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UH Mānoa College of Engineering Assistant Professor Tyler Ray

A University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Engineering faculty member presented his latest research in emerging facets of 3D printing in front of a group of international experts as part of the National Academy of Engineering’s The Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering program. Assistant Professor Tyler Ray became the first researcher from Hawaiʻi to participate in the program’s 28-year history.

Sixty highly accomplished early-career engineers from companies, universities, and government labs in the U.S. and China met July 18–20 to discuss leading-edge research and technical work across a range of engineering fields as part of the China-America Frontiers of Engineering Symposium. Selected by the United States National Academy of Engineering and the Chinese Academy of Engineering, participants are challenged to think about developments and problems at the forefront of areas different from their own to foster collaboration, share new techniques and approaches across fields, and facilitate international cooperation and understanding among the next generation of engineering leaders.

Participants in the U.S. gathered at the Beckman Center of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering in Irvine, California, and participants in China met at the Chinese Academy of Engineering Headquarters in Beijing. Each group met for activities at their host institution and then engaged virtually in bilateral discussions with their counterparts across the Pacific.

Among the topics discussed included the latest developments of cutting-edge engineering technology in the following areas:

  • Wearable electronics and human health
  • Additive manufacturing and beyond
  • Water sustainability
  • Food safety in the context of big data and genomics

Ray’s presentation, one of the eight from the U.S. delegation, was featured in the “Additive Manufacturing and Beyond” session. Additive manufacturing methods (3D printing) are rapidly evolving to produce end-use products at industrial scales with profound implications for the future of manufacturing. Ray presented a roadmap for harnessing emerging additive manufacturing methods to print functional materials with new types of properties, including electrical, optical and thermal. These materials could be useful for applications spanning from energy storage, such as ultra-small, powerful batteries, to food, for example in 3D-printed plant-based steaks.

“As engineers, we seek solutions to some of the most challenging problems facing our global, interconnected society. This was an incredible opportunity to discuss the challenges and opportunities within the additive manufacturing field with a diverse audience of some of the brightest engineering minds in China and the U.S.,” Ray said.

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Ray was a 2022 recipient of the UH Mānoa Faculty Award for Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research and Creative Work. The award recognizes up to two tenured/tenure-track faculty mentors each academic year who have shown dedicated and sustained excellence in faculty mentoring of undergraduate students in their research and creative work endeavors.

—By Marc Arakaki

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