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2023 Delcie Durham Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineers

These 18 Delcie Durham 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 2023 award namesake is longtime SME member Delcie R. Durham, PhD, FSME, PE, a professor emerita in the University of South Florida's Department of Mechanical Engineering. Durham’s research has focused on environmentally benign design and manufacturing, with a particular emphasis on sustainable product realization through the total product lifecycle.

Lili Cai, PhD
Assistant Professor, Mechanical Science and Engineering
University of Illinois-Champaign
Urbana, Illinois

Lili Cai is an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She obtained her master’s degree and doctorate in mechanical engineering from Stanford University with the Stanford Graduate Engineering Fellowship. Prior to joining the University of Illinois in 2019, she conducted postdoctoral training in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Stanford University. Cai’s research is focused on bridging thermal science, nanotechnology and material manufacturing to advance energy and wearable applications. She has published ~38 peer-reviewed journal papers with more than 6,000 citations and an H-index of 26. Cai’s recent awards include MIT Technology Review’s 35 Under 35 list in 2020, the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund Doctoral New Investigator Award in 2022, the National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2022 and the 2023 SME Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award. SME Member Since 2022

Murali Mohan Cheepu, PhD
Research Manager
Super TIG Welding C. Ltd.
Busan, Republic of Korea

Murali Mohan Cheepu is a research manager at STARWELDS Inc. He has over 10 years of experience in the manufacturing and research industries. Welding and joining, additive manufacturing, automation, digitalization and artificial intelligence are among the topics of his research. Furthermore, Cheepu is conducting research on a novel method of “Super-TIG Welding” to improve productivity. He has received several honors, including best researcher from KWJS, trusted reviewer from the Institute of Physics in the UK and best paper from materials and welding conferences. Cheepu is a member of the editorial board, a reviewer, the conference chair and conference technical committee. He has published patents and over 100 peer-reviewed articles including conference papers and welding research supplements in the American Welding Society. Cheepu graduated with honors from NIT Tiruchirappalli with a master's degree in welding engineering and Kyungsung University with a doctorate in mechatronics engineering. SME Member Since 2023

David Coleman
Senior Applications Engineer
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics
Fort Worth, Texas

David Coleman is a staff applications engineer at Lockheed Martin – Aeronautics, working specifically within the Manufacturing Technology Organization. During his time at Lockheed Martin, Coleman has established himself as an industrial laser processing subject-matter expert. His educational background includes a master’s degree in manufacturing systems management from Southern Methodist University and a bachelor’s degree in manufacturing engineering from Texas State University. SME Member Since 2010

Karthik Gopinath
Senior Research Engineer
Caterpillar Inc.
San Antonio

Karthik Gopinath is a machining research engineer working for the Manufacturing Technology and Solutions Division at Caterpillar. He also worked as a manufacturing process engineer at CAT for six years where his focus was on providing poka yoke solutions to longstanding machining issues caused by operator error. Apart from providing solutions to CNC machining issues across Caterpillar, Gopinath has worked as the lead machining and industrial engineer for several key capital projects across the company. His current role is focused on machining research, NC programming and developing training for machining engineers at CAT. Gopinath received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Osmania University in 2009 and a master’s degree in industrial engineering from Texas Tech University in 2012. SME Member Since 2023

Farbod Khameneifar, PhD, P.Eng.
Associate Professor
Polytechnique Montreal

Farbod Khameneifar is an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Polytechnique Montreal. He obtained his doctorate in mechanical engineering from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Khameneifar’s research focuses on 3D metrology and computer-aided design, manufacturing and inspection (CAD/CAM/CAI). Khameneifar is the founder and director of the Digital Manufacturing and Metrology Research Laboratory at Polytechnique Montreal. His research lab develops, validates and implements advanced CAD/CAM/CAI technologies and software tools for metrology-enabled automated closed-loop precision manufacturing and repair of high-value components. Khameneifar’s research contributions have resulted in impactful technology transfers to major end-users in the manufacturing industry. His outstanding leadership is recognized by the precision manufacturing and metrology community at the international level. Khameneifar is currently the chair of the Manufacturing Technical Committee, a member of the board of directors of the Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering and an associate editor of Transactions of the Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering. SME Member Since 2021

Yong Lin Kong, PhD
Assistant Professor
University of Utah
Salt Lake City

Yong Lin Kong is an assistant professor at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Utah. Kong received his doctorate from Princeton University in 2016 and was a postdoctoral associate at MIT. Lin's research focuses on the additive manufacturing of nanomaterial-based functional devices and biomedical devices. He has been awarded patents in “3D printed active electronic materials and devices”; “3D printed multi-functional hybrid devices and structures”; and invented “gastric resident electronics.” Kong is a recipient of the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Program Award; NIH Trailblazer Award; DOD CDMRP Discovery Award; 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award; SPIE Rising Researcher Award; ORAU Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award; TMS Young Leaders Professional Development Award; and the MIT Technology Review Innovators Under 35 Asia Award. SME Member Since 2020

