In acknowledgement of his commitment to developing a culturally and ethnically diverse campus community, ME Professor Elijah Kannatey-Asibu has been selected to receive the 2010 Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award.
Kannatey-Asibu is one of six faculty members chosen in recognition of their efforts to foster diversity at the University and to enhance the success of minority students. Recipients of the award receive $5,000 to further their research and scholarship opportunities.
In his letter of nomination for Kannatey-Asibu, ME Professor Albert Shih wrote, "I have been amazed by the enthusiasm and dedication that Elijah has shown towards outreach and diversity activities."
As associate director of education for the Engineering Research Center for Reconfigurable Manufacturing Systems, Kannatey-Asibu has been involved in a number of activities to promote diversity on campus. His work with NSF's Research Experiences for Undergraduates program helped bring underrepresented students and women from universities all over the country to work on research projects within the UM environment. As a result, CoE was able to recruit many of the students who participated in REU to continue their graduate studies at the University. Another program Kannatey-Asibu has been engaged in is the Tribal Colleges and Universities Program, also funded by NSF, which aims to enhance the quality of science, technology, engineering and mathematics instructional and outreach programs at tribal colleges and universities, Alaska native-serving institutions and native Hawaiian-serving institutions.
Kannatey-Asibu initiated the Portable Manufacturing Systems Project, whose goal is to introduce middle-school and high-school students to manufacturing. The project involves taking a small manufacturing unit consisting of computer numerically controlled lathe and milling machines, as well as a computer equipped with CAD software, to a variety of classrooms in the area. Students are then given the opportunity to create a simple design and have it produced on either the lathe or milling machine.
"Given the fact that having such facilities would be expensive for many schools, this was a cost-effective way to expose young kids to engineering and get them excited about STEM fields," wrote Shih of the project in his nomination letter.
As further evidence of his commitment to engineering education, especially among minority students in area schools, Kannatey-Asibu has been an active participant in the Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP). "DAPCEP's mission is to help underrepresented students who have the aptitude and the desire to get into the sciences and engineering," he explained.Kannatey-Asibu served as the ME representative for the program, which brought students to the CoE for five Saturdays during the spring to introduce them to engineering concepts. Finally, he acts as the faculty advisor for Unified Minority Mechanical Engineers, a group dedicated to creating a comfortable environment within the ME department for underrepresented minority students.
In addition to his efforts toward enhancing on-campus diversity, Kannatey-Asibu is considered one of the leading manufacturing researchers in the country. Currently, his research interests focus on three primary areas. First, he is working on the development of technologies for real-time monitoring of manufacturing processes in order to detect faults as they occur.
"We try to enhance the ability to detect faults by using multiple sensors and taking advantage of the strength of the various sensors to enable us to more effectively monitor the process," he explained.
Second, he is investigating femtosecond lasers for use in microfabrication. A femtosecond laser's ultra short pulse duration and its consequent high intensity make it convenient for processing. Kannatey-Asibu's research looks at how these lasers can be used in two-photon polymerization to produce micron-sized polymer-based components.
Finally, his recent work with General Motors involves modeling and simulation of the joining process for individual battery cells to enable an entire module to be used effectively in a vehicle. His research with real-time monitoring is being applied in this area to detect any defects that might occur during the process. Kannatey-Asibu's research efforts in these fields have culminated in a book published recently by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. entitled Principles of Laser Materials Processing.