At the April 2022 Mines Board of Trustees meeting, Dr. Andrew Petruska and Dr. Paulo Tabares Velasco were awarded tenure and promoted to Associate Professor. Dr. Mohsen Asle Zaeem was promoted to Professor of Mechanical Engineering. Dr. Jeff Ackerman and Dr. Jeff Wheeler were promoted to Teaching Associate Professors.

Andrew PetruskaDr. Andrew Petruska‘s primary research focus is on the control of complex dynamic systems with an emphasis on magnetic manipulation for medical applications and autonomous systems for mining and underground exploration. He obtained his PhD in 2014 from the University of Utah and did his posdoctoral studies at ETH Zurich, where he was named a Max Planck ETH Center for Learning Systems fellow. In 2017 he was named a Boettcher Investigator for his work on magnetic manipulation for neurosurgery. Dr. Petruska earned a BS in Physics and a BS/MS in Mechanical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.


Dr. Paulo Tabares Velasco came to Colorado School of Mines after being a research engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) where he developed the simulation environment for NREL’s Smart Power Lab. He was a developer of NREL building simulation/optimization tool BEopt. Prior to that he was a postdoctoral researcher at NREL where he led NREL technical research on phase change materials in collaboration with the Department of Energy Building Envelope and Windows R&D program, Oak Ridge National Lab, and Fraunhofer CSE. He also validated and improved the finite-difference/phase change material (PCM) model in EnergyPlus and analyzed pre-cooling strategies in residential buildings to reduce electric peak demand. Dr. Tabares-Velasco’s work at Penn State on vegetated roofs has been recognized with the 2009 Crosby Field Award, 2009 Willis H. Carrier Award and 2009 Best Poster Award by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the 2011 Green Roof Research Award of Excellence by Green Roof for Healthy Cities (GRHC) and an NSF video production. He was also a Student Project Engineer at the Industrial Assessment Center at Colorado State University (CSU), where he performed more than 20 energy assessment to manufacturing plants in Colorado, New Mexico and North Dakota.


Mohsen Asle ZaeemDr. Mohsen Asle Zaeem is a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Materials Science program at Colorado School of Mines. He has also been named a Fryrear Endowed Chair for Innovation and Excellence. He currently serves as a member of the Mines Research Advisory Board. Prior to joining Mines, he was the Roberta and G. Robert Couch Assistant Professor in the Materials Science & Engineering department at Missouri University of Science & Technology (Rolla) and was later promoted to tenured associate professor. Prof. Asle Zaeem received his BS (2003) and MS (2006) in Mechanical Engineering from Shiraz University, and his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Washington State University (2010). Prof. Asle Zaeem has published 105 peer-reviewed journal articles in prestigious journals, and he is currently serving as a member of the editorial boards of Metals, Mathematical Problems in Engineering, and Reviews on Advanced Materials Science. Prof. Asle Zaeem is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and he is the recipient of the 2021 Faculty Research Excellence Award at Mines. He has also been recognized with the following awards: 2017 TMS-FEMS Young Leader International Scholar Award, 2016 Faculty Research Excellence Award of Missouri S&T, 2016 Highly Cited Researcher in Computational Materials Science (Elsevier), 2015 TMS Young Leader Professional Development Award, and 2015 Junior Faculty Award from Mines and Metallurgy Academy. Prof. Asle Zaeem is the principal investigator of the Computational Materials and Mechanics Laboratory ( His primary expertise is in developing and integrating atomistic and phase-field models and creating large scale numeral and simulation environments to study multiscale and multiphysics phenomena associated with solidification and phase transformation in different material systems. Prof. Asle Zaeem’s research is currently supported by the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, and NASA.


Jeff AckermanDr. Jeff Ackerman received a PhD in ME from Purdue University, studying the dynamics of legged locomotion while carrying heavy loads with highly-compliant suspension systems. His PhD work with Dr. Justin Seipel at Purdue was funded by an NSF grant and the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship (NDSEG). Jeff was a visiting assistant professor in ME at Purdue and worked as a Design Engineer at BraunAbility, the leading vehicle wheelchair lift and ramp manufacturer. Prior to joining Mines, he became the president of startup company Prehensile Technologies, which develops robotic assistive technology for people with disabilities (see feature in NPR’s All Tech Considered). Jeff also developed The Eco Face Shield — a fully recyclable plastic face shield — during COVID (featured on CBS Denver). Jeff is passionate about design, robotics, biomechanics, 3D printing, prototyping, and entrepreneurship. He incorporates real-life examples from his own entrepreneurial activities into his project-based classes in ME. He is also the adviser for the Mines Makers Society.


Jeffrey WheelerDr. Jeff Wheeler joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering teaching faculty in 2017. He is currently a Teaching Associate Professor.  He graduated from Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Physics and a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics. He completed his Masters of Science in Engineering, Systems Specialty in 2013. His thesis research focused on the development of a solid-state sensor to detect the onset of carbon formation on nickel catalysts in fuel reforming systems. This research also resulted in a patent. Dr. Wheeler earned his Ph.D. from Mines in Engineering Systems in 2016. His research focused on applying optical measurement techniques to study liquid electrolytes. His research interests include instrumentation development, diagnostic techniques, process monitoring, and material characterization.