Professor Thomas Shield Retires

Professor Thomas Shield retired this year after 29 years teaching at the University of Minnesota.  Shield came to Minnesota as an Assistant Professor in 1990.  He received his undergraduate degree at the University of Illinois in 1982, and then went to the University of California at Berkeley where he received his M.S. and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering in 1984 and 1988 respectively.   He was a post-doctoral research associate at the University of Illinois and Brown University before joining the department.

Shield’s research focus was on experimental characterization of the mechanics of materials.  He had particular focus on how microstructures in modern materials affect their mechanical properties.  Shield’s work on shape-memory materials, magneto-elastic materials and copper-based alloys, often in collaboration with Professors Leo and James, led to many important advances in the understanding of the interactions among microstructure, phase change, plasticity and fracture.   The basic understanding developed by Shield’s work has led to improved materials and more reliable design of actuators, sensors and other devices that employ active materials.  Shield served as a member and Associate Editor of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) for a number of years.  He received a NSF National Young Investigator Award and the University of Minnesota McKnight Land-Grant Professorship for his research.

Shield also had enormous influence on the undergraduate program in Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics.  He served as Director of Undergraduate Studies from 1998-2017, and was the lead in transitioning the curriculum from quarters to semesters.  Shield served as adviser to hundreds if not thousands of students, and genuinely cared that they receive the best possible education.  He also wrote department’s courses and advising database, which has become an asset not only to the department, but also to the college and university. 

According to AEM Professor and Head Perry Leo, “Tom Shield has had an enormous impact on making AEM’s undergraduate program truly outstanding, on making our student advising strong and on setting the program for continued success.  He was also a great research collaborator and a true friend.  I miss having him in the department and wish him the best in his future endeavors.”