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COE faculty member receives NSF CAREER award

Xiaochun  Li

Xiaochun Li (large image)

Mechanical Engineering Assistant Professor Xiaochun Li has been awarded $375,000 as part of the National Science Foundation's Faculty Early Career Development Award (CAREER) Program. The awards are granted on the basis of creative career-development plans that effectively integrate research and education.

Li's research involves seeking ways to integrate two fields — layered manufacturing and smart materials and structures. According to Li, little work has been done in integrating the two fields at the mesoscale (from 100 microns to 10 millimeters).

"This is an emerging field," he said. According to Li, the mesoscale layered manufacturing technologies have significant implications for the design and fabrication of mesoscale complex structures, filling the voids of 2D microscale processes (silicon surface micromachining and LIGA process) and 3D macroscale miniature machining. His research provides a solid platform for a seamless integration from CAD to the realization of complex 3D mesoscale smart parts in a wide selection of materials.

In addition, Li plans to conduct research on fundamental issues related to mesoscale layered manufacturing processes. He plans to integrate laser-assisted Shape Deposition Manufacturing (SDM) and Laser Direct Write to build mesoscale smart structures containing embedded micro sensors and actuators. Li's goal is to provide insights into how industry can rapidly manufacture smart devices that perform faster and with better precision.

The educational plan of this NSF award is to improve the existing curriculum in the arena of manufacturing by developing new interdisciplinary elements that integrate the fields of layered manufacturing (Rapid Prototyping), micro-/Nano- manufacturing, and smart materials and structures.