Three University of Utah College of Engineering faculty members were awarded the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) award for 2019, which supports “early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.”

Each of the grants is for $500,000 or more over five years.

Owen Kingstedt (Mechanical Engineering Assistant Professor)

If you bend, say, a paper clip repeatedly back and forth, the point where it bends will become hot. Kingstedt will examine the fundamental processes which convert the work that went into bending the paper clip into heat. Scientists do not have a very good grasp of the root cause of why some materials convert work to heat more efficiently than others.

Kingstedt’s research group will use experiments to study how magnesium alloys heat up when they are deformed over just a few milliseconds. Based on his findings, he hopes to better predict material performance during rapid events such as high-speed machining, ballistic impact or a vehicle crash.

This research could benefit car manufacturers, for example. By using magnesium alloys in place of aluminum alloys, car companies might be able to reduce vehicle weight, which would lead to improved fuel efficiency, reduced emissions and consumer savings at the pump.

Kingstedt joined the U in 2016. He received a bachelors in mechanical engineering from Michigan Technological University and a master’s and doctorate in aerospace engineering, both from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

“It feels fantastic to receive this award and be recognized by the NSF,” Kingstedt said. “I believe this award is a reflection of the department’s excellent research efforts aimed at tackling important fundamental basic science questions, as well as the strong mentorship we have.”
“Being a mechanics-of-materials experimentalist is the best job in the world. Daily, students in my lab perform experiments where we pull, push, or twist materials to the point of failure. We then investigate what nanoscale processes and microstructural features governed the observed material behavior. By better understanding what processes dictate material behavior we can improve material selection and design to achieve improved performance in engineering applications.”
“In a nutshell, when a material deforms quickly, the heat generated during deformation remains localized. These local hot-spots can influence how and when the material fails. Knowledge of heat generation processes will have direct impacts on the complete life cycle of transportation vehicles beginning with high-speed machining of structural components, to designing crashworthy structures, and finally by light-weighting vehicles to improve fuel efficiency.”

To learn more about Kingstedt and his research visit the High Strain-Rate Mechanics of Materials Laboratory.

The other two recipients within the College of Engineering are Michael Hoepfner (Chemical Engineering Assistant Professor) and Jessica Kramer (Biomedical Engineering Assistant Professor).