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2017 SME Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineers

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These 17 Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineers, age 35 or younger, are being recognized for their exceptional contributions and accomplishments in the manufacturing industry. Each year, the award is named in honor of a specific individual who has made lifelong contributions to manufacturing and SME. The 2017 award is named after Yoram Koren, DSc, HSME, FSME, James J. Duderstadt Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Manufacturing, Paul G. Goebel Professor Emeritus of Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Rohit BhapkarRohit Bhapkar
Research Specialist
Innovation and Technology Development Division
Caterpillar Inc.
Mossville, Illinois

Bhapkar is currently working as a research specialist with the Innovation and Technology Development Division at Caterpillar’s Global Research and Development headquarters. He has been recognized with multiple awards for successfully managing global cross-functional teams that commercialized R&D in the areas of metal cutting, grinding, manufacturing data analytics and process simulations. After his bachelor’s degree in production engineering from College of Engineering Pune, Bhapkar worked with Sandvik Coromant INDIA as a productivity improvement engineer. Subsequently, he received his master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His research focus was design optimization and precision manufacturing of biomedical devices under the guidance of Professor Albert Shih. Bhapkar currently has 11 patent applications with several internal technical publications and trade secrets in his name. He was chair-elect of SME’s Greater Peoria Area Chapter 31 in 2013 and has been involved in various mentoring and STEM promotion activities. SME Member Since 2015  

Debejyo ChakrabortyDebejyo Chakraborty, PhD
Senior Researcher in Manufacturing Systems Research Laboratory
General Motors Global Research and Development
Warren, Michigan

Chakraborty is a senior researcher in Manufacturing Systems Research Laboratory at General Motors Global Research and Development. He is responsible for developing signal processing and machine learning algorithms for applications in the field of manufacturing, some of which enabled products like Chevy Volt and Cadillac ELR. Chakraborty was awarded the 2011 General Motors Boss Kettering Award for outstanding technical innovation in battery manufacturing. He has multiple patents and technical publications. Chakraborty received his master’s degree and doctorate in electrical engineering from Arizona State University in 2010. SME Member Since 2016

Neil DasguptaNeil Dasgupta, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Mechanical Engineering
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Dasgupta is an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan. He earned his doctorate from Stanford University in 2011. Prior to joining the University of Michigan in 2014, Dasgupta was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the recipient of an AFOSR Young Investigator Award, the AVS Paul H. Holloway Young Investigator Award, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Pi Tau Sigma Gold Metal and a U.S. Department of Energy EERE Postdoctoral Research Award. His research focuses on the intersection of nanotechnology, energy conversion and manufacturing. Specifically, Dasgupta’s goal is to develop scalable, low-cost techniques for the manufacturing and assembly of nanostructures to address complex, energy-related environmental challenges. Example applications include solar photovoltaics, artificial photosynthesis, catalysts and batteries.

Alaa ElwanyAlaa Elwany, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering
Texas A&M University
College Station, Texas

Elwany is an assistant professor at the Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering at Texas A&M University. He acquired a doctorate in industrial and systems engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2009, and a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in production engineering from Alexandria University, Egypt, in 2002 and 2004, respectively. Prior to joining Texas A&M, Elwany worked as a research scientist at the Manufacturing Systems Research laboratory (General Motors R&D) and was a faculty member for the Eindhoven University of Technology, the Netherlands. His research interests are in the modeling, analysis, and control of advanced manufacturing processes and manufacturing systems, with particular emphasis on additive manufacturing and reliability engineering. His research has been funded by leading organizations including NASA, Airforce Office of Scientific Research, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Netherlands Institute for Scientific Research and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. SME Member Since 2016

Wentao Fu

Wentao Fu, PhD
Additive Manufacturing Engineer
Siemens Energy Inc.
Orlando, Florida

Fu is an additive manufacturing engineer at Siemens Energy Inc. He works with internal and external resources to identify, define and execute research projects that aim to enable the full additive manufacturing potential in the early design phase of industrial gas turbines. Prior to that, Fu was a manufacturing/structure optimization engineer at Caterpillar, where he brought digital manufacturing, design optimization and should-cost modeling to successful applications in multiple Caterpillar products. Fu obtained his doctorate in manufacturing and design from The University of Texas at Austin in 2014, and his academic achievements in digital manufacturing and design have served as the foundation of the digital design and manufacturing value chain that he has been promoting in manufacturing industries. Fu’s research focuses on digital manufacturing and design, computer-aided design and manufacturing, additive manufacturing, design for manufacturing, design automation and optimization, and data-driven analytics. SME Member Since 2016