Cindy “Xiangjia” Li, PhD
Assistant Professor
Arizona State University
Tempe, Arizona

Cindy Li is an assistant professor in the department of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy at Arizona State University. Her current research is focused on novel additive manufacturing process development, aiming to solve the current design and manufacturing challenges of bioinspired structures and materials. Li has worked on photopolymerization-based additive manufacturing processes with bioinspired design methodologies and programmable functional materials for potential applications in interfacial technology, biomedical engineering, soft actuator, optics, energy harvesting and flexible sensor. She invented several novel additive manufacturing approaches for multiscale and multimaterial fabrication of bioinspired structures and materials. Li has been awarded a couple of U.S. patents for the novelty and innovation of AM process development, and her research works have been featured in various media outlets. SME Member Since 2018

Jon-Erik Mogonye, PhD
Research Materials Engineer
DEVCOM U.S. Army Research Laboratory
Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland

Jon-Erik Mogonye is a materials research engineer at the DEVCOM Army Research Laboratory. He joined the ARL Vehicle Technology Directorate as a postdoctoral fellow in 2016 after completing his doctorate at the University of North Texas and as a researcher in 2018. Within ARL, Mogonye leads the Advanced Lightweight Materials research team of the Versatile Tactical Power and Propulsion Essential Research Program. This lab/academic/industrial collaboration group is focused on multidisciplinary materials and manufacturing methods to enable next-generation Army propulsion. Specializing in tribology and metallurgy, he researches multiscale deformation mechanics and process-structure-performance relationships through in-situ and ex-situ characterization. Mogonye’s previous research roles involved surface chemical reactions/tribology of harsh lubrication in ARL and ion-beam/composite modification and aging performance of electrical contacts at Sandia National Labs. SME Member Since 2023

Hantang Qin
Assistant Professor
Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, Wisconsin

Hantang Qin is an assistant professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He worked at Iowa State University for five years before joining UW-Madison. Qin received his doctorate in industrial engineering at North Carolina State University in 2016. Qin’s expertise covers in-space manufacturing, electrohydrodynamics, micro/nano 3D printing, advanced manufacturing for flexible electronics, biomedical applications, system design, control and optimization. He has been working on engineering education via virtual reality pedagogy to train next-generation engineers. Qin has several U.S. patents and over 30 journal articles, and has been sponsored by various agencies, such as NASA, NSF, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Energy, the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and industrial collaborators. SME Member Since 2018

Wesley Salandro, PhD
Director ‒ Composites Production
Hawthorne, California

Wesley Salandro received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Pennsylvania State University (2009) and a doctorate in automotive engineering from Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (2012). Salandro has authored over 15 technical publications on electrically assisted manufacturing process modeling, experimentation and design. He spent five years in the BMW Group, in Spartanburg, South Carolina; Germany; and the U.K. Salandro was involved in several new model vehicle launches and ultimately led several assembly areas. After BMW, he took on a two-year leadership position at the Silicon Valley electric vehicle startup, Lucid Motors. Salandro then transitioned into aerospace with Vector Launch Inc. as the director of manufacturing. He has been with SpaceX since 2019 and is currently the director of composites production, leading the teams laminating, assembling, integrating and testing key composite assemblies used throughout the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule. SME Member Since 2022

William Scheideler, PhD
Assistant Professor of Engineering
Dartmouth College
Hanover, New Hampshire

William Scheideler graduated summa cum laude from Duke University in 2013 with bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering and biomedical engineering. He completed his doctorate as an NSF Graduate Research Fellow in electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California, Berkeley, where his doctoral thesis explored scalable nanomanufacturing of metal oxide electronics. Scheideler completed his postdoctoral studies in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Stanford University, where he studied scalable fabrication and thermomechanical reliability of perovskite solar cells. Scheideler joined Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering as an assistant professor in 2019, launching the Scalable Energy and Nanomaterial Electronics Laboratory. His recent advances in fabrication of 2D-metal oxides for electronics and energy applications, high-frequency stretchable sensors and 3D-printed electrodes have led to numerous papers published in top scientific journals (Advanced Functional Materials, Advanced Materials Technologies and so on) and multiple U.S. patent applications. SME Member Since 2023

Jacob L. "Jake" Smith, PhD
Product Design Engineer
Apple Inc.
Austin, Texas

Jake Smith earned his doctorate from Northwestern University’s Mechanical Engineering program in 2016. He joined Apple Inc. that same year as part of its materials engineering team. Since joining Apple, Smith has played a pivotal role in bridging simulation groups and design teams across multiple organizations. In his role as a simulation and modeling expert, Smith has developed multiple novel techniques to enhance and design products including the iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad and Mac/MacBook. SME Member Since 2023

