Cai selected as standout manufacturing engineer by SME


Prof. Lili Cai has won a 2023 Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award from SME for her work to bridge thermal science, nanotechnology and material manufacturing.

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Lili CaiMechSE Professor Lili Cai is one of this year’s recipients of the 2023 SME Delcie R. Durham Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award.  The honor recognizes manufacturing engineers, age 35 or younger, who have made exceptional contributions and accomplishments in the manufacturing industry.

The 18 awardees were selected based on their diverse manufacturing backgrounds, technology advancements or improvements and state-of-the-art research. The 2023 award namesake is longtime SME member Delcie R. Durham, PhD, FSME, PE, a professor emerita in the University of South Florida's Department of Mechanical Engineering. Durham’s research has focused on environmentally benign design and manufacturing, with a particular emphasis on sustainable product realization through the total product lifecycle.

Cai’s research is focused on bridging thermal science, nanotechnology and material manufacturing to advance energy and wearable applications. She has focused on inventing nano-manufacturing techniques to enable scalable production of functional nanomaterials, and using them to advance practical applications of wearable and energy technologies. Her work has significant impacts on a wide variety of fields, ranging from thermal management, to smart wearables, to solar fuel generation, and next-generation electronic devices.

Cai’s other recent awards include the MIT Technology Review’s 35 Under 35 list in 2020, the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund Doctoral New Investigator Award in 2022, and the National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2022.

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This story was published April 16, 2023.