The GEARS quartet is Jon Ellis, Joshua Tarbutton, Bryony DuPont, and Kyle Niemeyer, four assistant professors marching along on the tenure track in mechanical engineering. They blog about their trials and tribulations about being in academia, teaching courses, conducting research, and managing everything thing else that comes with a place in education’s ivory tower. This website and its content is the sole opinions of the authors and is not in any way, shape, or form the opinions of their respective institutions.


Jon Ellis is is an assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering and of Optics at the University of Rochester, where he runs the Precision Instrumentation Group. He started the original GEARS blog about his experience going through the tenure track process and all the trappings of Grads Grants, Engineering, Academia, Research, and Students. While now somewhat jaded and morbid about the long term viability of academia in general, he cares deeply about his research and students. This blog serves as one resource for future academics for what the tenure track is like and an outlet for some of his frustrations that inevitably happen in academia. He has managed to convince Joshua that it is a good idea to blog about their respective experiences in academia, as it might be a interesting and humorous contrast between their personalities and institutional differences. (This will most assuredly get them both kicked out of academia.) His random musings are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Rochester. He can be reached at prof [dot] gears [at] gmail [dot] com and on Twitter @profgears.

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Joshua Tarbutton started as an assistant professor at USC (the original one) in the fall of 2012. Starting this fall (2016), he has moved to UNC Charlotte, much to Jon’s eternal jealousy. Joshua has laid flooring, roughed in houses, filled vending machines, waited tables, repaired cars, performed energy audits, led a platoon as a staff sergeant in Iraq, served as an expert witness, developed electronic warfare software, created one of the world’s smallest metrology devices, done lots of research, started two companies, and he can’t quite figure out why he is doing the whole tenure track thing. He has had visibility into many different organizations, and he has a passion for innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship. He has a unique philosophy of work and productivity that he will tell you all about if you ask. Whatever he shares here is solely his own and not a reflection of the views of the University of South Carolina. He can be reached at drtarbutton [at] gmail [dot] com.

bryonyBryony DuPont is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Oregon State University. She is one of seven full-time faculty working in the Design Engineering Laboratory, the largest academic mechanical design group in the US. Bryony’s students work in design automation for renewable energy systems and sustainability, research areas that are exciting and relevant and have nothing to do with the fact that she was born on Earth Day. Bryony’s path to an academic position was motivated by an unnatural curiosity of computer-aided design, the inability to work only eight hours a day, and a flair for showmanship (she is a trained vocalist and hangs out onstage a lot). She gesticulates wildly when discussing women in engineering, engineering education for young students, the immense influence of the arts in science and engineering, musicals, and her twin girl cats. Find her on Twitter @BryonyDuPont, or Instagram

kyle_at_whiteboard-cropKyle Niemeyer is an assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering in the School of Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering at Oregon State University. He started there in 2015, and runs the (aptly named) Niemeyer Research Group. As a grad student and postdoc, Kyle started following the original GEARS blog for advice on tenure-track job applications, which while (eventually) successful cannot necessarily be attributed to Jon or Joshua’s work, since correlation ≠ causation. His path to an academic position is probably not the best for others to emulate, but nevertheless Kyle wants to share his opinions on the process, in addition to his strong feelings on open science (open access, open-source software, open data). Kyle can be reached at kyle [dot] niemeyer [at] gmail [dot] com and on Twitter as @kyleniemeyer, where he tweets regularly on varied topics including research, open science, politics (particularly when related to research funding), and typography.