Speed School’s Advanced Manufacturing Chair Professor Rotating to NSF

Sept. 28, 2020


Kevin Chou to Direct NSF’s Advanced Manufacturing Program for Two-Year Term

Kevin Chou to Direct NSF’s Advanced Manufacturing Program for Two-Year Term

Dr. Kevin Chou, Edward R. Clark Chair of Advanced Manufacturing in Speed School’s Industrial Engineering Department, and formerly Director of the Additive Manufacturing Institute of Science and Technology (AMIST) at Speed School, has been selected to serve as a Program Director in the Advanced Manufacturing Program at the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Advanced Manufacturing at NSF is part of the Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation Division in the Engineering Directorate, and, according to Dr. Chou, is a multidisciplinary program. His major role in the position is to set the direction of the Advanced Manufacturing Program, process proposals for merit reviews, and recommend what to fund and determine the research priority. “It is about shaping the future of the advanced manufacturing research landscape,” said Chou.

In addition to proposal processing and grant funding, Dr. Chou’s job will also involve outreach with PIs (Principal Investigators) and prospective PIs interested in the program, as well as with the manufacturing community to solicit input of research needs.

Dr. Kevin Walsh, Associate Dean of the Speed School and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said the NSF took notice of Dr. Chou because he has a track record of being a leader in the field, is respected by his peers, well published, and has a successful history of grant funding, especially with NSF. “You have to check all those boxes to be considered,” he said.

At Speed School, NSF grants currently account for 3.3 million of the 7 million federally funded expenditures for fiscal year 2020.

Dr. Chou’s role in NSF will also include defining and developing funding opportunities in response to policies whether it’s within NSF or the Administration. As advanced manufacturing seeks the integration of interdisciplinary approaches, there are many opportunities to interact with other programs, divisions and directorates. “We work with colleagues across the agency to develop synergy to innovate manufacturing advancement,” he said. “For example, machine learning, artificial intelligence research deals with big data and has potential impacts on advanced manufacturing research.”

In his two years with NSF, Dr. Chou said he hopes to “grow research and build bridges in the advanced manufacturing field, align the program with the need in the industry and U.S., and make connections with others in the field both inside and outside NSF to collaboratively paint the vision of advanced manufacturing with broader reach into different areas.”

Associate Dean Walsh said Chou’s selection is an honor and brings visibility to the field and to Speed School.

“This is a great recognition individually as well as for the university,” he said. “NSF has recognized some accomplished researchers here, and Professor Chou will be an integral player in determining the vision for advanced manufacturing. When he comes back to Speed School, he can make sure we’re aware of all the competitive grant opportunities available through NSF, or make suggestions to the Dean on where the field is going for future hires,” he said. “Just the fact that he’s going to get this first-hand inside view of how the agency works will be very valuable in the future,” said Walsh.

Dr. Chou said his interest in the NSF program director role was driven by wanting to learn more about manufacturing science research both within his area of expertise and beyond. In addition, he said, “we all want to make a difference and this is a great chance for me to advocate for the manufacturing research community and set the direction of advanced manufacturing research to be ready for the industry of the future.” Further, Dr. Chou noted, “My research has been largely supported by NSF and now it is my turn to serve and be a factor to the manufacturing research community,” he said.

As a full-time federal employee, Dr. Chou is considered a “rotator” and located at NSF headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia for his two-year term. While he is on leave from the university, NSF has provisions for rotators to continue research at their home institution so Dr. Chou will maintain his research activities at UofL and stay in contact with students and colleagues during his tenure at NSF.

Dr. Chou is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, (ASME), for which he led the Technical Program of its International Manufacturing Science and Engineering Conference in 2011 and served as the Chair of its Manufacturing Engineering Division (Jan. 2018 – Jun. 2019). From 2014 – 2015, he was the Assistant Director for Technology in the Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office, supporting the Manufacturing USA initiative.

His research and teaching interests include design and manufacturing, metrology and materials, etc., with recent focus on metal additive manufacturing. Dr. Chou is also the 2016 recipient of the Dick Aubin Distinguished Paper Award from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME).