J Kim Vandiver
J. Kim Vandiver
Forbes Director
Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Professor of Ocean Engineering
Dean for Undergraduate Research
Director, Office of Experiential Learning

Professor Vandiver worked with Doc Edgerton in the 1970s, first as a student in “Strobe Project Lab” and then as Edgerton’s teaching assistant. While a TA, he set up a high speed color schlieren system at Strobe Alley and with Edgerton published many of the resulting photos. [See Edgerton Digital Collections] [See Schlieren Images] It was his impetus that created the Edgerton Center in 1992 to provide resources for MIT students engaged in hands-on educational projects.

Professor Vandiver wears many hats in addition to his Edgerton Center Director hat: he is a faculty member in the mechanical engineering department, the dean for undergraduate research, and director of the Office of Experiential Learning, which includes D-Lab, the Edgerton Center, and three first-year learning communities: Concourse, Experimental Study Group, and Terrascope. Since 2011, Vandiver has been a visiting professor at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), an MIT-SUTD collaboration.

Throughout his teaching career, Professor Vandiver has stressed the importance of hands-on learning. He has worked to enliven the mainstream curriculum, incorporating more and earlier opportunities for students to solve real-life problems, engage in research, and develop relationships with faculty. In 1998 he was the recipient of the MIT President’s Award for Community Service for the Edgerton Center’s work with the Cambridge Public Schools. In 2001 he was honored as a MacVicar Fellow for excellence in teaching. In 2011 Kim was awarded the Arthur C. Smith Award for meaningful contributions and devotion to undergraduate student life and learning at MIT, and in 2012 the Gordon Y. Billard Award for special service of outstanding merit performed for the Institute.

A faculty member in the mechanical-engineering department (formerly ocean engineering) since 1975, Professor Vandiver chaired MIT’s faculty from 1991 until 1993. His research focuses on the dynamics of offshore structures and flow-induced vibration. He teaches dynamics and mechanical vibration at the graduate and undergraduate level.

Professor Vandiver received his bachelor’s degree in engineering from Harvey Mudd College, his master’s degree in ocean engineering from MIT, and a Ph.D. in oceanographic engineering from the MIT and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program. He is a Registered Mechanical Engineer in the state of Massachusetts and is an active consultant in structural dynamics with the offshore-engineering industry. He is also a certified flight instructor for gliders.


Schlieren Images by J. Kim Vandiver

On the Edgerton Center web site or visit the Flickr gallery

PDF iconFurther reading: Scientific American "Amateur Scientist"

OpenCourseWare Courses | Mechanical Engineering

2.003SC Engineering Dynamics 
2.003J Dynamics and Vibration (13.013J)