For the Fall 2023 semester, three new faculty have joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering. 

David Freeman has joined our ranks after spending more than 30 years in national laboratories and academic research environments, specializing in accelerator and research operations. His most recent post was as Spallation Neutron Source accelerator safety program manager at Oak Ridge National Labs, where he was employed since 2001. Before Oak Ridge, Freeman was a university researcher and instructor, engaged from 1987 until 2001 with the University of Virginia, University of Missouri-Rolla, and Kansas State University.

Freeman received his bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering in 1983 from Virginia Tech, his master’s from the University of Virginia in 1990, and his PhD from the University of Missouri-Rolla in 1998.

Noel Naughton comes to Virginia Tech from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where he was a Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Research Fellow. His research explores the role of active fibrous structures in both healthcare and robotic applications. He is interested in non-invasive medical imaging and mechanical modeling of musculoskeletal tissues as well as how design and control strategies used by natural creatures like octopuses or snakes can be translated to enhance soft robotic capabilities.

Noel received his Ph.D. and M.S. in Mechanical Science and Engineering from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where he was an NSF graduate research fellow and his B.S. from the University of Saint Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Josh Sole is returning to the department from which he earned three degrees before spending a decade and a half in industry. He earned his bachelor's, master's, and doctorate in mechanical engineering from Virginia Tech, completing his PhD in 2008 under the advisement of Prof. Mike Ellis. After graduating, he left Blacksburg for Florida, working in thermal controls for Mainstream Engineering in Rockledge. Sole returned to Blacksburg in 2018 as Director of Research and Engineering at Prime Photonics, later becoming the co-CEO of that company. He will be directing the Senior Design Program in the position of Professor of Practice.