Brian GibsonBrian T. Gibson, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Gibson is a postdoctoral research associate in the Materials Processing and Joining Group, which resides in the Materials Science and Technology Division of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Prior to joining ORNL, he studied as a Tennessee Space Grant fellow in the Vanderbilt University Welding Automation Laboratory, which is a recognized leader in the development of advanced automation and control technologies for welding. His research is focused on developing innovative solutions to technical challenges at the intersection of robotics and materials processing, with specific research interests that include solid-state joining, additive manufacturing, in-process quality monitoring, robotic force control and signal processing. Gibson has authored or coauthored over 20 refereed publications on these subjects. He holds a doctorate (2015) and master’s degree (2011) in mechanical engineering from Vanderbilt University and a bachelor’s degree (2009) in mechanical engineering from the West Virginia University Institute of Technology.

Helga HammHelga Hamm
Production Section Manager
Caterpillar Energy Solutions
Mannheim, Germany

Hamm is a production section manager at Caterpillar Energy Solutions at Mannheim, Germany. She is responsible for implementing Caterpillar Production System and lean manufacturing in engine assembly, and successfully leads her team through significant changes. Hamm’s professional career began at Mercedes-Benz Cars Division, Daimler Group, where she developed a method for economic evaluation of innovation at the front end of MBC’s product development process. Hamm joined Caterpillar in 2014 as manufacturing engineer where she led her first lean manufacturing projects. In May 2015, Hamm took over as manager of two engine production lines. In this role, she is responsible for reengineering of manufacturing processes, including tools, techniques and process control techniques and their implementation in the area of responsibility. Her work results in a safer work environment, improved product quality and significant cost reduction. Hamm received her diploma in business administration and engineering from the University of Kaiserslautern, Germany.

Tao Jia

Tao Jia, PhD
Advanced Manufacturing Engineer
Advanced Manufacturing Engineering Center
GE Healthcare
Waukesha, Wisconsin
Jia is an advanced manufacturing engineer in the Advanced Manufacturing Engineering Technology Center at General Electric Healthcare. Her responsibilities include leading digital manufacturing effort to reduce manufacturing cost and applying data analysis to improve manufacturing process. Jia received her master’s degree in computer science and doctorate in mechanical engineering from Michigan State University. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Her research interests are computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) related to direct digital manufacturing and additive manufacturing. Jia has done seminal work on enabling design for manufacturing via integration of digital thread, driving cost reduction and time-to-market. She is also working on promoting model-based definition to manufacturing process, enabling integration of product and manufacturing information in to CAD models. Jia is actively involved in GE women’s network to promote women’s presence in manufacturing field and to foster girls’ interest in STEM. SME Member Since 2016

Rajiv MalhotraRajiv Malhotra, PhD
Assistant Professor
School of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
Oregon State University
Corvallis, Oregon

Malhotra is an assistant professor in the School of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at Oregon State University. He received his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Northwestern University in 2012 and completed his postdoc there as well. His research aims to understand process-material interactions in manufacturing processes via multiphysical computational modeling and experiments. Currently, Malhotra is investigating interactions between electromagnetic fields, heat transfer and mass transfer in rapid field-assisted nanoparticle sintering. Applications include scalable additive approaches for roll-to-roll manufacturing, surface and bulk integration of functional nano-enabled devices. On the macro-scale, he is interested in understanding the failure mechanisms in die-less, heat-less incremental forming and solid-state joining of thermoplastics and metal-polymer laminates. Malhotra has chaired several symposia at ASME conferences and has been the guest editor for multiple special issues in ASME journals. His work has been published in over 35 journal and conference proceedings and resulted in two patents.

