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Science & Engineering Complex
Robinson Hall, Room 162

Tufts University
Medford, MA 02155

Tel: 617.627.5760
Fax: 617.627.3058
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William C. Messner
Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering
John R. Beaver Professor


Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 1992
M.S., University of California, Berkeley, 1989
B.S., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1985


Professor Messner joined Tufts School of Engineering in 2012 after more than 19 years at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. There he held courtesy appointments in Electrical and Computer Engineering and in the Robotics Institute. While at Carnegie Mellon, he co-developed the web-based tutorials for the popular software packages MATLAB® and Simulink®. He is a Fellow of the AAAS and the ASME and a winner the Education Award from ASME's Dynamic Systems and Controls Division. He also received the EDUCOM Medal, which recognized his outstanding contributions to improving undergraduate education through information technology.

Research Interests

Professor Messner's research interests include automatic control systems with an emphasis on applications to data storage systems, robotics, microfluidics, and biological systems and instrumentation. He is well-known for devising insightful and user-friendly methods for controller design.


  • "Systems and Methods for Magnetic Head Translation" with J.A. Bain, US Patent 8,289,659, issued 16 Oct 2012.
  • "3D chemical pattern control in 2D fluidics devices" with Y.-T. Kim and P.R. LeDuc, US Patent 8,695,618 B2, issued 15 April 2014.
  • "Two Dimensional Electro-optic Beam Scanner" with T. E. Schlesinger and D. Stancil. US Patent 6,480,323 issued on 12 November 2002.
  • "Frequency Modulation Pattern for Position Error Signal Generation for Disk Drives" with Xiangdong Lin and Jian-Gang Zhu. US Patent 6,754,016 issued 22 June 2004.
  • "Simultaneous Bit Pattern Determination and Head Positional Information Detection on Patterned Media" with V. Bhagavatula, J.A. Bain, H. Suzuki, S. Nabavi, U.S. Patent 7,948,708 issued 24 May 2011
  • "Micromachined Electrothermal Rotary Actuator" with J.A. Bain and G.K. Fedder. US Patent 8243397 issued 14 Aug 2012.

Selected Honors and Awards

  • Benjamin Richard Teare Teaching Award , Carnegie Mellon College of Engineering, 2009
  • Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Fellowship of the NIH, 2006
  • Five-time Carnegie Mellon University Mechanical Engineering Professor of the Year
  • Senior Member IEEE, 2004
  • Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2003
  • Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, 2003
  • Education Award of the Dynamic Systems and Controls Division of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, 2003
  • EDUCOM Medal, 1997

Professional Positions

  • April 2013-Present, Special Government Employee United States Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, Arlington, VA
  • 1993-2012 Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University
  • 2005-2007 Visiting Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Visiting Senior Scientist, Brigham & Women's Hospital
  • 1985-1987 Staff Engineer, BBN Laboratories