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2015 Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineers

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These 11 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 2015 award is named after 2013 SME President Dennis S. Bray, PhD, FSME, president and CEO, Contour Precision Group LLC.  

Fadi Abu-FarhaFadi Abu-Farha, PhD
Assistant Professor of Automotive Engineering
Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research
Clemson, South Carolina

Fadi Abu-Farha is as an assistant professor of automotive engineering at Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research. Abu-Farha earned his doctorate in mechanical engineering from the University of Kentucky in 2007, and was an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Penn State Erie before joining Clemson University in early 2012. His prime area of research is “Lightweight Materials and their Manufacturing”; Abu-Farha’s research activities target greater utilization of lightweight materials in the transportation sector via the development of cost-effective and energy-efficient manufacturing techniques. Particular topics of interest include: accumulative roll bonding and shear rolling, bulk friction stir forming, cold and warm stamping, hot gas forming, hybrid-material joining and advanced material testing aided by optical metrology. Abu-Farha received the “Outstanding Paper Award” at SME's 2003 North American Manufacturing Research Conference (NAMRC), the “Young Researcher Fellowship” at the 2005 MIT Conference on Computational Fluid and Solid Mechanics, the “Best Poster Award” at the 2013 TMS and the “NSF-CAREER Award” in 2013. Member Since 2002  


Kuldeep AgarwalKuldeep Agarwal, PhD
Assistant Professor
Automotive and Manufacturing Engineering Technology Department
Minnesota State University, Mankato
Mankato, Minnesota  

Kuldeep Agarwal is an assistant professor in the Department of Automotive and Manufacturing Engineering Technology at Minnesota State University, Mankato, and co-director of the Minnesota Center for Additive Manufacturing. Agarwal received his bachelor’s (2001) degree in manufacturing engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, and master’s (2003) and doctorate (2011) degrees in industrial and systems engineering from The Ohio State University. He was an entrepreneur for four years in between his master’s and doctorate education. Agarwal’s research is in the area of process-structure-property relationships in metal-based manufacturing processes. He is currently investigating additive manufacturing of various alloys and composites. Agarwal has mentored several undergraduate and graduate students, and his students have presented at prestigious conferences and venues including the White House. Agarwal is a member of the ASTM F42 Committee on Additive Manufacturing and reviewer for several international journals. His work has appeared in more than 30 peer-reviewed proceedings and journal articles. Member Since 2015  

Kira BartonKira Barton, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Mechanical Engineering
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan  

Kira Barton received her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2001. Barton continued her education in mechanical engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and completed her master’s degree and doctorate in 2006 and 2010, respectively. She held a postdoctoral research position at the University of Illinois from the fall of 2010 until the fall of 2011, at which point she joined the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Her primary research focus is precision coordination and motion control for emerging manufacturing applications, with specializations in iterative learning control and micro-additive manufacturing. Barton’s work intersects controls and manufacturing and combines innovative manufacturing processes with enhanced engineering capabilities. The potential impact of this research ranges from building high-resolution DNA sensors for biological applications to the integration of advanced sensing and control for rehabilitation and manufacturing robotics. Member Since 2015  

Hongtao DingHongtao Ding, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa  

Hongtao Ding is an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at the University of Iowa. His research areas include machining and laser-based material processing. His pioneer work on physics-based modeling of surface microstructural change has been recognized for its impacts on the metalworking industry. Ding has developed innovative technologies for laser-assisted machining of difficult-to-machine materials to improve their machinability. He has published 20 journal papers and received the ASME Best Paper Award (MSEC2011). Ding has been serving on the editorial board of several journals. He has actively participated in activities organized by ASME and SME. Ding has organized the symposium of “Laser, Process Innovations and Energy Field Manufacturing Methodology” for ASME/MSEC. He received his bachelor’s degree from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China, master’s degree from the University of Michigan and doctorate from Purdue University, all in mechanical engineering. Member Since 2013  

Margot HutchinsMargot J. Hutchins, PhD
Senior Member of Technical Staff
Sandia National Laboratories
Livermore, California  

Margot J. Hutchins is a senior member of the technical staff at Sandia National Laboratories. She currently conducts systems analysis in support of U.S. national security objectives, including cyber resilience of critical infrastructure and international engagement on the implementation of nuclear detection architectures. Hutchins received her doctorate from the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics at Michigan Technological University, where she focused on supporting the inclusion of the social dimension of sustainability in business, manufacturing and design decision-making by developing relevant indicators and techniques. Hutchins was a postdoctoral scholar and later a research engineer in the Laboratory for Manufacturing and Sustainability at the University of California, Berkeley. She had the opportunity to work with industrial, regulatory and other stakeholders on a variety of projects, including establishment of a benchmarking methodology to support California’s cap-and-trade program and development of key sustainability performance indicators for a large retailer’s suppliers. Member Since 2014

Josh MooreJosh Moore
Principal Consultant
Level One Consulting Group
San Francisco  

Josh Moore is a principal consultant with Level One Consulting Group. Moore has over 10 years of experience developing, launching, and managing products and services in renewable energy and high-volume manufacturing. He also serves on the board of directors for Exploring New Horizons. Prior to joining L1CG, Moore was the director of product management for Stion Corp. He developed a multigenerational product roadmap and managed the execution of several successful product launches, including the design and launch of a frameless solar module and mounting device. Moore also held positions at Eastern Research Group where he served as an advisor to the EPA’s Sustainable Facilities Branch Chief and General Dynamics, where he managed an integrated product team that spanned the engineering, quality, procurement and logistics organizations. Moore received his master’s degree in business administration from Duke University and bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Florida. Member Since 2014  