Guha ManogharanGuha Prasanna Manogharan, PhD
Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Penn State University
University Park, Pennsylvania

Manogharan is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Penn State University. Manogharan completed his doctoral studies at North Carolina State University. He is an entrepreneur in residence for additive manufacturing at the Youngstown Business Incubator. His research interests in additive and hybrid manufacturing include: Design rules for CAD-CAM, material development, process modeling, CNC machining and interdisciplinary biomedical, mechanical and aerospace applications. Manogharan is an active member of ASME, IISE and SME and was named the 2016 Outstanding Young Investigator by the IISE-Manufacturing and Design Division. He holds a doctorate and a master’s degree in industrial and systems engineering from North Carolina State University and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from SASTRA University, India. SME Member Since 2015

Yayue PanYayue Pan, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
University of Illinois at Chicago

Pan is an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She received her doctorate degree in industrial and systems engineering from the University of Southern California in 2014, master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Zhejiang University in 2010 and a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Zhejiang University of Technology in 2007. Her research is focused on novel additive manufacturing processes and their applications in energy and biomedical fields. Pan’s current work at UIC investigates multimaterial and multifunctional additive manufacturing processes, new material feeding approaches in stereolithography for superfast 3D printing of structures with wide, solid cross-sections and rapid prototyping of phase change materials for thermal energy storage applications. She received several awards including the NAMRI/SME Outstanding Paper Award and the ASME Best Paper Award. SME Member Since 2017

Vikas PatelVikas Patel, PhD
Research Engineer in the Global Research and Development Department

Patel is currently a research engineer in the Global Research and Development Department of ArcelorMittal. He received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Veer Narmad South Gujarat University in 2007; master’s degree in industrial technology from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 2009; and doctorate in mechanical engineering with specialization in material science/welding from Ryerson University in 2014. His research interests are in the field of welding and joining processes, welding metallurgy, materials characterization and additive manufacturing of metals. Patel’s doctorate thesis topic was “Ultrasonic Spot Welding of Lightweight Alloys.” During his doctorate study, he has published 16 refereed publications including 13 journal papers and three conference papers. Recently, Patel has submitted two patent applications regarding welding of high-carbon, third-gen, advance high-strength steel. His research work has been cited 287 times by other sources. Patel has received a Distinction Award in the bachelor’s program and Highest Standard of Academic Achievement Award in the master’s program. Patel has also been nominated for the prestigious Governor General Gold Medal Award by the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering of Ryerson University. During his doctoral study, he has received a number of scholarships and awards. After finishing his doctorate study, Patel has continue worked with Ryerson University as a postdoctoral fellow for four months. After joining, ArcelorMittal Global R&D, Patel has established state-of-the-art welding research lab in the Global R&D of ArcelorMittal. Patel was awarded with Research Technical Innovation Award in 2015 from ArcelorMittal Global R&D in his very first year of his employment. Along with research, Patel is voluntarily working as a reviewer for several international journals and has reviewed more than 50 journal papers. In 2015, Patel received the Outstanding Reviewer Award from the “Materials and Design Journal.” SME Member Since 2016

Prahalad RaoPrahalada Rao, PhD
Assistant Professor
Mechanical and Materials Engineering Department 
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, Nebraska 

Rao’s research focuses on sensor-based monitoring and diagnosis of complex biophysical and manufacturing processes (e.g., additive manufacturing, ultraprecision machining, semiconductor planarization and neurophysiology). He was recently (2015) awarded an NSF grant (CMMI 1538059) for applying graph theoretic techniques toward monitoring of neurophysiological anomalies. Prior to joining the Mechanical and Materials Engineering Department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Rao held the position of assistant professor (2014-16), System Science and Industrial Engineering, Binghamton University. From 2013-14, he was a postdoctoral research associate at Virginia Tech. Rao received his bachelor's degree (first class) in production engineering from Victoria Jubilee Technical Institute, Bombay University, India, in 2003; and a master's degree and doctorate in industrial engineering from Oklahoma State University in 2006 and 2013, respectively. Rao's doctorate was completed under the aegis of Professor Satish Bukkapatnam and the late Professor Komanduri. He is a member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers, American Society for Quality and the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences. Rao was awarded the Alpha Pi Mu Outstanding Research Assistant Award by OSU in 2008. He was a finalist for two awards offered by the IIE, namely, Manufacturing and Design Division Young Investigator Award (2016), and the John L. Imhoff (2011) graduate fellowship. Rao's doctorate dissertation was nominated for the university-wide best dissertation award (2013) and the IIE Pritsker Dissertation Prize (2014) by the industrial engineering department at OSU.

