Brendan O'Toole

Chair and Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering
Director, Center for Materials and Structures
Co-Director, Center for Math, Science and Engineering Education
Expertise: Composites, Manufacturing, Mechanical testing, Mechanics, Stress analysis, Vehicle design


Brendan O’Toole is a UNLV College of Engineering professor who specializes in composites, manufacturing, mechanical testing, and design.

He has led student projects including Hailey's Hand, through which undergraduates and graduate students built a series of 3D-printed prosthetic robotic hands for a local child; the performance of quality control tests on components of NASA’s Orion deep-space capsule, which is designed to travel on the Artemis missions to the moon and, eventually, to Mars; and a challenge to build the world's largest flying disc. He was also instrumental in a UNLV partnership with the Desert Research Institute, the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) and Tesla on a summer boot camp aimed at coaching Nevada teachers to become more confident in coaching robotics programs.

O'Toole is the faculty advisor to the student section of the Society of Automotive Engineers and has mentored many American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and Society for Automotive Engineering (SAE) student design competition teams. He also serves as the program manager of the Soldier’s Objective Future Force Electronics Reliability and Survivability (SOldier FERST), a program dedicated to protecting military personnel by improving vehicle designs that can withstand roadside blasts.

Prior to joining UNLV, O'Toole was a research assistant at the University of Delaware, researching new materials and processes for making curved beams in aircraft structures. O'Toole's research interests have focused on a broad range of experimental material characterization and computational simulation of advanced materials subject to extreme loading conditions.


  • Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, University of Delaware
  • M.S., Mechanical Engineering, University of Delaware
  • B.S., Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of Delaware

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Brendan O'Toole In The News

October 24, 2019
For centuries, man has looked into the sky at the red planet and could only wonder at the possibility.
April 16, 2019
The Robotics Academy of Nevada - a new statewide professional development program funded by Tesla's K-12 Education Investment Fund - is being developed by the Desert Research Institute, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the University of Nevada, Reno. Facilitated by DRI's Pre-K-12 STEM education and outreach program, Science Alive, the new academy will launch this summer in partnership with the Colleges of Engineering at Nevada's research universities in Reno and Las Vegas.
June 26, 2018
Free food tugs at the psyche of just about every college student.
April 13, 2018
The San Francisco Giants added a special pitcher to their roster for the day. It was small -- yet fierce -- Hailey Dawson, who has a 3D-printed hand.

Articles Featuring Brendan O'Toole

Two women stand in front of an image of a Martian rover
Research | May 19, 2020
Pair of geoscience professors at the forefront of UNLV’s contributions to Mars exploration, but plenty more academics are involved in the Red Planet.
A UNLV student wearing goggles, and one wearing a hat and glasses, stare at materials in a vice.
Research | September 25, 2019
On-campus lab testing materials for NASA Artemis Program’s Orion spacecraft.
UNLV instructor at computer talking to two students
Business and Community | May 23, 2019
UNLV teaming with DRI, UNR to offer K-12 teacher trainings this summer; training at UNLV scheduled for May 28-June 1.
Brenden O'Toole and Mohamed Trabia
People | October 9, 2018
Brenden O'Toole, Mohamed Trabia, and Bernard Malamud all received valuable mentoring as students, and now try to repay it with younger generations.