Dr. Elham Mirkoohi Gives Seminar Over Process Prediction and Optimization of Metals Additive Manufacturing

On March 5, Dr. Elham Mikoohi gave a presentation on, “Process Prediction and Optimization of Metals Additive Manufacturing.” Dr. Mikoohi is a postdoctoral scholar research associate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology.

Abstract: In the past few years, the second wave of digital manufacturing – additive manufacturing– has received a technological breakthrough. Although additive manufacturing has the potential to revolutionize the way products are produced, the process prediction and optimization of additive manufacturing have not yet been in a place where the parts can be manufactured with high quality and performance, and it currently involves lots of trial and errors which would take months or even years to come up with the desired part performance with millions of dollars investments. To break through the technology bottlenecks, accurate and high computationally efficient frameworks are required to simulate the multi-physics aspects of additive manufacturing processes. In this seminar, Dr. Mirkoohi will present her research efforts focused on the development of low-cost physics-based computational framework to predict the key additive manufacturing attributes including temperature field, thermal stress distribution, residual stress distribution, and the microstructural evolution to be derived as explicit functions of the metal powder starting properties and additive manufacturing process parameters. She will show how these physics-based computational models can cooperatively work together in a small fraction of the time needed for finite element simulation or full-physics simulation. In addition, she will present a combined physics-based machine learning platform that is developed to assess the process maps to guide the process parameters in achieving desired part performance.

Bio: Elham Mirkoohi is a postdoctoral scholar research associate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology, working with Professor Surya Kalidindi and Professor Aaron Stebner. She is also the executive coordinator of Novelis Innovation Hub at Georgia Institute of Technology. She received her Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, where she was advised by Professor Steven Liang and Professor Hamid Garmestani, and B.Sc. and M.Sc. from University of Tehran and Oregon State University, respectively. Elham worked at Tesla Motors and the Boeing Company as a research intern and research assistant, respectively. Elham Mirkoohi’s convergence research spans mechanical engineering, materials science and engineering, and computer science. Her cross-disciplinary research focuses on modeling, monitoring, control, and optimization of precision manufacturing. She has authored more than 25 Journal and conference papers in top-ranked Journals and conferences in the field of advanced manufacturing. She also serves as a program committee of several conferences and as a reviewer for more than 15 Journals and conferences in her field.


Highlighting Devin Laurence

Devin Laurence received his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering in May of 2018, he then obtained his master’s degree the following year. Since then, Laurence has continued his journey at OU by pursuing a Ph.D. with a research focus on cardiovascular biomechanics. He has earned many awards for his work including The National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and The American Heart Association/Children’s Heart Foundation (AHA/CHF) Pre-Doctoral Fellowship.

Devin with his current device in the Biomechanics and Biomaterials Design Lab (BBDL)

Laurence said Dr. Lee helped him to discover his interests in research during his junior year of undergrad. Laurence said he, “started to work with Dr. Lee and realized he did some exciting research.” He was interested in applying things they learned in class to aspects of the biomedical field. Eventually, he was hooked.

With the completion of his undergraduate mechanical engineering degree and his involvement in the accelerated master’s program, he was able to transition easily into graduate school, which allowed him to focus more on the biomedical side of mechanical engineering. As he began work in the Biomechanics and Biomaterials Design Lab (BBDL), he found his passion. He really liked how “you could pursue whatever you wanted because there was so much intellectual freedom.” He said, “you’re always motivated to search new avenues and get into stuff you probably never would’ve expected.”

Presently, Laurence is taking everything he learned in his mechanical engineering undergrad and applying it to biomedical systems. He, “mechanically characterizes the heart valve leaflets and then can do things like simulate the heart function or look at the different aspects of the leaflets.” Part of his dissertation work involves studying how the heart adapts to diseases. So “if you have increased pressure in your heart, how do these structures thicken or become stiffer in response?”

