UT Names Advanced Manufacturing Expert as Eleventh Governor’s Chair

Sudarsanam Suresh Babu, an authority in the production, design, and performance of transforming materials into parts, has been named the eleventh University of Tennessee–Oak Ridge National Laboratory Governor’s Chair.

Babu will serve as Governor’s Chair for Advanced Manufacturing. He begins on July 1.

Babu, a professor in the Welding Engineering Program in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at The Ohio State University, directed a National Science Foundation Industry and University Cooperative Research center focused on materials joining for energy applications. He joined The Ohio State University faculty in 2007 following several years at the Edison Welding Institute in Columbus, Ohio. Babu has also served in multiple roles at ORNL, including as a post doctoral scholar, research professor, and member of both the research and development staff and the senior research and development staff.

Babu’s research helps widen the scope of advanced manufacturing and additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, which is the process of adding successive layers to make a three-dimensional solid object from a digital model.

“Dr. Babu’s vast experience and expertise in materials science pushes our research into a new forefront,” said Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek. “Through the innovation of materials and their integration into product design, his research has the power to fundamentally change the products we use and how they are made.”

Babu will be a professor based in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering and have a joint professorship with the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. As a Governor’s Chair, he also will have an appointment in the Energy and Environmental Sciences Directorate and in the Energy Material Program at ORNL.

Babu’s research addresses fundamental challenges in bringing additive and other advanced manufacturing concepts into broader production use. Through analysis of materials performance at the atomic scale, he translates this information into models for the aerospace and automotive industries to use on high-performance computers.

“In ten to twenty years, we hope that we will stop worrying about how to manufacture products and instead worry about what to manufacture,” said Babu. “The design of products will become the most important thing.”

As Governor’s Chair, Babu will lead efforts to integrate the advanced manufacturing research and design activities between UT, ORNL, and industry. In collaboration with industry, faculty, students, and researchers at ORNL’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, he will conduct basic and applied research focusing on hybrid composite products, energy-efficient design and development, and understanding a product’s life cycle and the implications of design on the product’s purpose.

Babu received a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the PSG College of Technology in 1986, a master’s degree in technology from the Indian Institute of Technology in 1988, and his doctorate in materials science from Cambridge University.

The UT–ORNL Governor’s Chair Program is funded by the state of Tennessee and ORNL. It is designed to attract exceptionally accomplished researchers from around the world to boost joint research efforts that position the partnership as a leader in the fields of biological science, computational science, advanced materials, and neutron science. Ten of the eleven Governor’s Chairs now have joint appointments at UT Knoxville and ORNL.

Other UT–ORNL Governor’s Chairs include:

  • Jeremy Smith, a computational biologist who came to UT and ORNL from the University of Heidelberg in Germany. He was appointed in 2006.
  • Howard Hall, an expert in nuclear security who came to UT and ORNL from Lawrence Livermore National Lab. He was appointed in 2009.
  • Alexei Sokolov, a polymer scientist who came to UT and ORNL from the University of Akron. He was appointed in 2009.
  • Yilu Liu, an electric grid researcher who came to UT and ORNL from Virginia Tech. She was appointed in 2009.
  • Thomas Zawodzinski, an energy storage researcher who came to UT and ORNL from Case Western Reserve University. He was appointed in 2009.
  • Frank Loeffler, a biologist and environmental engineer who came to UT and ORNL from Georgia Tech. He was appointed in 2009.
  • Robert Williams, a genetics and biomedical researcher who was the Dunavant Chair in the Department of Pediatrics at UT Health Science Center. He was appointed in 2009.
  • William Weber, a materials scientist who came to UT Knoxville and ORNL from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. He was appointed in 2010.
  • Brian Wirth, a radiation expert who came to UT and ORNL from the University of California, Berkeley. He was appointed in 2010.
  • Terry Hazen, an environmental biologist who came to UT and ORNL from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He was appointed in 2011.

C O N T A C T:

Whitney Heins (865-974-5460, wheins@utk.edu)

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