Mo receives the Outstanding PhD Student award

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Mo Mahmoudi of AMTEX was selected by the Texas A&M Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering graduate committee as an Outstanding PhD Student and was recognized at the Annual Gala. This award is the highest award given in the department to a graduate student and to be selected is a huge accomplishment. Mo has been very productive during his past nine semesters as a PhD student. Under the supervision of Dr. Alaa Elwany, Mo was able to publish his works on uncertainty quantification and anomaly detection in reputable journals and present at numerous conferences. Way to go, Mo!

Elwany receives the NSF CAREER Award

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NSF announced Dr. Elwany as recipient of the 2019 NSF Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) Award. The CAREER program is the National Science Foundation's most prestigious awards in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.

Dr. Elwany’s proposal is entitled (CAREER: The Science of Producing Metallic Parts with Location-Specific Properties Using Additive Manufacturing). Through this award, his team will conduct fundamental research to enable the control of local material properties through locally varying microstructure. This has the potential to realize complex functionalities within monolithic structures, a capability that has not yet been fully realized in metal additive processes.

Click here for more information regarding the award. Congratulations to Dr. Elwany and his research team.

First-place prize in the Blue Sky Competition at the NAMRC 2018

The Texas A&M team took home first place during the Blue Sky Competition for their paper on using advanced manufacturing to address civil engineering restoration. | Image: North American Manufacturing Research Conference

The Texas A&M team took home first place during the Blue Sky Competition for their paper on using advanced manufacturing to address civil engineering restoration. | Image: North American Manufacturing Research Conference

A team of researchers, including three from the Texas A&M University College of Engineering, set the sky as their limit to take home the first-place prize in the Blue Sky Competition at the North American Manufacturing Research Conference.

The goal of the Blue Sky Competition is to identify long-term challenges and new visionary ideas for manufacturing to influence the future of research and education in the U.S.

The Texas A&M team had to work together to develop a plan that had a wide-ranging, hugely-impactful concept, so they focused on civil infrastructure. Infrastructure, which includes everything from roads and buildings to power and water transportation systems, enables trade, supports businesses, maintains the quality of life and provides security against unpredictable events.

However, as the nation’s infrastructure ages, concerns regarding the affordable construction and restoration of civil infrastructure need to be addressed.

“Our team is highly multidisciplinary with expertise that spans advanced manufacturing, civil engineering, construction sciences and architecture,” said Dr. Alaa Elwany, assistant professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering. “We decided to enter the competition because we felt that our idea has significant potential to renew the U.S. aging civil infrastructure through re-imagining the way we build.”

The team researched advances in manufacturing technologies, specifically 3D printing, also called additive manufacturing. This method can potentially offer unique capabilities, including geometric freedom, material-saving through design optimization and functional complexity. Dr. Stephanie Paal, assistant professor in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering, said all team members had a common understanding that innovation in civil infrastructure was lacking.

“Our team saw an urgent need to rethink the design and construction of civil infrastructure,” Paal said. “Our vision was that, by developing and testing new cost-effective manufacturing methods and materials for implementation in civil design and construction processes, we might be able to advance both fields in momentous ways.”

Dr. Zachary Grasley, professor in the civil engineering department and director of the Center for Infrastructure Renewal, said the concept of 3D printing infrastructure is both visionary and a challenge because the manufacturing community views construction as only partially related to their goals. If the U.S. successfully implemented 3D printing technology to build civil infrastructure, Grasley said it could lead to improved efficiency levels and productivity levels in construction.

“The way that we construct or manufacture civil infrastructure – things like bridges, buildings, pipelines, pavements and homes – has changed little over the past several decades in comparison to other manufacturing fields,” Grasley said. “The industry is ripe for innovation.”

“At some job sites, robots and printers are already fabricating building elements; however, additive robotic construction can accommodate growing populations and strengthen national resilience through faster and higher-quality rebuilding capabilities,” said Negar Kalantar Mehrjardi, assistant professor in the College of Architecture and team member.

The judging panel in the competition consisted of industry and government experts, including experts from federal program offices.