Kenan Song, PhD
Assistant Professor
Arizona State University
Mesa, Arizona

Kenan Song is currently an assistant professor position at Arizona State University. Before joining ASU in 2017, he was a postdoc affiliated with the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and the Department of Chemical Engineering at MIT. Song obtained his postdoctoral degree in mechanical engineering from Northeastern University in 2014 and his bachelor’s degree in engineering mechanics in 2010. Song’s research interest includes the processing-structure-property relationships, especially the manufacturing, characterization, simulation and application of polymer/filled composites. Song’s research is funded by the National Science Foundation, Department of Defense AFOSR and ONR, Binational Science Foundation, Qatar National Research Fund, American Chemistry Society Petroleum Research Fund, Department of Health Services, philanthropic foundations and industrial partners. In addition, he has been the recipient of the NSF CAREER Award (2022); the ACS PMSE Young Investigator Award (2022); the SAMPE North America Young Professionals Emerging Leadership Award (2022); the DHS New Investigator Award (NIA); and a few others. SME Member Since 2010

Hongyue Sun, PhD
Assistant Professor
State University of New York at Buffalo
Buffalo, New York

Hongyue Sun is an assistant professor at the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, University at Buffalo. He received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Beijing Institute of Technology, a master’s degree in statistics and a doctorate in industrial engineering from Virginia Tech, respectively. Sun’s research interests are data analytics for advanced manufacturing, occupational safety and healthcare systems. His research has been recognized by a broad of research communities in quality control and reliability engineering, quality, statistics, reliability and data mining, including several best paper awards and finalists from the Institute for Operations Research, the Management Sciences and the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers. In 2023, Sun received the SME Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award. His research has been funded by NSF, NIOSH and industry. Sun is a member of IISE, INFORMS, IEEE and ASME. SME Member Since 2023

Sean Wagner, PhD
Senior Researcher
Manufacturing Systems Research Lab
General Motors Global Research & Development
Warren, Michigan

Sean Wagner is a senior researcher in the Manufacturing Systems Research Lab at General Motors Global Research & Development. Wagner joined General Motors R&D in 2016, where he applies his scientific background along with expertise in image processing and data analytics to develop a variety of manufacturing solutions for internal GM customers. Wagner leads research projects centered around novel techniques that are applied toward in-line and post-line quality inspection of manufactured products, as well as electromagnetic testing strategies. He received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in physics from Michigan State University. Wagner’s graduate research focused on engineering surfaces and interfaces to create functional nanomaterials and hybrid organic/inorganic solar cell devices. In 2018, he was selected as one of SME’s 30 Under 30 honorees. SME Member Since 2018

Shaomao Xu, PhD
Manufacturing Systems Research Lab
General Motors Research & Development
Warren, Michigan

Shaomao Xu is a researcher in the Manufacturing Systems Research Laboratory at General Motors Research & Development. Xu joined GM in 2020, where he uses his knowledge in electrochemistry and next-generation battery systems to provide manufacturing solutions to internal customers. He leads research projects to develop manufacturing processes and quality evaluation technologies that are crucial for the development of large-scale production of next-generation EV battery electrodes. Xu received his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and technology from the China University of Petroleum (Huadong) and master’s and doctorate degrees from Cornell University. His graduate research was focused on advanced battery chemistries and architecture design, including lithium air battery, lithium CO2 battery and solid-state battery, as well as novel synthesis technologies for nanocatalysts. Xu has published over 40 peer-reviewed journal articles, which were cited for over 6,000 times. SME Member Since 2018

Zixuan “Zoe” Zhang, PhD
Engagement Manager
McKinsey & Co.
Bellevue, Washington

Zoe Zhang is an engagement manager at McKinsey & Co. She completed her doctorate in mechanical engineering at Northwestern University in 2018 with her thesis work on incremental sheet forming, a cost and time-effective manufacturing methodology for small-batch, sheet-metal products. Zhang’s work has advanced this process with better product geometric accuracy and enhanced material properties, paving the foundation for commercialization of this innovative manufacturing process with actual automotive, aerospace and medical use cases. Following her doctorate, Zhang joined McKinsey with a focus on advanced industries. She has helped multiple iconic manufacturing companies and achieved real impact on improving product quality, addressing supply chain inefficiencies and accelerating environmental sustainability initiatives. SME Member Since 2023

Hangbo Zhao, PhD
Assistant Professor
University of Southern California
Los Angeles

Hangbo Zhao is an assistant professor in the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Southern California. He also has a joint appointment in the Alfred E. Mann Department of Biomedical Engineering at USC. His focus areas include micro/nano manufacturing, biointegrated electronics and engineered surfaces. Zhao received his master’s degree and postdoctoral in mechanical engineering at MIT and his bachelor’s degree at Tsinghua University in China. His research has been published in journals including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Advanced Materials and Nano Today. Zhao awards include the 2023 SME Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award, the ASME Haythornthwaite Foundation Young Investigator Award and the USC Charles Lee Powell Faculty Research Award. SME Member Since 2021