Steve Idem's research is hot and cold -- that's just the nature of the work that earned him this year's Brown-Henderson Outstanding Engineering Faculty Award at Tennessee Tech University.
Idem, a mechanical engineering professor, has conducted several research projects for the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers, measuring airflow and leakage in residential and commercial air ducts. The work provides data to designers striving for more efficient systems.
With local industries, he has worked on many heat transfer related projects. Those include investigations with a food processing company to evaluate product cooling and packaging, a nuclear power plant study of thermal stresses in pipes when two different temperature fluid streams are suddenly mixed, and research for a chemical company to improve the quality of filter media and plastic bottle production.
Sastry Munukutla, TTU's Center for Electric Power director who nominated Idem, says Idem’s character is also an important reason he is deserving of the honor.
"Character like his is very rare these days," Munukutla said. "He never keeps track who gets the credit or who receives the visibility. He is not a selfish man."
Idem, who teaches fluid mechanics, heat transfer and related topics, earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He received his doctorate of mechanical engineering from Purdue University in 1986 and joined TTU's Department of Mechanical Engineering in 1987.
Active with ASHRAE for the last 10 years, Idem has served on several technical committees, sponsoring projects and disseminating the results to practitioners in the field. As a consultant, he has provided service to Middle Tennessee companies including Bioten Corp., Campbell Hausfeld, Eastern Foam Products and Federal Mogul, helping them measure material thermal and mechanical properties in order to produce products with more consistent quality.
The Brown-Henderson Award, established in honor of Dean Emeritus James Seay Brown and the late Dean James M. Henderson, is awarded annually to a member of TTU's engineering faculty for outstanding service.