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Top Faculty Awards Announced

SOCORRO, N.M. May 17, 2013 – Each year, New Mexico Tech recognizes outstanding research and teaching by a faculty members.

The 2013 winners are Dr. Ali Fakhimi of the Mineral Engineering Department, Distinguished Research Award, and Dr. Nadir Yilmaz of the Mechanical Engineering Department, Distinguished Teaching Award.

Dr. Ali Fakhimi

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Dr. Ali Fakhimi accepts the 2013 Distinguished Researcher Award from V.P. Dr. Van Romero.


Dr. Fakhimi is a native of Iran, where he completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He then earned his Ph.D. in civil engineering at the University of Minnesota.

He returned to Iran in 1993, where he taught at a university and conducted research, primarily in soil mechanics. During that time, he won several awards for his research.

He and his family returned to the United States in 2001, when Dr. Fakhimi became a faculty member in the Mineral Engineering Department here at Tech.

Throughout his career, Dr. Fakhimi regularly published research papers in prestigious journals and collaborators with top scientists in various fields.

Dr. Fakhimi has made important contributions to the study of large deformation and fracture of rocks, and is recognized internationally for his numerical modeling work that captures local micromechanical characteristics.

He has developed software codes, CA2 and CA3, which utilize user-friendly discrete element computational techniques to analyze static and dynamic problems in geomechanics. These codes are of great value to the mining and petroleum industry and have been bought by consulting companies.

Dr. Fakhimi has applied these techniques to study the integrity of rock pile materials in New Mexico mines, including the well-known Questa Mine, thereby contributing to local resources of the state. Further, given the new thrust in mineral and oil-and-gas extraction by companies and governments the world over, Dr. Fakhimi’s work has great potential in making major economic impact.

Dr. Van Romero, vice president for Research, introduced Dr. Fakhimi. The Distinguished Research Award winner is chosen by a committee of Tech faculty and researchers from a list of people from the entire Tech campus nominated by their colleagues.

Dr. Nadir Yilmaz

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Dr. Nadir Yilmaz accepts the 2013 Distinguished Teaching Award from V.P. Dr. Peter Gerity.

Dr. Yilmaz joined the Mechanical Engineering Department at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in 2006. Prior to that, he worked in the Mechanical Engineering Department at New Mexico State University.

He received his bachelor’s from Istanbul Technical University in 1999, his master’s from Bradley University in Illinois in 2001 and his Ph.D. from New Mexico State University in 2005.

Soon after arriving at Tech, Dr. Yilmaz launched the student chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers. Today, Tech’s chapter is among the largest 15 such chapters in the nation.

Over the past two years, he has won teaching awards from the Society of Automotive Engineers and from the New Mexico chapter of the Society of Professional Engineers.

Dr. Nadir Yilmaz’s nomination for this award was supported by more than 25 students who submitted notes, comments and letters praising him for his devotion to students, his effective teaching style and for being available to help students.

One student wrote that, “Dr. Yilmaz brings out the best in people and encourages those around him to succeed.”

Another student wrote that, “Dr. Yilmaz has the unique ability to challenge his students without discouraging them … His teaching methods force students to think critically as young engineers, which prepares them for upper level engineering courses.”

The overwhelming theme of the student nominations is that Dr. Yilmaz cares about students.

– NMT –

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