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Hi I'm Matt Allen

I work on hypersonic airplanes, teach about vibration, I'm a mechanical engineer, a teacher, a father, and I'm a Mormon.

About Me

I grew up in California, went to normal public schools, and to be honest I didn't really apply myself in high school (except in calculus - I had a great AP calc teacher!). As a kid I was absolutely terrified of speaking in front of people. So I still can't quite figure out how I ended up teaching engineering at one of the top schools in the Big 10. As a kid I always loved taking apart old appliances, programming on our little IBM computer and every kind of building toy, so I guess the job is a natural fit for me. Actually, I love my job - the thrill of trying to solve problems that nobody has ever solved, learning new things and working with some extremely talented students and seeing the great things that they do. When I'm not working I'm home with my wife and two kids. I was lucky to marry a great woman when I was in my early (ok very early!) 20's and we have a great family. She's followed me all over the country for school, internships, jobs and now my Associate Professor position in Wisconsin. We try to spend as much time as we can together playing games, eating my wife's gourmet cooking (and doing our part to clean up after those great meals!), gardening, walking the dog and basically living the American dream. In those rare moments when I get some free time I love downhill skiing, golfing, mountain biking and tennis in that order.

Why I am a Mormon

I think that many people wonder how someone as scientifically minded as me can believe in God in these days of Darwin's theories, decoding genes, when we can understand and model the atoms that make up everything (I even teach a class about this...). Most of the people that I work with don't believe in God and probably couldn't understand my beliefs. But to me I think that believing in God is just as natural as believing in science. For example, when a student comes to my class they really begin by faith. I tell them that in order to understand structural dynamics, they'll first have to invest some time in learning to manipulate complex numbers and some linear algebra. At first they can't imagine how that could relate but most of them trust me. A few weeks later everything comes together and their faith is rewarded as the knowledge that they gain allows them to understand vibration at a different level. For me, believing in God is similar. We all begin by faith, hoping that there is a God and taking some steps to follow him, perhaps because of the example of a friend or teacher that we trust. As we begin to follow God, we see how His plan is better for us that any alternative and we feel His influence and begin to know that He really is that and that His love is a real influence in our lives. At some point we can say that we know that God lives, or that He loves us, or that He has called Prophets to guide us in these days. I don't think that there will ever be overwhelming evidence that God exists - I mean in the way that we now understand the law of Gravity or Newton's laws. If there was, then we would have to be crazy to deny it and that would take away our freedom in a way. With God we have to want to believe first and we may have to follow Him for much more than a few hours a week for one semester (as my students do in class) before we really can say that we know that He is real. But when the evidence does finally come, it is all worth it!

How I live my faith

I try each day to remember that we are all here for a reason and to fulfill the work that Heavenly Father has given me. I've had many opportunities to serve in my local congregations and have learned a lot from that service. I served two years as a missionary for the LDS church in Guatemala. That was such an inspiring and eye opening and fun experience. But even after two years of teaching people about Christ and their Father's plan for them, I still hadn't learned to overcome my fear of public speaking. I returned from my mission and while I was finishing school one day the leader of my congregation asked me to be one of the teachers for the second hour of our Sunday meetings. This was terrifying for me, especially since our congregation was all single men and women, people who I would have liked to impress, not embarrass myself in front of! But, I felt that the calling was an assignment from God so I accepted it, prepared my first lesson and got up with shaking knees to teach the class. My first class was honestly a disaster, but luckily only eight or so people showed up and they were very kind and supportive. Eventually I was able to get over my fear and was surprised to see that I liked teaching. The years passed and I liked school so I kept at it until I ended up getting a PhD in Mechanical Engineering. When I could no longer put off deciding about what job to go after, I even surprised myself when I felt that I wanted to teach at a University. As I put together my resume about the only teaching experience I could claim were those years teaching Sunday school. I never even would have considered this line of work had it not been for the experience I got serving in church.