“Having our team win the competition is a reassuring indication that these panel experts saw the potential of our idea to have an impact on the future of manufacturing research and education,” Elwany said.

Dr. Zofia Rybkowski, team member and associate professor in the College of Architecture’s Department of Construction, said one of the benefits of the competition and others like it is they enable faculty to prepare students to lead in technological advancement.

“Additive manufacturing of buildings will fundamentally change the way our future graduates manage projects,” Rybkowski said. “Awareness and discussion with Texas A&M students and graduates provide the opportunity for them to guide progress, not only in financially lucrative ways, but in ways that are sustainable and responsible."

“I see this win as a great opportunity for Texas A&M to take a leadership position in the U.S. in the burgeoning field of advanced manufacturing for infrastructure construction,” Grasley said.

By Jennifer Reiley

Former PhD Student Joins Tech Startup in Silicon Valley

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Gustavo Tapia graduated from the Ph.D. program in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Texas A&M University in 2018. His research work included uncertainty quantification and statistical modeling for additive manufacturing processes and multi-scale materials models, as well as machine learning and data mining for construction of surrogate and predictive models. He works now as Data Scientist at Velo3D, Inc., a Silicon Valley tech start-up producing Additive Manufacturing Laser-Powder Bed Systems.

Founded in 2014, Velo3D employs over 100 engineers with a unique combination of disciplines: Process Development, Materials Science, Experimentation & Simulation, Control, Computational Geometry, Capital Equipment Design and Integration. At its headquarters in Campbell, CA, there is a fleet of additive manufacturing systems, with the objective to optimize processes addressing critical customer challenges. As a result, Velo3D designed and successfully printed dozens of parts previously considered impossible to make, unlocking new critical applications for our customers. The parts are ready for volume manufacturing.

Texas A&M students give back to community while studying abroad

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A group of juniors from the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Texas A&M University had the opportunity to give back to their host community while studying abroad in Egypt this winter.

Dr. Alaa Elwany, assistant professor in the department, taught the 14 students during the faculty-led, three-week program. Elwany, who is originally from Alexandria, Egypt, reached out to the local rotary club to see how the students could give back to the community they would be visiting.

The students volunteered their time and money to help set up a special-purpose lab for elementary school students in a local underprivileged school. The students who will use the lab have special needs and are part of the government’s fusion program. As part of the program, students with special needs study one-third of the curriculum in the lab, which is equipped with customized educational tools designed to address their needs.

“One-third of their curriculum is taught to them in that lab, which is set up for that particular purpose, and then the rest of the curriculum is taught to them with the rest of the kids so that they fuse without being left out,” Elwany said.

Once onsite, the Aggie students worked with the local students to learn how to use the educational tools provided on computers and other custom-designed educational tools. They worked with the local student chapter of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers to communicate between Arabic and English.

“It is a very welcoming country,” Elwany said. “In appreciation of what they did, the kids made a little performance for them where they sang local welcoming songs and held heart-shaped flags of the U.S. and Egypt to demonstrate unity. We got local Egyptian school students who never got out of their cities to interact with our students.”

Along with volunteering, the students completed a three-hour course and explored the city, visiting about 19 tourist sites. Elwany said the overall experience can have a positive impact on students as they move forward in their careers.

“They’re enhancing their skills, and some of them may aspire to spend some time working outside the country, so this experience was perfect for them to learn how to interact with a radically different culture,” Elwany said.

This December will be the third year for the study abroad program to Egypt.

By Jennifer Reiley

Elwany named 2017 Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award recipient

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Dr. Alaa Elwany, assistant professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Texas A&M University, was named the recipient of 2017 Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME).

This award is given to engineers age 35 or younger who have made exceptional contributions and accomplishments in the manufacturing industry.

“Dr. Elwany is a key player in our additive manufacturing research efforts,” said Dr. Mark Lawley, department head of the industrial and systems engineering department. “In the coming years his research will establish our department as the leading center for advanced manufacturing research. He is richly deserving of this highly competitive award from SME.”

