Judy Vance


Professor Emeritus
Mechanical Engineering


Dr. Vance is a professor emeritus of mechanical engineering, the former Joseph C. and Elizabeth A. Anderlik Professor of Engineering, and a former Faculty Fellow of the Virtual Reality Applications Center at Iowa State University. She is widely known for her research dealing with the use of virtual reality (VR) to improve product design and manufacturing and also her efforts to support the advancement of senior women engineering faculty into academic leadership positions.

At Iowa State University, Dr. Vance has held several leadership positions. She was the first woman faculty member to be hired into the mechanical engineering department in 1992. From 2003 through 2006 she served as Department Chair of Mechanical Engineering becoming the first woman department chair in the College of Engineering at ISU. As department chair, she worked with a team of 30 faculty and 10 staff to provide excellent undergraduate and graduate education and advance research in critical areas of national need.

Dr. Vance’s current research focuses on exploring the use of virtual reality as an interface to design and the use of virtual reality in assembly methods prototyping. She is leading research on the effect of adding haptic (or force) feedback to improve the user experience in the virtual environment. Dr. Vance has successfully supported her research with funding primarily from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and various industrial partners. She began her research career with an NSF CAREER award and continues to receive NSF funding to support her research. Dr. Vance has been successful at transferring the results of her research to industry partners through direct interaction and through employment of her graduates in industry.

In 2004 she was appointed to the NSF Engineering Directorate Advisory Committee where she chaired the Committee of Visitors for the Design and Manufacturing Innovation Division. After serving for over two years on the Advisory Committee, she accepted an IPA position as the NSF Program Director for Engineering Design and Innovation where she managed a research portfolio that supported transformative research in the area of product design and innovation.

Dr. Vance is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). She has served in multiple leadership positions over the past 10 years in that organization, primarily in the Design Engineering Division (DED) and the Design Automation Committee (DAC). She served as International Program Chair, Program Chair, Conference Chair and Committee Chair of the DAC. During this time she was also Associate Editor of the ASME Journal of Mechanical Design. She was elected to the Executive Committee of the Design Engineering Division in 2003, serving as Division Chair in 2007. She is an active participant in the annual ASME International Design Engineering Conferences (IDETC), regularly serving as paper review coordinator and session chair. Over the past three years, she has been a key member of the new ASME DED Committee on Broadening Participation. The focus of this committee is to encourage underrepresented minorities to be involved in DED activities, to create an open and welcoming professional network and to provide professional development training through workshops.

In 2010 Dr. Vance was honored by ASME with the Design Automation Award. In 2012 she received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Engineering from Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, UK. At the National Science Foundation she was awarded the NSF Director’s Award for Collaborative Integration. She is also the recipient of the College of Engineering Superior Teaching Award and the Mechanical Engineering Professor of the Year. Early in her career she was named an ASEE Dow Outstanding Young Faculty.

Dr. Vance led the Women in Engineering Leadership Institute (WELI) from 2001 through 2006. This organization formed with a mission to support the advancement of women engineering faculty into leadership positions, especially department head positions. She led a successful NSF collaborative research grant which involved six universities and resulted in eight professional development workshops held from 2003 through 2006. The workshops attracted 240 participants from 41 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, New Zealand and Canada. WELI continues to support advancement of senior women engineering faculty through the WELI network.


  • PhD, Mechanical Engineering, Iowa State University, 1992
  • MS, Mechanical Engineering, Iowa State University, 1987
  • BS, Mechanical Engineering, Iowa State University, 1980

Interest Areas

  • Virtual Reality applications in mechanical engineering including virtual assembly, virtual manufacturing and mechanism synthesis
  • Optimization
  • Fundamentals of engineering design including design ideation and concept generation.


Full text copies of Vance’s publications can be found here: http://works.bepress.com/judy_vance/


  • Berg, L. P., Vance, J. M. “Industry use of virtual reality in product design and manufacturing: a survey”, Virtual Reality, 2017, 21:1-17, doi: 10.1077/s10055-016-0293-9.
  • Berg, L. P., Vance, J. M. “An Industry Case Study: Investigating Early Design Decision-Making in Virtual Reality”, ASME Journal of Computing and Information Science in Engineering, 2017, 17(1):011001-011001-7. doi:10.1115/1.4034267.
  • Carlson, P., Vance, J. M., Berg, M., “An Evaluation of Asymmetric Interfaces for Bimanual Virtual Assembly with Haptics”, Virtual Reality, 2016, 20: 193-201, DOI 10.1007/s10055-016-0290-z.
  • Pavlik, R. A., Vance, J. M. “Interacting with Grasped Objects in Expanded Haptic Workspaces using the Bubble Technique”, ASME Journal of Computing and Information Science in Engineering, 2015, 15(4), doi: 10.1115/1.4031826.
  • Carlson, P., Peters, A., Gilbert, S. P., Vance, J. M., Luse, A., “Virtual Training: Learning Transfer of Assembly Tasks”, IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, 21(6), June 2015, pp. 770-782; doi: 10.1109/TVCG.2015.2393871.
  • Berg, L. P., Behdad, S., Vance, J. M., Thurston, D. “Disassembly Sequence Evaluation: A User Study Leveraging Immersive Computing Technologies”, ASME Journal of Computing and Information Science in Engineering, 15(1), 011002 (Mar 01, 2015) (7 pages)Paper No: JCISE-14-1112; doi: 10.1115/1.4028857.
  • Behdad, S., Berg, L., Thurston D., Vance, J. M., “Immersive Computing Technology to Investigate Tradeoffs under Uncertainty in Disassembly Sequence Planning”, ASME Journal of Mechanical Design, 136(7), 2014, doi: 10.1115/1.4025021.
  • Behdad, S., Berg, L., Thurston D., Vance, J. M., “Leveraging Virtual Reality Experiences with Mixed-Integer Nonlinear Programming Visualization for Disassembly Sequence Planning Under Uncertainty”, ASME Journal of Mechanical Design, 136 (4), 2014, doi:10.1115/1.4026463.
  • Perret, J., Kneschke, C., Vance, J. M., and Dumont, G. “Interactive Assembly Simulation with Haptic Feedback”, Assembly Automation, 33 (3), 2013.
  • Fu, K., Reid, T., Terpenny, J. P., Thurston, D. L., Vance, J. M., Finger, S., Wiens, G. J., Kazerounian, K., Allen, J. K., Jacobson, K., 2013, “Broadening Participation: A Report on a Series of Workshops Aimed at Building Community and Increasing the Number of Women and Minorities in Engineering Design,” ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, June 23-26, 2013, Atlanta, GA, #6781.
  • Rosenberg, M., Vance, J. M., 2013,”Virtual Hand Representations to Support Natural Interaction in Immersive Environments,” ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conferences, August 4-7, Portland, OR, DETC2013-13166.
  • Pavlik, R. A., Vance, J. M., Luecke, G. R., “Interacting with a Large Virtual Environment by Combining a Ground-based Haptic Device and a Mobile Robot Base,” ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conferences, August 4-7, Portland, OR, DETC2013-13441.
  • Dorozhkin, D. V., Vance, J. M., Rehn, G. D., Lemessi, M., “Coupling of interactive manufacturing operations simulation and immersive virtual reality”, Virtual Reality, 16(1), 2011, pp. 15-23, DOI: 10.1007/s10055-010-0165-7