Paul Steif is a professor and associate department head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. Steif’s activities focus strongly on engineering education. This includes research to better understand how students learn (or do not learn) basic engineering subjects, and development of educational materials that will help students achieve the necessary, fundamental understanding of engineering subjects.

Much of Steif’s work in engineering education currently addresses learning in statics. Projects, which involve a number of collaborators, include: establishing a conceptual framework for statics; devising tests to assess conceptual understanding in statics and integrating their use into instruction; developing interactive courseware for statics that provides data to students and instructors on learning progress; and working with high school teachers to enrich high school physics instruction with concepts and problems from engineering mechanics.

In a second area of focus, Steif investigates stress development and cracking during cryo-preservation of biological tissues in collaboration with Yoed Rabin and Michael Taylor. One major impediment to cryo-preserving tissues of substantial size are the temperature gradients that accompany cooling and thawing. These temperature gradients can give rise to unacceptably high levels of stresses that cause cracking. This project seeks to combine experimentation and modeling to capture the mechanical behavior of tissues at representative temperatures and predict how such tissues respond to realistic cryo-preservation protocols.

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Paul Steif


1982 Ph.D., Harvard University

1980 MS, Harvard University

1979 BS, Brown University

Media mentions

CMU Engineering

Saving lives through advanced cryopreservation

Professor Yoed Rabin received a $1.6 million award from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health to develop technology for cryopreservation, the preservation of tissues and organs at extremely low temperatures.