Laurence is “currently designing and constructing a novel planar biaxial bioreactor system (known in his lab as the BioBiax) to characterize the cell-mediated growth and remodeling of the tricuspid heart valve leaflets. The system includes two key components: (i) the planar biaxial testing component (shown in the picture above) and (ii) a flow loop to continuously supply cell media to the tissue to maintain cell viability (under construction). Throughout 2021, Laurence will use this system to characterize how the tricuspid valve leaflets respond to pathological conditions. The tricuspid valve leaflets will be mounted to the system, cyclically loaded/unloaded for 1-2 weeks to the pathological loading, and then characterized to understand how the leaflets have changed due to the pathological loading. Data from these experiments will enable them to establish a new mechanistic constitutive model that can predict the tricuspid valve leaflet mechanical behavior and consider the cell-mediated growth and remodeling response to the pathological loading. The new model then can be employed  in computer simulations to better understand the role of the cell-mediated growth and remodeling in congenital heart diseases, such as hypoplastic left heart syndrome, or in the recurrence of tricuspid regurgitation following the clinical repair in adult patients.”

Logo created courtesy of Ryan Bodlak

Laurence’s favorite part about OU is the people and opportunities. He said, “he really enjoys everyone in the department.” Collaborating with the BME department and the Health Science Center has been a great experience for him. He said, “it’s a really interesting hub that you wouldn’t expect.”

After he receives his Ph.D., his goal is to become a faculty member. He said, “it can either be doing a postdoc right after [he] graduates or getting a little industry experience first,” but eventually, he knows he wants to be in academia.

Laurence believes that students should not be afraid to try anything. “You never know what you’re going to enjoy or what doors are going to open up.”

Below is a full list of all the awards Laurence has received so far:

  • American Heart Association/Children’s Heart Foundation Pre-Doctoral Fellowship
  • National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship
  • Second Place Winner at 2020 SB3C Ph.D.-Level Student Paper Competition
  • First Place Winner at 2019 SB3C M.S.-Level Student Paper Competition
  • Thomas Milam, Sr., Endowed Fellowship
  • OU Alumni and Foundation Recruitment Fellowship
  • OU GCoE Ph.D. Recruitment Excellence Fellowship
  • First-Place Poster Award at the 3rd OU-OUHSC Biomedical Engineering Symposium
  • Grand Prize Recipient at Oklahoma Research Day at the Capitol

Highlighting Dr. Miller and Dr. Fagg’s Research Project: Progressive Locomotor Learning in Infants at Risk for Cerebral Palsy

Dr. David Miller and Dr. Andrew Fagg are working with researchers and children all over the country to develop a device called the Self-Initiated Prone Progression Crawler (SIPPC) that they hope will be a new treatment for cerebral palsy. The project is called, “Progressive Locomotor Learning in Infants at Risk for Cerebral Palsy.”

Pictured is a child on the SIPPC 3 developed during a NSF NRI grant in 2015. The PIs were: Andy Fagg, David Miller, Lei Ding, and Thubi Kolobe. The grad students from AME that worked on this were Michael Nash and Mustafa Ghazi, both of whom have since graduated (Ph.D. in 2018). Currently, Mustafa Ghazi, as a PostDoc is working on the current version of the SIPPC for the most recent grant. Photo by Hugh Scott.

The research project was given its first grant in 2013, and the researchers (including undergraduate, graduate, and Postdoc students) were ready to create the SIPPC. According to Dr. Miller, “people are at risk for cerebral palsy, but there isn’t a diagnosis that’s done in the age group [they’re] dealing with.” There are, “children at risk for cerebral palsy because they’ve had some sort of trauma either during the birth process or while in the womb.” It’s usually that they’re not moving normally. So, to test the children’s mobility, they evaluate two different groups on the SIPPC. One group has a set of infants that are developing typically, and the other group has infants at risk for cerebral palsy.

Researchers are working on different aspects of this project from coast to coast. In Philadelphia, they bring in and work with all participating patients. In California, they are developing a set of sensors that are protocol for random leg movements in the first few months of child development. Here at OU, they’re developing and testing the SIPPC, “and the plan is to send that off to Philadelphia.”

