Mechanical Engineering Research

Mechanical engineering faculty are actively engaged in a wide range of research including areas of energy, robotics, nonlinear dynamics and vibrations, biomechanics, materials, combustion and propulsion, structural controls and dynamic systems, control systems, instrumentation, optimization, laser material processing, and design and manufacturing. Dynamics research pertains to nonlinearity and noise in small-scale vibrational devices, the design of micro- and nanoscale resonators for sensing and signal processing applications. Materials research is being conducted in analytical and numerical models in phase coarsening. In the area of energy combustion and propulsion, research is focused on areas such as zero-energy building, inverse heat transfer problems and production and engineering of gas turbines and rotating machinery. In the area of design and manufacturing, research is being conducted in design process using networks and artifacts of early design. Laser materials research focuses on high-precision processing of virtually any material, micro- and nano-structuring, surface functionalization, cutting, drilling and polishing of gentle materials and in-volume processing of transparent materials.

Dr. Hector Gutierrez's areas of focus are in automatic control and mechatronics for aerospace systems, in particular for motion control and guidance. Recent projects include vision-based navigation for rendezvous, docking and precision landing applications, FPGA-based control of brushless motors, monitoring and control of flexible structures, and magnetic suspension systems.

Dr. Gerald Micklow's areas of research interest are in jet and rocket propulsion systems, advanced low pollutant emission, high-efficiency combustions systems for advanced aircraft and automotive applications, alternative fuels and renewable energy systems. His research over the years has been heavily funded by NASA, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the Federal Aviation Administration, Argonne National Labs, NavAir, Cummins, Caterpillar, and others. 

Dr. Ilya Mingareev's research is in the areas of laser-assisted processing of high-performance materials, fundamentals of laser-matter interactions using ultrashort-pulsed lasers, time- and space-resolved investigations of ultrafast physical phenomena, micro- and nano-processing of advanced materials with ultrafast lasers, direct laser writing of integrated photonics devices in visible and infrared spectral ranges, and new methodologies for Laser Additive Manufacturing (LAM) of metals, ceramics and high-temperature compounds.

Dr. Hamidreza Najafi’s research has been in the areas of heat transfer, thermal systems design and optimization, energy efficiency and renewable energy systems. His recent research works have been focused on inverse heat conduction problems, energy efficiency and renewable energy systems. Some of his research contributions include designing and optimization of net zero energy buildings and developing filter-based solutions for inverse heat conduction problems (IHCP’s) for real-time heat flux estimation using transient temperature data. 

Dr. Darshan Pahinkar's research is devoted to addressing the engineering and societal challenges in harvesting clean energy with minimum penalty on the environment.  The current energy infrastructure is dominated by combustion of the finite resources of fossil fuels leading to environmental concerns that are intensifying each year. Therefore, there is an urgent need to manage the available primary energy resources judiciously, and to devise and implement thermally efficient energy systems that can minimize electricity consumption. Such a transition will eventually contribute to reduced burden on power industries, reduced use of conventional energy sources, and reduced carbon footprint, simultaneously achieving overall energy sufficiency. While this goal is straightforward, there is no unique solution to achieve it and a diverse portfolio of technology initiatives will be needed. For the very reason, Dr. Pahinkar's research focuses on the computational and experimental development, and performance enhancement of innovative, energy-efficient and environment-friendly thermal energy conversion and storage systems.  

Dr. Chiradeep Sen's research interests include design theory and methodology, formal representations and reasoning in engineering, design cognition, AI for design, design for X, additive manufacturing, and knowledge-based engineering systems.  His research is funded by the National Science Foundation, General Motors Company, and the United States Council for Automotive Research (USCAR).  In his current NSF-funded research project, Dr. Sen is studying the human processes of design in terms of information transformations between various representations, including those in the cognitive domain (in the brain) and those on external media such as paper.

Dr. Steven Shaw’s research interests are centered on the development of physics-based predictive models for vibrational systems and the use of these models for design.  Specific applications include resonant micro-electro-mechanical-systems used for sensing and time-keeping and centrifugal pendulum vibration absorbers used for attenuating torsional vibrations in automotive powertrains. His research projects involve close collaboration with experimental and/or industrial research groups that guide and utilize his modeling and analysis efforts. His recent work has been funded by the NSF, the BSF, FCA, and Valeo.

Dr. Kegang Wang's research interest covers theoretical, computational, and experimental materials science, condensed matter physics, statistical mechanics, and nanotechnology. One of goals is to understand nucleation and growth mechanisms, and evolution of microstructures and nanostructures in materials, to optimize these structures, and finally to design new structures. Another goal is to link processing and structures to various properties of materials, and to predict properties of materials by multiscale modeling. Materials include hard and soft materials such as alloys, nanocomposites, colloids, and polymers. One of his interests is on study of materials for solar cells. His interests also include statistical description of anomalous diffusion and relaxation processes in heterogeneous materials and biological systems.

Dr. Xingjian Wang’s areas of focus include modeling and simulation of complex fluid flows and combustion in practical propulsion and power-generation systems, surrogate-based modeling for efficient design and optimization, computational and data-enabled approaches for model development, deep neural networks for fast and accurate real-fluid property evaluation, and vorticity dynamics of swirling flows. Our recent research accomplishments have been well recognized by the community. Our research paper “An efficient surrogate model for emulation and physics extraction of large eddy simulations” has beed selected as prestigious Statistics in Physical Engineering Sciences (SPES) Award by the American Statistical Society, and our another research paper “Three-dimensional flow dynamics and mixing in a gas-centered liquid-swirl coaxial injector at supercritical pressure” has been promoted as the Front Cover of June issue of the Journal Physics of Fluids.

Dr. Shengyuan Yang’s areas of focus include cell mechanics and development of micromechanical devices to study cell mechanics. Dr. Yang invented the first class of curvature-defined substrates for uses in cell and tissue culturing and in other surface and interface applications and a class of sensors for decoupled-measuring of three-dimensional forces in air or liquids, for which Dr. Yang has nine US patents and pending patents and one China Utility Mode patent. Dr. Yang also showed that substrate curvature alone can induce stem cell differentiation. 

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