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Bridging the Gap Between Research and Industry

Albert Shih
By Albert Shih, PhD, FSME 2019-20 President, NAMRI/SME, SME Member Since 2002

It is a great honor to serve our manufacturing community as the president of SME’s North American Manufacturing Research Institution in 2019-20. I will start this position after SME’s 47th North American Manufacturing Research Conference (NAMRC 47) takes place June 10-14 in Erie, Pa. This annual event, co-located with ASME’s Manufacturing Science and Engineering Conference (MSEC), will be hosted by Penn State Behrend’s School of Engineering at the Bayfront Convention Center.

My goal is to be a listening president who seeks input from our research colleagues and the broader manufacturing community and then acts accordingly. I hope to build bridges to better connect NAMRI/SME, the research arm of SME, to the overall organization. For example, SME’s local chapters can join forces with professors at nearby university manufacturing labs as potential sites for their monthly meetings, offering members a firsthand glimpse into research-level manufacturing and technology advancements. NAMRI/SME can help make that connection and bridge the gap between research and industry.

Twenty-one years ago, I was a manufacturing engineer at Cummins, just starting to transition into my own academic career. In my various roles, I have witnessed industry and academia going through transformative changes in manufacturing technology and practice. Changes continue at an even faster pace, and those who adapt to those changes will survive and succeed. This is a critical time we can all utilize to learn and grow together in manufacturing technology and operations.

If you are interested in learning more about what the future holds for manufacturing, I encourage you to attend NAMRC 47 this year. Each of the six tracks offered at the conference are designed to share the latest innovations and developments in manufacturing, cyber-physical systems and materials processing:

  • Track 1: Manufacturing Systems
  • Track 2: Manufacturing Processes
  • Track 3: Material Removal
  • Track 4: Additive Manufacturing
  • Track 5: Smart Manufacturing and Cyber-Physical Systems
  • Track 6: Industrial Applications and Manufacturing Education

To move these revolutionary changes forward, over 160 technical papers were submitted this year from manufacturing practitioners and researchers from industry, academia and government institutions. These papers will be published and disseminated in “Procedia Manufacturing” after NAMRC 47 takes place; free access to these published papers are available through ScienceDirect.

Conference speakers include:

  • Shaun S. Gleason, PhD, director, Cyber and Applied Data Analytics Division, National Security Sciences Directorate, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tenn.
  • Michael F. Molnar, FSME, CMfgE, PE, 2014 SME president and director, Office of Advanced Manufacturing, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Gaithersburg, Md.
  • Susan M. Smyth, PhD, FSME, 2019 SME president-elect and retired chief scientist for GM Manufacturing and director, Manufacturing Systems Research, General Motors, Warren, Mich.
  • Alan I. Taub, PhD, professor of Materials Science & Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich., and senior technical advisor, Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT), Detroit.

Two competitions will also take place at NAMRC 47. The RAMP Competition focuses on the modeling of manufacturing processes for system-level sustainability assessment. The Blue Sky Competition, funded by the National Science Foundation, seeks visionary ideas that are often described as radical, outrageous, transformational, unconventional and convergent. Winners receive the NAMRI/SME David Dornfeld Manufacturing Vision Award.

As the beginning of my term gets closer, my colleagues recently reminded me that I will be the first faculty from the University of Michigan to serve as a NAMRI/SME president. I am a humble member of the Michigan manufacturing team, which has a rich tradition and a steadfast goal of contributing and growing NAMRI/SME with your input. In closing, I want to thank SME and its leaders for the strong and continuing support of NAMRI/SME. I look forward to engaging and serving you in the upcoming year.

For complete event details, as well as to register for NAMRC 47, visit

2019 SME Treasurer Named ABET President-Elect

Dianne Chong, PhD, FSME

The ABET Board of Delegates recently elected 2019 SME Treasurer Dianne Chong, PhD, FSME, as its 2019-20 president-elect. She will be inaugurated during ABET’s fall governance meetings in November.

ABET accredits college and university technical programs committed to the quality of the education they provide. Based in Baltimore, it has over 4,000 programs in 32 countries in the areas of applied and natural science, computing, engineering and engineering technology at the associate, bachelor and master degree levels.

Before retiring in 2015, Chong was the vice president of research and technology in the Boeing Engineering, Operations & Technology organization. In this position, she led special projects that impacted processes and program integration for the Boeing Enterprise. Chong, who joined SME in 1997, was elected an SME Fellow in 2011.

Longtime SME Member Named Dean of Lumpkin College

Eastern Illinois University has named Austin Cheney, PhD, CMfgE, PE, as dean of its newly realigned Lumpkin College of Business and Technology, Charleston, Illinois. Cheney’s new position will begin July 1 when he transfers from his current position as chair of EIU’s School of Technology and associate dean of Lumpkin College.

Austin Cheney, PhD, CMfgE, PE

Prior to joining EIU, Cheney served as dean of the School of Management and Engineering Technology at Alfred State College, Alfred, N.Y., where he oversaw six departments and led budget, strategic and operational planning and assessment for the school. Cheney also served Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tenn., as the founding director of its internationally recognized Concrete Industry Management program and expanded it to three new institutions: Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz., the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, N.J., and California State University at Chico, Chico, Calif.

He is a registered professional engineer in the State of Ohio, an SME-certified manufacturing engineer and holds numerous concrete industry certifications.

Cheney, an SME member since 1993, is a past chair of SME’s former Region 7 and Lima Chapter 97 in Ohio. He also served on the Marketing/Promotion and Education committees of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association and was a member of the Board of Directors of the Engineering Technology Council, part of the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE).

Tennessee Tech Launches New Mobile Multitasking 3D Printer

TechBot, a mobile, multitasking 3D printer, was designed, developed and fabricated by faculty and students at Tennessee Tech.

Tennessee Tech University (TTU), Cookeville, Tenn., has launched TechBot, a mobile, multitasking 3D printer designed, developed and fabricated by TTU faculty and students. TTU has applied for a provisional U.S. patent on the 3D printer. Although there are many 3D printers on the market today, the TechBot differs in its mobility.

Most printers demand a rigid frame structure. This new printer is not limited to a traditional work envelope as are other conventional 3D printers—users can define and set up their own work surface to print almost any type of material from the paste-based extruder. TechBot is funded through NSF Award 1601587, the Additive Manufacturing Workforce Advancement Training Coalition, and Hub (AM-WATCH).

The TechBot research team was led by Ismail Fidan, PhD, faculty advisor for SME’s student chapter at Tennessee Tech. The team also received technical support from SME’s Plastics, Composites & Coatings Community Advisor Mel Cossette, Edmonds Community College, Lynnwood, Wash. Fidan has been an SME member since 1993, while Cossette became a member in 2003.

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