Pictured is a child on the SIPPC 3 developed during a NSF NRI grant in 2015. The PIs were: Andy Fagg, David Miller, Lei Ding, and Thubi Kolobe. The grad students from AME that worked on this were Michael Nash and Mustafa Ghazi, both of whom have since graduated (Ph.D. in 2018). Currently, Mustafa Ghazi, as a PostDoc is working on the current version of the SIPPC for the most recent grant. Photo by Hugh Scott.

The SIPPC has gone through several revisions. Currently, the group is on its fourth version of the motorized skateboard called SIPPC-4. It’s a motorized skateboard the kids can lie down on, but it measures all the forces of the infants. It has a force-torque sensor, wheel encoders, a few computers, and some cameras onboard. The information automatically goes to a person’s phone or iPad. It also gives an interface to a therapist, so they can control it by getting it out of corners or stopping it if the kid is crying.

“The standard mode is where the kid actually touches the ground and tries to crawl as the device amplifies and quantizes the child’s movements.” So even if they’re a little weak, they get the idea of exploring and having self-determination. There is also an automated learning component.  “Even if the child does not touch the ground, but they make the motions as if they are crawling,” the device will work with them. The kids wear a suit that contains several position sensors so the robot can measure the arm and leg positions and movements on the SIPPC.” This way the automated system can coordinate the robot’s movements with the child’s actions.

Dr. Miller said he’s, “hopeful that this research will, probably in the long term, provide some benefit to these subjects or others with a similar condition.”

AME Hosts Annual Graduate Program Meet and Greet

Saturday, February 20th, we hosted our annual AME Graduate Program Meet and Greet. The slides and Zoom video can be found below if you were unable to make it to the event.

Link to the Powerpoint presentation: Workshop for undergraduate recruitment – 1-14-2021

Link to the complete Zoom meeting: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1nUjSXw3SP0KgbJhD-aM6b-nWuc3PZi5v/view?usp=sharing

Dr. Rong Gan Recognized by OU on International Women and Girls in STEM Day

AME’s Dr. Rong Gan was recognized by OU on International Women and Girls in STEM Day. The full article can be found below or through this link: https://ou.edu/web/research/women-in-science. Congratulations Dr. Gan!

Rong Zhu Gan is a Presidential Research Professor and the Charles E. Foster Chair in the Gallogly College of Engineering, Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering. Her current research is supported by the Department of Defense and explores blast exposure hearing loss.

Supported by a $2.5 million DoD grant to understand blast-induced hearing loss by using biomedical measurement, her team developed the first 3D computational model to predict the blast wave transmission outside into the cochlear. A current grant extends that work to explore a cure for blast-induced hearing loss by using a leading diabetes drug that has the potential to recovery sensory auditory damage.

Gan has two patents currently under review, adding to two previous patent awards. One of the patents being reviewed is for use of the diabetes drug to treat trauma-induced hearing loss; the other is for mid-ear reconstruction using a 3D printer that can print soft and hard tissue.

Rong Gan Portrait

She said she likes the challenge of studying hearing and her work has made others take notice, including being asked to serve on the DoD’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs. The CDMRP aims to advance medical and scientific research and fill research gaps by funding high-impact, high-risk and high-gain projects that other agencies may not venture to fund.

“Hearing is a challenge,” Gan said. “Also hearing is more close to the patient, to the benefit of society. It is not the pure, basic research. We are close to real society…I am very honored to be a part of the CDMRP panel to determine this funding.”

Gan’s research success is made all the more impressive by the perseverance that presided it.

Born in Wuhan, China, Gan’s educational opportunities were limited during the Cultural Revolution in China. She trained as a mechanical engineer and worked at a car manufacturing company from 1968 to 1978. With the end of the Cultural Revolution, she went back to school to pursue a graduate education, changing her area of study from mechanical engineering to biomechanics.

