Prof. J. Kim Vandiver
J. Kim
Vandiver
Forbes Director of the MIT Edgerton Center
Director of Project Manus
Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Professor of Ocean Engineering
617. 258.0207

Professor Vandiver worked with Doc Edgerton in the 1970s, first as a student in the “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.

In addition to his role as the Forbes Director of the Edgerton Center, Vandiver became the director of Project Manus in 2022. He is also a faculty member in the mechanical engineering department.

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.

He joined the faculty of the Ocean Engineering Department in 1975, which merged with Mechanical Engineering in about 2007.   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 served as a Lieutenant in the US Army Corps of Engineers in the Vietnam conflict in 1970-71. 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.

More information

  • Scientific American: "Amateur Scientist" [PDF]
  • Open Courseware classes in mechanical engineering: 2.003SC Engineering Dynamics and 2.003J (13.013J) Dynamics and Vibration