Stefanie RobinsonStefanie Robinson, PhD
Associate Director
Lab for Manufacturing and Sustainability
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, California

Stefanie Robinson is the associate director of the Lab for Manufacturing and Sustainability at the University of California, Berkeley. In her work, she designs and implements strategic, practical and cost-effective solutions to increase productivity and sustainability in organizations. While at LMAS, Robinson has worked on a variety of projects in sustainable manufacturing, with organizations such as Autodesk, Caterpillar and the Air Force Research Laboratory. In her time at Caterpillar, she led manufacturing process research projects for fabricated structures for Caterpillar’s Track Type Tractors. Robinson completed her doctorate and master's degree in mechanical engineering with a concentration in manufacturing operations and sustainability from the University of California, Berkeley, and her bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park. Robinson’s professional career began at Infineum where she developed and commercialized petroleum additive packages for engine oils and automatic transmission fluids. Robinson is passionate about working in her community and leading programs to encourage youth to study math and science through K-12 STEM awareness.

Ashish SinghAshish Kumar Singh, PhD
Metallurgical Engineer
Welspun Pipes Inc.
Little Rock, Arkansas

Singh has received his master’s and doctorate degrees in mechanical and aerospace engineering at Oklahoma State University in 2014. He has also completed his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from College of Engineering, Osmania University. His research focus during graduate studies was processing and characterization of iron-based bulk amorphous alloys. Singh has worked on advanced materials processing like spark plasma sintering and laser processing of amorphous and nanocrystalline metals, alloys and ceramics. Currently, he is working as metallurgical engineering at Welspun Pipes Inc. leading efforts in the development of high-strength, high-toughness, low-alloys API grade-line pipe steel using submerged arc welding (SAW) and electric resistance welding (ERW) welding techniques. Singh is also a member of various technical committees for the American Welding Society. He has co-authored around 15 articles, presented his research work in multiple international conferences and is a reviewer of many journals.

Bruce TaiBruce L. Tai, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Texas A&M University
College Station, Texas

Tai is an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University. He received his doctorate in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan in 2011, and both a master’s and bachelor’s degrees from the National Taiwan University. Before joining Texas A&M in 2015, Tai was a research faculty in mechanical engineering of the University of Michigan. His research interests broadly include additive manufacturing, nontraditional machining, material removal mechanics, and surgical tool design and analysis. He has long-term collaborations with the automotive industry and medical doctors. Tai has produced over 30 peer-reviewed journal papers and over 30 conference publications. Over half of these publications result from multidisciplinary collaborations with surgeons, medical educators and industrial researchers. Among his research achievements are two best paper awards in ASME Manufacturing Science and Engineering Conference in 2012 and 2013, respectively. SME Member Since 2016

Tao WangTao Wang, PhD
Lead Metallurgical Engineer and Research Lab Supervisor
Nucor Steel
Manila, Arkansas

Wang is currently the lead metallurgical engineer and research lab supervisor at Nucor Steel. He is the lead engineer in process and product research and development areas. Wang's current focus is to develop and modify a novel thin-strip casting technology, which uses up to 90 percent less energy to process liquid steel into hot-rolled steel sheets than conventional casting methods. Wang has rich experience in metallurgical thermodynamics, thermal energy storage and transfer, steelmaking, metal solidification and casting, and metal corrosion. He obtained his doctorate and master’s degree from the University of Alabama; and he received his bachelor’s degree from Xi'an Jiao Tong University in China. In his areas of research, Wang has published over 20 papers and patents that led to breakthroughs in thermodynamic modeling, high-efficiency thermal energy transfer medium development and thin-strip metal-casting technology. Wang is the 2013 and 2017 LMD Best Energy Paper Award winner in TMS and is the 2016 TMS Young Leader Award winner. Also, he was selected to become a member of emerging leader alliance in 2015. Wang serves the technical committees including Energy committee, Pyrometallurgy committee in TMS; and Metallurgy-Steelmaking & Casting Technology Committee, Continuous Casting Technology Committee, Southeast Chapter in AIST. SME Member Since 2016