“In 1978, I met the father of biomechanics or biomedical engineering, YC Fung from the U.S., when he visited Huazhong University of Science and Technology,” she said. “Since then, I was YC Fung’s student.”

Yuan-Cheng “Bert” Fung was an American bioengineer, regarded as a founding figure of bioengineering, tissue engineering, and the “Founder of Modern Biomechanics.”

In 1983, Fung hosted the first U.S., China and Japan biomechanics conference at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan. Gan was a master’s student at the time and reported her first scientific paper during that meeting.

She wanted to study with Fung in his lab at U.C. San Diego, but didn’t have the English language skills to pass the entrance exam. Instead, she used Russian as her foreign language to complete a master’s degree in mathematics at the University of Alberta Edmonton, Canada.

Fung and Gan crossed paths again in 1988 at a conference in Ottawa, where he introduced her to his former student, Michael Yen, who had started a biomedical engineering program at the University of Memphis. Gan completed her doctorate in biomedical engineering from the University of Memphis in 1992.

“My Ph.D. is in pulmonary blood flow in the lung biomechanics,” she said. “That was YC Fung’s direction. Later on, after my short postdoctoral period in New Mexico, I came to Oklahoma in 1995, totally changing my direction into hearing and the auditory system. I came to Oklahoma to be the director for hearing implantable devices at the Hough Ear Institute.”

Gan helped gain the institute’s first FDA-approved mid-ear implantable device.

In 1998, OU received a Special Opportunity Award to develop a biomedical engineering program, the first program of its kind in the region. Gan became the first biomedical engineering faculty member at OU. It began as a graduate program in 2003 and expanded to an undergraduate degree in 2016.

“You can see in my training how broad my background was. YC Fung is my mentor,” Gan said. “He introduced me to these new fields, biomechanics and biomedical engineering. He was the first advisory board member for (OU’s) biomedical engineering.”

Gan now pays that mentorship forward with students in her own lab.

“I always get very good students from the biomedical engineering department, and I love to teach and to mentor students,” she said. “In any lab, if you want to be successful, you must look for new direction. No matter your skin color or where you come from, you have to work hard. You must build your motivation for the science…you love the discussion, the discovery, to solve the unknown questions. I believe motivation is very important and finding a good mentor.”

She adds that a good professor is responsible for providing guidance to show students what is important, but a student’s success depends on their own motivation.

“Any success depends on yourself,” she said. “No matter what environment, persevere, work hard. If you really want to jump into science and technology, you need to have experience.”

AME Alumni Highlights: Dr. Amber Walker and Tayera Ellis

AME is delighted to have such talented Alumni who continue to make us proud after graduation. This week, we’re highlighting Dr. Amber Walker, who attended graduate school in 2010, and Tayera Ellis, who received her aerospace engineering degree in 2018.

Amber Walker, PhD

I’m currently in-between positions.  I just concluded a 3.5-year tour as a Program Manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and will soon be taking up a position leading Autonomous Systems strategy at Raytheon BBN.

I have had a varied career between active duty military service and my academic pursuits.  As an Army officer, I’ve served as a communications officer and operations researcher in between degrees at Oxford and OU.  I have designed and taught engineering curriculum at the United States Military Academy and advised undergraduate research, served in technical workforce development roles (recruitment and training), and most recently held a position as a Research and Development Program Manager responsible for the cost, schedule, and technical achievement of a portfolio of military defense projects – primarily aligned to the US Army – at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. I was responsible for defining problems, creating the means by which to solve them with large and small businesses alike, and overseeing the accomplishments of those performers for the life of the project.  I’ve done this with advanced missile systems and rockets, ground vehicles, novel human interfaces, self-reconfigurable modular robotics, and more.

