Wenchao Zhou, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and holder of the Twenty-First Century Professorship in Mechanical Engineering, has recently received the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award from Oak Ridge Associated Universities. This award provides seed money for research by junior faculty members, and it is intended to enrich the research and professional growth of young faculty.
“This award is an honor for Dr. Zhou and for the College of Engineering,” said John English, dean of the College of Engineering. “He is doing very promising work in manufacturing, which is not only one of our emerging research areas, but also an important focus for the country as a whole. Dr. Zhou is working in a field that could change the face of manufacturing in the U.S., and it’s exciting to see that national organizations such as ORAU recognize the value of his research.”
Zhou’s research focuses on new technology and applications for additive manufacturing, commonly known as 3D printing. In addition to investigating new additive manufacturing technology, Zhou is also looking at technology he refers to as “4D printing.” Zhou is working toward technology that could produce humanlike robots printed from soft, responsive materials. These “soft robots” could adjust to stimuli, making them able to handle change and uncertainty more easily than traditional robots.