Tom Kurfess, PhD, FSME, PE, the HUSCO/Ramirez Distinguished Chair in Fluid Power and Motion Control and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the 2018 SME President, along with Scott Smith, PhD, FSME, professor and chair of mechanical engineering at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and a past president of NAMRI/SME, are joining the Department of Energy‘s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL; Oak Ridge, TN) to support its pioneering research in advanced manufacturing.
“SME counts many of manufacturing’s leading thinkers within its membership and leadership, and Drs. Kurfess and Smith have long been among our best,” said Sandra Bouckley, interim CEO and Executive Director of SME. “We congratulate Drs. Kurfess and Smith on this inspiring next step in their careers, and we look forward to what they’re going to achieve at ORNL to move our industry forward.”
Kurfess and Smith’s expertise in control systems and machine tooling expands the capabilities of DOE’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL, and their broad experience with industry, academia and the public sector will enhance lab partnerships and promote adoption of new technologies by US manufacturers, according to the laboratory.
“I look forward to joining the team at ORNL in creating, implementing and scaling next-generation technologies to move the U.S. manufacturing base forward,” Kurfess said. “With the facilities and personnel at ORNL, we will be second to none and ensure the leadership of the US in manufacturing for generations to come. It is both exciting and an honor to be on such an amazing team.”
Kurfess will spearhead the development of new manufacturing platforms and control systems that will enable autonomous manufacturing through robotics and controls. He past served as assistant director for advanced manufacturing at the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President of the United States, where he was responsible for engaging the federal sector and scientific community on advanced manufacturing policy. Kurfess also serves on the boards of directors of the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining and the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences and is on the board of trustees for the MT Connect Institute in addition to his role as SME 2018 President. Starting in 2019, he will also serve on the board of governors for ASME and was the 2007-08 president of NAMRI/SME. Kurfess is a Fellow of American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and SME.
“I am excited about returning home [to Tennessee] to work at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, building research and development capabilities in machining and machine tools,” Smith said. “I hope to add a powerful new dimension to the strong manufacturing expertise already in place at ORNL.”
Smith will lead ORNL’s advanced machining and machine tool research, focused on developing the systems, processes, sensors and controls needed to reinvigorate the US industrial base and bolster national security. Smith was recently honored by ASME with the William T. Ennor Manufacturing Technology Award for his “innovations in the field of machining dynamics that have been commercially implemented, leading to significant improvements in machine tool performance and enabling the creation of thin monolithic machined structures in a variety of industries.”
Smith’s teaching and research areas include high-speed machining, process optimization, and machine dynamics. Prior to his work at the University of North Carolina and joining ORNL, Smith served as the assistant director for technology at the US Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office. He holds 11 patents and is one of 17 US Fellows of the International Academy for Production Engineering (CIRP). He is a fellow of both SME and ASME.
The Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL is supported by the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO). AMO supports early-stage research to advance innovation in U.S. manufacturing and promote American economic growth and energy security. UT-Battelle (Oak Ridge, TN) manages ORNL for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.
“We’re pleased to welcome these industry leaders to our advanced manufacturing team,” ORNL director Thomas Zacharia said. “ORNL has been at the forefront of rapid advances in manufacturing technology, and Drs. Kurfess and Smith will lead critical programs in advanced manufacturing, automation, and robotics that support the lab’s mission of delivering scientific and technical solutions to national challenges.”