I did my undergraduate degree at West Point in Mechanical/Aeronautical Engineering.  I had a number of unique and rewarding experiences there including a capstone project, flight laboratories aboard both Cessna fixed wing and Huey rotary wing platforms, trips to Cape Canaveral, and more.  In 2004 I was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship and began my two-year journey at Oxford, which was a much different experience than US-based graduate school. I took no courses, but instead worked for 20 months on a dissertation and viva related to ‘Fast Crack Propagation in Ductile Metals.’  I primarily investigated how we could use empirical evidence to improve finite element models to support the validation and testing of two metal alloys for Rolls Royce (civil air) and BMW (automobiles).  Finally, I had the opportunity to return to graduate school at OU in 2010 where I shifted my focus away from solid mechanics and into Human-Robot Interaction. I made this move following my experience as a military officer deployed to Iraq having watched the Army struggle to fully adopt a new radio system.  While technically more capable, the system suffered from poor user interface design and inspired me to focus on user-centered design, which I applied to robotics under Professor David Miller.  That really started my pivot into autonomous systems and advanced ground robots as well as wearables and I’m still passionate about creating technology that is intuitive, useful, and performance-enhancing.

Both of my graduate degrees have been paramount to achieving my professional goals and my growth as a leader in the field of autonomous systems and mechanical engineering.  I credit them with the ability to clearly communicate difficult technical subjects, both in writing and verbally, as well as exposing me to problems and solutions across multiple topic areas.  It’s amazing how often my experience from a machine shop (G-code) or design of experiments is called upon!  Further, I’ve really treasured the friends and colleagues with whom I’ve been able to work and the network of brilliant people that I can call upon.

Some of my favorite memories I have as an OU student include cleaning out the lab and then heading to Pepe’s for Mexican food (which is still way better in Oklahoma than in DC), stealing a parking space from Tai, any football game, and all the snow days!!  I think my first January back we were only on campus for 5 days 🙂

I had my first child while at OU, and it shows…he’s a HUGE Sooner football fan.  It is possible, with the right partner, to have meaningful academic and professional success while building a family and enjoying a work/life balance. It’s not always easy, and it does require commitment, but it is possible.  I’m encouraged to see more and more men and women finding a balance that suits their personal goals.


Tayera Ellis

I currently serve as a Test Director for space environmental tests. This role includes test planning, coordinating, and providing engineering modifications to test facilities. I brief and train test subjects, including astronauts, in the operation of test systems and training with the Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU).

I have a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering, Class of 2018. I was a 4-time NASA intern, and Stress Engineering Intern for Spirit AeroSystems.

As an engineer in the industry, I don’t use much of the technical portion of my engineering degree, however, I do continue to use the skills I developed for studying and learning. Getting an aerospace engineering degree took patience and persistence, and many challenges in my career also take the same virtues.

My favorite memory as an OU Student was graduation.

It’s important for students to keep moving forward. Although classes are tough and highly technical, once you are working as an engineer in the industry, you will have opportunities to continue learning on the job and gain knowledge from other engineers with 20+ years of experience. Don’t give up, because the outcome is worth all the hard work!


Highlighting Dr. Cai’s Research

This week, we are highlighting Dr. Jie Cai’s research in the Smart Buildings Laboratory.  His research topics include Design and Control of Phase Change Material-Based Energy Storage, Control and Dynamic Modeling of Vapor-Compression System, Building Thermal Equipment for Power Frequency Regulation, Building Thermal Loads for Power Voltage Control, and Controls to Enable Sustainable Communities.

Dr. Cai directs the Smart Buildings Laboratory which houses a fully instrumented psychrometric chamber that can accommodate testing of thermal systems under accurately controlled environmental conditions. The facility is being actively utilized in support of several research projects related to ultra-high efficiency desalination technologies enabled by low-temperature refrigerant cycles, advanced controls of variable-speed heat pump equipment, and grid-interactive efficient buildings. The research efforts are currently supported by DOE, APRA-E, and leading HVAC manufacturers.

Senior Pre-Capstone Teams Build Autonomous Robots


This year’s winning robot.

