Prof. Jeffrey Grossman named new head of Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Grossman will no longer teach 3.091, ‘at least not in the first years’

Professor Jeffrey Grossman has been appointed the new head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (DMSE), effective Jan. 1, 2020. Grossman succeeds Chris Schuh, who had been head of DMSE since 2011. 

Anantha Chandrakasan, dean of the School of Engineering, wrote in a letter to the DMSE, “Professor Grossman has been a core member of the materials science and engineering community and has made outstanding contributions as an educator. He will undoubtedly be an excellent leader for DMSE.” 

Grossman is the Morton and Claire Goulder and Family Professor in Environmental Systems and a MacVicar Faculty Fellow. Additionally, Grossman has taught 3.091 (Introduction to Solid-State Chemistry) since Fall 2015.

Grossman said in an interview with The Tech that he will no longer be teaching 3.091, a decision that was “one of the single greatest points that [he] had to grapple with.” Ultimately, he decided it was “not going to be possible, at least not in the first years” to “still teach 3.091 and be a great department head at the same time and also be giving both [his] all.” 

The version of 3.091 as Grossman taught it in Fall 2018 will be made available on OpenCourseWare.

When asked about his goals as department head, Grossman told The Tech that he hopes to examine the comprehensive student experience, working with both graduate and undergraduate students. He aims for a “holistic” view, looking beyond classes and curriculum at “the entire experience when you’re here.” 

Grossman said that the department could “do a better job at integrating our view into how we can best support our students to be challenged and excited and passionate, but not to be overly stressed.”

Grossman also hopes to foster connections between students, faculty, and staff, seeing “facilitating the community and its engagement” as an important way to “add value to everyone’s work.” He explained that at MIT, “it’s the intersections between people where the spark can be so exciting.”

Grossman also reflected on the future of his field, discussing the ubiquity of materials science and engineering, which “plays a fundamental role everywhere you look: from energy to medicine to computation to climate and much more.” He added that the “limiting factor to drastic improvement” in the efficiency and cost of solutions to “pressing global challenges” is in the material used. “Design a better material and understand it, and you can find game-changers,” Grossman said.

Grossman also told The Tech that he cares deeply about the people at the Institute, calling his interactions with MIT community members “the most exciting part of the day.” To Grossman, his work is “about helping students learn, but it’s also about inspiring them,” “helping them find what they are excited most about,” “being a resource for students,” and “helping faculty make the most impact in whatever they do.”