Joel NeidigJoel Neidig
Technology Manager
Plymouth, Indiana  

Joel Neidig has a bachelor’s degree in operations management and has had 11 years of experience integrating manufacturing technology and software development. Neidig sits on the Technical Advisory Group for MTConnect, an open-source royalty-free standard that is intended to foster greater interoperability between devices and software applications. He has been an active member of MTConnect since 2009. Neidig developed the first iOS and Android-compatible MTConnect apps, and has developed over 65 manufacturing apps for the App Store and Google Play, which have been downloaded over 250,000 times. He has been named as a manufacturing “Thought Leader” by IMTS Insider. Neidig recently won second place in the MTConnect Challenge at the 2014 MC2 Conference for his application: “Expanding Manufacturing’s Vision: MTConnect + Google Glass,” sponsored by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He has previously been the manufacturing keynote speaker at Autodesk University and recently presented at the 2014 Automotive Innovation Forum. Neidig is very involved in an advisory role at the ITAMCO Manufacturing Education Center located at Plymouth High School, which was started by his company to prepare students for the challenges of careers in manufacturing. Member Since 2014

Natalie RudolphProf. Dr.-Ing. Natalie Rudolph
Assistant Professor
Department of Mechanical Engineering
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, Wisconsin  

Natalie Rudolph is an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she is associate director of the Polymer Engineering Center. Rudolph received her diploma (2004) in textile engineering from the University of Applied Sciences Hof, Germany, and her doctorate in mechanical engineering, specializing in polymer engineering, from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. Her dissertation on “Compression Induced Solidification (CIS) of Amorphous Thermoplastics” was awarded with the Brose Award, as the best doctorate thesis from the German Scientific Alliance of Polymer Technology. Her two-year post-doc was spent at the PEC in Madison, Wisconsin, followed by a position as division head at the Fraunhofer Institute of Chemical Technology in Augsburg, Germany, and lecturer at the Technical University Munich, Germany. Rudolph’s research focuses on additive manufacturing with functionalized polymers for improved mechanical and thermal properties, as well as manufacturing of continuous fiber-reinforced composites for high-volume/high-precision applications. Her work has appeared in numerous peer-reviewed proceedings and journals, and she recently coauthored two Hanser Publishers Books: “German Plastics Handbook” (2013) and “Polymer Rheology” (2015). Member Since 2014  

Fred StackleyFred Stackley
Manufacturing Engineering Superintendent
Lower Powertrain Products
Caterpillar Inc.
Peoria, Illinois

Fred Stackley is responsible for the Technical Services team at Caterpillar Inc.’s Lower Powertrain Products Facility. Through his progression to leadership of manufacturing professionals, Stackley has developed a legacy of coaching and developing others. He has diligently led his team through significant changes, including converting to a SAP-based ERP system and implementing lean manufacturing. Stackley studied engineering management emphasizing industrial engineering at Missouri University of Science & Technology and received a master’s degree in business administration from Indiana University. He started working to reopen a previously closed SME chapter in the Peoria area in 2008. Since then, Stackley has helped grow the chapter with a vision focused on providing training opportunities and STEM-based educational programs to the Greater Peoria area. Through these efforts, the chapter has reached hundreds of elementary students to help create interest in technical educational paths and has grown chapter membership from 20 to 140. Member Since 2014  

Hui John WangHui “John” Wang, PhD
Data Scientist
Research and Advanced Engineering
Ford Motor Co.
Dearborn, Michigan  

Hui “John” Wang received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from Tianjin University, China, in 2001 and 2004, respectively. He also received his master’s degree in statistics and his joint doctorate in industrial and operations engineering and mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, in 2010 and 2009, respectively. Currently, Wang is a data scientist at Research and Advanced Engineering, Ford Motor Co. Prior to joining Ford Research, he was a researcher in the Manufacturing Systems Research Lab of the General Motors Global Research and Development Center. His research primarily focuses on mathematical optimization and its application to manufacturing system design and analysis, applied statistics, and its application to manufacturing processes and quality engineering. Wang has published more than 15 journal and conference papers and holds multiple patents. He was awarded GM’s highest innovation prize, "Boss" Kettering Award in 2012 for the development of the first-in-industry, data-driven process monitoring system for ultrasonic battery tab joining. Member Since 2014  

Chi ZhouChi Zhou, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering
University at Buffalo
Buffalo, New York  

Chi Zhou is an assistant professor in Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University at Buffalo. He received his doctorate in industrial and systems engineering from the University of Southern California in 2012 and his master’s degree in computer science from USC in 2010. Prior to joining UB in July 2013, Zhou was a senior research and development engineer at EnvisionTec Inc. He participated in various R&D projects related to the development of MPSL (mask projection-based stereolithography) and 3SP (scan, spin and selectively photocure). Zhou’s current research interests are in the areas of computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) related to direct digital manufacturing. His research has been published in high-quality venues. Zhou received several best paper awards in SME and ASME-related conferences and journals. Member Since 2015