Elwany received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in production engineering from Alexandria University, Egypt, in 2002 and 2004, respectively, and a doctoral degree in industrial and systems engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2009.

Prior to joining Texas A&M, Elwany worked as a research scientist at the Manufacturing Systems Research Laboratory (General Motors R&D), and was a faculty member at the Eindhoven University of Technology, the Netherlands.

He studies the modeling, analysis, and control of advanced manufacturing processes and manufacturing systems, with particular emphasis on additive manufacturing and reliability engineering. 

By Megan Sharp

Elwany trail blazes the way for 3D printing in Middle East

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Metal additive manufacturing service bureaus are located in many regions over the world, but the Middle East is not one of them. Dr. Alaa Elwany, assistant professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Texas A&M University, jumped at the opportunity of a lifetime to participate in founding the first metal 3-D printing service bureau in this region.

“There are many in the United States, a few in Europe, but there are none in the Middle East,” Elwany said. “We are based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and are absolutely the first service bureau offering metal 3-D printing service in the Middle East.”

Julian Callanan is the founder of the new company, Sinterex. Callanan has vast experience in consulting services in the Middle East. He worked on forming a strong multi-disciplinary management team for the new business, and reached out to Elwany and Dr. Paul Smith, a research fellow from the Glasglow School of Art Institute of Design Innovation in Scotland, to serve as technical directors.

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“He wanted to build a team with expertise that spans design, manufacturing, optimization and business development,” Elwany said. “Dr. Smith and I go there every four to five months to hold a meeting for the directors, discuss business development activities, meet with potential clients and participate in technology events.”

Sinterex will provide two main services to those interested in 3-D printed parts.

“First is the consulting services,” Elwany said. “Basically, when there is a manufacturing or service company in the region that is not sure what metal 3-D printing has to offer, we help them understand the value proposition of metal 3-D printing and how it can contribute to time and cost saving compared to traditional manufacturing technologies such as CNC machining.”

The second benefit Sinterex will provide is manufacturing services. With a newly acquired metal 3-D printer on site, the team will hire an engineer and a technician to operate the machine and provide metal 3-D printed parts for interested businesses in the region. They plan to begin production in November 2016.

In the beginning, the entrepreneurs are targeting a small biomedical sector in the Middle East to begin building their reputation and brand of services.

“We would like to be true leaders in additive manufacturing services for the biomedical sector with a focus on dental applications,” Elwany said. “So, we will be manufacturing customized crowns for dental labs and focusing on establishing our names as leaders in the entire Middle East. That list includes 22 countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Lebanon.”

3-D Printed Piece

In the future, the trio plans to target the production of tooling for manufacturing companies with the purchase of a larger machine. Tooling is a major cost component for companies in the manufacturing and oil and gas sectors, and Sinterex plans to offer additive manufacturing services that can help in significantly reducing cost and lead time.

“One big application for additive manufacturing is to not make the end-part itself, but to make the tool or mold that will be used to produce the part,” Elwany said. “This is a big sector of the additive manufacturing market and we would like to target this sector moving forward.”

Recently featured in major news outlets such as Metal Additive Manufacturing magazine and Al- Arabiya English, the leading 24-hour news station in the Arab world, the group is looking forward to what the future has in store for the new company.

“We are a relatively young business and were not even hopeful that we would be able to start production in the first year, but our business team secured funds from the region to begin production in November,” Elwany said. “So, we are happy with our progress thus far.”

By Lorian Hopcus

Avnet and Elwany win best paper at Institute of Industrial Engineers annual conference

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Dr. Mark Avnet and Dr. Alaa Elwany, assistant professors in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Texas A&M University, jointly won Best Engineering Management Track Paper at the annual Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE) conference in Nashville, Tennessee.

Their paper entitled, “Additive Manufacturing of Complex Products by DSM-based Analysis of Architecture,” discussed a novel approach for overcoming some limitations of current additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, technologies.

Currently, additive manufacturing is a relatively slow process limited to manufacturing small parts. Avnet’s and Elwany’s paper introduced a proof-of-concept method that optimizes and enhances the printability of larger, more complex objects.

