Steven P. Nichols serves as Associate Vice President for Research at The University of Texas at Austin and as the Director of the Clint Murchison Chair of Free Enterprise in the College of Engineering. He is a professional engineer and licensed attorney.
After earning his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, Nichols joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering in 1976 as an assistant professor. In 1978 he formed an engineering consulting firm, and from 1978 until 1985, Nichols gained broad industrial experience in consulting for industrial concerns and other organizations such as Florida Power and Light, Smith Industries, Plastics Manufacturing Company, Iowa Power and Light, Electric Power Research Institute, and the U.S. Department of Energy. He earned his law degree in 1983 and has been involved in litigation involving product liability and intellectual property. Nichols rejoined the Department of Mechanical Engineering in September of 1985 where his research interests include topics in technology entrepreneurship, engineering design and manufacturing, internal combustion engines, and professional responsibility.
At the University, Nichols coordinated an interdisciplinary, collaborative design experience among students and faculty in Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He also organized an interdisciplinary capstone design experience between the Departments of Chemical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering and a cross-disciplinary course in entrepreneurship in cooperation with the College of Natural Sciences, the McCombs School of Business, the School of Law, and IC2. In addition, Nichols has served as the director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Resources (formerly the Center for Energy Studies) and as acting director of the Center for Electromechanics.