainability education.
"I'm very honored. The students make it all worthwhile, and I owe a lot to my wife," Depcik said.
Students have also praised Depcik for matching his commitment to research with an enthusiasm for advising. Graduates who have gone on to positions at employers ranging from Black & Veetch to the Johnson Space Center credit Depcik for connecting theory and research to real world applications.
Depcik has been honored by the School of Engineering with the Henry E. Gould Award for undergraduate engineering advising and the Wesley G. Cramer Outstanding Faculty Award.
Depcik joins Arvin Agah, professor of electrical engineering and computer science, as School of Engineering faculty to win one of the 10 Kemper Fellowships awarded this year across campus.
"This is much-deserved recognition for a faculty member on the leading edge of the green revolution. Assistant Professor Depcik's approach to research on sustainable technologies helps students find unique solutions to the grand challenges of tomorrow. It is a thrill to see him honored with a Kemper Award," said Dean of Engineering Stuart Bell.
The awards recognize outstanding teachers and advisers at KU as determined by a seven-member selection committee. Now in their 16th year, the awards are supported by an annual gift of $37,500 from the William T. Kemper Foundation (Commerce Bank, trustee) and $37,500 in matching funds from KU Endowment.
The William T. Kemper Foundation was established in 1989 after the death of the Kansas City, Mo., banking executive and civic leader. The foundation supports Midwest communities and concentrates on initiatives in education, health and human services, civic improvements and the arts.
KU Endowment is the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment is the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.