This year’s senior Pre-Capstone teams were tasked with going through an extensive design process to design, build, and test an autonomous robot that could navigate around a predetermined track. This process was designed to mimic a companies design process following the required paperwork, design decisions, CAD, FEA, and ultimately working prototype.

Teams came up with one-off solutions such as 3D printed parts, wireless controlled robots, mechanical steering mechanisms, and an array of custom electrical components. This exercise helped the mechanical engineers broaden their skills and ideas while teaching students how to work through a complicated design process. The winning team as pictured above used a custom cardboard chassis to save on weight and 3D printed guide rails to keep the robot from hanging up on the wall. The team used high torque servo motors as a drive mechanism to maximize the weight they could carry while still remaining relatively fast. The video below shows the second-place team’s mechanical approach that used Legos and motors to quickly move around the track while rubbing against the wall. This team focused on using a simple solution to accomplish the same goal and minimizing design time.

All of the teams did well implementing several different design philosophies to highlight the importance of diverse ideas in engineering.

Below are the robots from other teams.



Boomer Rocket Team and Sooner Off-Road Begin Their Thousands Strong Campaigns!

This month, Boomer Rocket Team and Sooner Off-Road kicked off their Thousands Strong Campaigns! These student teams want your support to help them get to competition.

Sooner Off-Road is a student team that designs, manufactures, and races an off-road vehicle for the Baja SAE competition. They are hoping to raise $7,000 before their Thousands Strong campaign ends on December 5, 2020, at 11:55 p.m. The money donated to them will go towards the construction of the vehicle, software used for design, and travel expenses. As of today, they have reached 53% of their goal, and they could use your help! Donate to Sooner Off-Road by visiting their Thousands Strong website: https://thousandsstrong.ou.edu/project/22820

Boomer Rocket Team is a group of multidisciplinary engineering students dedicated to the design, construction, and launch of high powered rockets. BRT hopes to raise $3,000 before their Thousands Strong campaign ends on December 11, 2020, at 11:55 p.m. The money they receive will be used to purchase materials and send students to the Argonia Cup in Kansas. So far, they have reached 54% of their goal, and they need your help! Visit BRT’s Thousands Strong website to donate: https://thousandsstrong.ou.edu/project/22934

Thank you for your support!

Highlighting Dr. Guloglu

Dr. Gorkem Guloglu earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from the University of Oklahoma. He has spent most of his time here researching composite materials with Dr. M. Cengiz Altan. Now, Dr. Guloglu teaches students at the very university from which he earned his degrees.

Before coming to OU, Dr. Guloglu knew that he wanted to come to the United States and work with a great professor. He was fascinated with Dr. Altan, who he says is “famous in composite materials.” Once Dr. Guloglu got here, he “really loved OU because the campus is amazing, the people are amazing, and the research facilities have everything.” He said, “we have the freedom to do anything.”

As a master’s and Ph.D. student, Dr. Guloglu worked with two different types of materials which he combined to get the best advantages. In Dr. Altan’s lab he “worked with polymer and ceramic composites to create a different material.” By manufacturing, characterizing, and evolving the materials, he worked to “create a more strong and resilient material without compromising the weight.”

Currently, he lectures on Statics and Space Sciences & Astrodynamics. His favorite thing about OU is the community. He said he has never seen such dedication from students and faculty to a university anywhere else in the world. Although he’s not working in research right now, he continues to write articles about his past work. In the future, he hopes to do research and teach in Turkey as a faculty member at a prestigious university.

Dr. Guloglu’s passion is research because he loves the “independence of [it]. Contributing to science is what excites [him].” He wants to work with different types of polymers and different aspects of improving the polymer system like electrical applications and battery applications. He says, “the current battery technologies aren’t good enough. We need better technologies in battery and composite materials. [He’s] hoping to find a good technology to improve electric cars.”

If a student is curious about research and wants to improve technology and humanity, Dr. Guloglu believes a Ph.D. program is right for them. He said, “It’s a great opportunity. At OU, we have all the technologies, and we have great professors so they can do almost anything. There’s no limit.”