Mollendorf named SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor

by Marcene Robinson

Published May 20, 2016

A revered scholar, teacher and mentor in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Joseph C. Mollendorf has made pioneering contributions to the field of service learning by providing generations of students with invaluable opportunities to take part in groundbreaking research on assistive device technologies.

During his 40-year tenure as a UB faculty member, Mollendorf has led more than 700 students on 450 projects, developing devices that improve the quality of life for hundreds of people with disabilities and their families. These devices include a wheelchair-accessible exercise station, a bicycle designed for an amputee, a shoulder-steerable tricycle and more. He holds seven U.S. patents — five of which were earned through his work with his students.

Supervisor of the Engineering Machine Shop, Mollendorf is a recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He has amassed an impressive record of scholarship, including publishing more than 55 academic papers and 17 book chapters, and receiving more than $11 million in research grants, including 22 years of continuous National Science Foundation (NSF) funding.

He received a doctorate and master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Cornell University, and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Clarkson College of Technology. 

Mollendorf was among 29 SUNY faculty members appointed to the distinguished professor ranks earlier this month by the SUNY Board of Trustees.

“The SUNY distinguished faculty are truly the best of the best,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “Through innovative instruction, unique research opportunities and engaging applied learning opportunities they deliver a top-quality higher education for our students that is second to none. Many thanks and congratulations to this most recent class of distinguished faculty.”

The rank of distinguished professor is an order above full professorship and has three co-equal designations: distinguished professor, distinguished service professor and distinguished teaching professor. The Distinguished Teaching Professorship honors the mastery of teaching and outstanding service to students.