Donald E. Bently Center for Engineering Innovation

The Donald E. Bently Center for Engineering Innovation was established in spring 2003 through a substantial donation by Donald E. Bently. The Center is contained within the Mechanical Engineering Department. The purpose of the endowment is to promote innovation within the discipline, support applied research, expand the curriculum and bring vision and breadth to engineering instruction. The mission of the Center is advancement of research, education, and the practice of mechanical engineering with innovation as a guiding principle. Rotor dynamics is the primary focus of the center; however, the center supports a broad range of secondary focus areas.

Every year the Center issues a request for proposals to the Cal Poly M.E. faculty to sponsor faculty release time. The proposals are reviewed by a committee consisting of the Bently Center Director, ME Department Chair, and a third reviewer, typically the CENG Associate/Assistant Dean of Research. Awards are made based on criteria that include meeting the mission of the Center, leveraging the award, deliverables, past performance, need and the proposal quality. The Bently Director is awarded 24 WTUs per year and expected to further the mission of the Center and administer the endowment, RFP process and documentation. Awardees that are granted 12 – 18 WTUs are given the title of “Bently Professors”. In addition to the Bently Professor awards, smaller awards are granted as well.  

2018-19 Bently Professors

View past Bently Professors (Coming Soon)

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Charles Birdsong, Bently Center Director

Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Charles Birdsong is the current Bently Center Director for 2018-2020.  His research is focused on automotive safety, advanced driver assistance systems and autonomous driving.  This includes dynamic system modeling, sensor integration, signal processing and feedback control. He is also interested in engineering education research.  Dr. Birdsong teaches dynamics, vibrations and controls and senior project.

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John Chen, Bently Professor

Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Dr. Chen’s research focused on (i) grit and how it is affected through students’ learning experiences, (ii) the collection of non-cognitive (NCA) factors related to student success, and (iii) metacognition, or awareness and control of one’s learning. Professor Chen regularly teaches statics, introductory and advanced thermodynamics, and heat transfer. He enjoys the varied mix of students from different majors across the College of Engineering in the introductory courses, as well as working with students that are learning deeper disciplinary content within Mechanical Engineering.

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Patrick Lemieux, Bently Professor

Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Dr. Lemieux’s research interests focus on internal combustion engines and alternative energy. He is currently primarily involved in the development of alternative thermodynamic cycles for the gas turbine and reciprocating internal combustion engine, as well as their mechanical design analysis near their failure points. Along with faculty colleagues, he has also founded the Cal Poly Wind Power Research Center on a remote ranch outside of the main campus, where the design and operation issues most relevant to the wind industry are investigated in a controlled way. Dozens of students have been involved in its various projects; the Center is most recently involved in the development of prognostic health monitoring systems for the distributed wind industry. Dr. Lemieux has also been involved in the study of hybrid rocket motors and sits of the Hybrid Rockets Technical Committee of the AIAA. Professor Lemieux teaches courses in thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, heat transfer, control systems, internal combustion engines, refrigeration, wind energy and compressible flow gas dynamics.