“This paper was about articulating an idea that we think is important and innovative,” Avnet said. “And, I am really excited about applying a systems approach to new additive manufacturing technologies.”

“Winning this award was instrumental for mine and Dr. Avnet’s continued collaboration,” Elwany said. “Now we are taking it to the experimental level because of that paper.”

By Sara Carney

A Brilliant Egyptian Is Re-shaping “Smart Metals”

Many Egyptian/American professionals in Houston identify themselves as Doctors or Engineers that it’s almost a stereotype. Well, this is one man who is both. Dr. Alaa Elwany, assistant professor at the Dwight Look College of Engineering at Texas A&M University, was awarded the $500,000 Early Stage Innovations Research Grant from NASA for his “breakthrough” proposal to the “Space Technology Research, Development, Demonstration, and Infusion” or SpaceTech-REDDI.

“When you get affiliated with research you do for NASA, that’s something to get you excited” Dr. Elwany said. “I was extremely lucky to get this early in my career and eventually seeing my research being implemented in NASA”.

From the shores of Alexandria to the plains of Texas, Dr. Elwany made a career out of innovation. In 2004, he received his Masters of Science degree in Production Engineering from Alexandria University, Egypt. Then in 2009, Dr. Elwany got a Ph.D in Industrial & Systems Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. His career took him to the Netherlands where he was an Assistant Professor at Eindhoven University of Technology, the highest ranked Technical University in Europe. Dr. Elwany moved back to the US to join General Motor’s Research team where his first patent was filed on April 2012. Fast forward to the Lone Star State, in a little over a year Dr. Elwany’s ground breaking research in Additive Manufacturing, aka 3D Printing, grabbed the attention of industries like Aerospace, Biomedical, and Oil & Gas. In other words, his innovative manufacturing methods are optimizing every major industry in Texas.

“3D printing is a relatively clean technology” Dr. Elwany said. “The impact of 3D printing on sustainability is huge”.

Dr. Elwany said more research on manufacturing and applications of shape memory alloys is in his future work. According to Dr. Elwany, these alloys are almost impossible to manufacture using conventional methods and that the most we have got from it so far are wires. He believes that in a period of three years shape Memory Alloys will be used on trips to space.

So keep an eye on Dr. Elwany’s work. He is a true Hero of the Egyptian American Society. May be one day we will get a car body that can be fixed with a hair dryer, a seat that changes shape with every user to perfectly fit or even better, self-tying shoelaces.

Written by Ramy M. Saleh
Edited by Marwa Abdou and Sarah Raslan

Elwany, Karaman and Arroyave win NASA research grant

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Dr. Alaa Elwany, assistant professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Texas A&M University, along with Dr. Ibrahim Karaman and Dr. Raymundo Arroyave from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering was awarded a $500,000 Early Stage Innovations (ESI) Research Grant from NASA for their proposal in response to the NASA SpaceTech-REDDI Research Announcement. Elwany is the PI on the proposal, while Karaman and Arroyave are the co-PIs. 

A panel of subject matter experts assessed submissions against the criteria: relevance to NASA’s objectives, technical approach, management approach, and cost.

Early State Innovations is a part of the Space Technology Research, Development, Demonstration, and Infusion 2014 program. The program is an umbrella of research grants by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate seeking aggressive technology development efforts that may require undertaking significant technical challenges and risk to achieve a higher potential payoff.

The grant money will support three Ph.D. students to be supervised by the project team members to investigate the fabrication of nickel-titanium shape memory alloys, commercially known as Nitinol, using selective laser melting (a laser-based additive manufacturing process).

“The award grant will be used by the team to study the additive manufacturing (3D Printing) of shape memory alloys," Elwany said. "These alloys are very sensitive to manufacturing process parameters, and the focus of this project will be on reducing the variability in the performance of printed (manufactured) parts through microstructure control and design. Shape memory alloys have very promising application potential across many industry sectors, including the automotive, aerospace, and biomedical sectors.”