Mechanical engineering achievements earn ASU professor ASME fellow status

December 7, 2020

Being named a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, or ASME, is a distinction bestowed on only 3% of the organization’s more than 100,000 members. Leila Ladani, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering in the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering at Arizona State University, is now in that select group.

The honor granted by the ASME Committee of Past Presidents recognizes Ladani’s achievements as an educator and researcher in mechanical engineering, as well as her contributions to ASME. ASU Professor Leila Ladani has been named as ASME Fellow Contributions to the engineering of materials and manufacturing processes, and to the education of her students, has earned Fulton Schools professor Leila Ladani high recognition from her professional peers. Photo by Erika Gronek/ASU Download Full Image

Nomination for fellow status requires more than 10 years of membership in ASME and an equally long record of support for its mission and goals.

Ladani joined the ASME in 2005 and has since received the ASME Electronic and Photonic Packaging Division’s Women In Engineering Award and has had key roles on several committees, including serving as chair of the ASME Materials Division, chair of the Subdivision of Electronic Materials and co-chair of the Electronic and Photonic Packaging Subdivision of Emerging Technologies.

Ladani teaches in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, one of the six Fulton Schools, and previously directed The Polytechnic School. She now directs ASU’s Manufacturing Innovation Center, or MAGIC, which focuses on solving manufacturing industry challenges, generating and developing ideas for advances in manufacturing and materials technologies, and training students to become industry leaders, researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs.  

She has been working in the fields of mechanical engineering and manufacturing for more than 20 years and has earned international recognition for her contributions to advances in manufacturing. In addition, she edits the highly rated Elsevier research journal, Materials Science and Engineering: A.

Becoming an ASME Fellow is especially important to her, Ladani said, “because we don’t have many female engineers, especially in mechanical engineering. As a woman and a fellow, you can inspire many young female engineers and students who are working to find a path in this field.”

Ladani is already seeing the productive influence of her most recent recognition.

“It opens opportunities for me to contribute more effectively,” she said. “This is an affirmation of your expertise and the importance of your research and it provides a broader platform for collaboration and impact.”

Ladani’s recently published book, "Additive Manufacturing of Metals: Materials, Processes, Tests, and Standards," explores the potential of innovations in additive manufacturing technology to significantly change the operations of manufacturing industries — enabling devices and systems to be designed and built more efficiently while saving energy in the process, among other advantages.

Ladani has been contributing to that progress — most recently through her work in ASU’s Additive Manufacturing Center — and helping to develop the next generation of professionals in the field through her teaching, both in the classroom and the research lab.

She and her team aspire to make breakthroughs in the development of advanced manufacturing processes to make novel materials designed specifically for precise high-tech applications, including microelectronics, aerospace and biomedical applications.

Ladani has plans to add national research projects to her pursuits, which would provide opportunities for fellow ASU faculty members and students to collaborate with leading engineers and scientists at other prominent institutions.

Longtime colleague and mentor Professor Christine E. Hailey, dean of the College of Science and Engineering at Texas State University, lauds Ladani for the “ingenuity and drive” she has shown throughout her career.

Hailey says Ladani came to ASU primarily because of its culture, “which promotes innovation and access to education for all,” bringing with her the same energy, determination and resilience she has always shown in pursuing her teaching and research goals.

With her long and extensive list of contributions and accomplishments as an educator and a leader in mechanics and manufacturing, Ladani can be expected to build on her record of success, says fellow mechanical engineer Amir Faghri.

Faghri is a Distinguished Professor of Engineering and Distinguished Dean Emeritus of Engineering at the University of Connecticut, where Ladani spent three years on the faculty.

He describes Ladani as “an inspirer, an outstanding teacher and mentor with a deep intellect and an unwavering commitment to her work.”

He notes in particular that her work in modeling and simulation of additive manufacturing processes has been instrumental in adapting this new technology for a number of major companies.

Ladani is one of more than 3,000 ASME members who have attained fellow status since the distinction was established in 1961, joining a list that includes Fulton Schools professors Aditi Chattopadhyay, Marc Mignolet, Hanqing Jiang, T. Agami Reddy and Thomas Sugar, as well as emeritus professors Joseph Davidson, Harold Nelson, Ramendra Roy, Jami Shah and Ronald So.

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


Geological sciences major recognized as fall 2020 Dean’s Medalist

December 7, 2020

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2020 graduates.

Undergraduate Sarah Braunisch is The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences fall 2020 Dean’s Medalist for the School of Earth and Space Exploration and will graduate with a degree in geological sciences.  School of Earth and Space Exploration Dean’s Medalist Sarah Braunisch. Download Full Image

“We congratulate Sarah on this well-deserved honor,” said School of Earth and Space Exploration director Meenakshi Wadhwa. “We are incredibly proud of her achievements, especially given the challenging circumstances that we are in at the present time and look forward to all that she will achieve beyond ASU.”

As a child growing up in Phoenix, Arizona, Braunisch would hike the Phoenix Mountain Preserve and spend hours collecting quartz samples. “I loved the hunt, where there was always the possibility to find something new,” she said.  

After high school, Braunisch attended ASU for a year before she accepted a job in Tokyo as an au pair and personal assistant for an engineer in the oilfield services industry. During her three years in Japan, Braunisch was surrounded by career professionals and that led her, ultimately, to decide that she wanted to return to school to complete a degree. 

With this new realization, Braunisch returned to ASU and enrolled in the School of Earth and Space Exploration as a geological sciences major, and she has not looked back since.

Braunisch found her passion for planetary science when she joined the Christensen Research Group, led by Regents Professor Philip Christensen. There she worked in his lab comparing mineral samples to observations from asteroid and Mars missions. 

“Sarah began working in my research group several years ago. We immediately recognized that she was an outstanding student with a great deal of curiosity, interest, and ability,” said Christensen. “I encouraged her to apply to graduate school at ASU and I’m extremely happy to hear that she has accepted our offer. I am really looking forward to continuing to work with her.”

After graduation, Braunisch will start graduate school in the spring here at ASU to work toward her PhD in geological sciences. 

Question: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: It is easy to pigeonhole yourself into a place where you will miss opportunities because you identify with a particular field or science. When I first attended ASU as an undergraduate student, I was so adamant that I wanted to be a geologist that I ignored the planetary sciences. After getting a job as a spectrometer technician in the Mars Space Flight Facility, I took a related class on remote sensing and infrared spectroscopy. This class changed the course of my undergraduate career and awoke in me a desire to continue in this field.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: Growing up in Phoenix, Arizona, ASU with its strength in the geological sciences was the most logical choice for me.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: While I believe that I learned a lot from every professor I had the opportunity to interact with at ASU, Regents Professor Phil Christensen showed me that while you can be a giant in your field, you can also be humble and kind and listen. It is my goal to continue my education as a graduate student and eventually become an expert in my field, and I hope that in doing so, I will be humble and kind and listen. 

Q: Did you face any challenges to finish your degree in a year with a pandemic? 

A: The pandemic made it hard for me to navigate the loss of opportunity. I planned to spend the summer of 2020 doing geologic mapping in the Himalayas, followed by two months in the Namib desert studying drylands. I was genuinely excited about these opportunities and losing them resulted in a motivational impact on me. To combat this, it has been important for me to focus on what I can do in the meantime and continue to set goals for myself, such as graduating on time and completing my last few classes with excellence.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Do not overthink yourself into self-rejection. There are so many opportunities, especially within the School of Earth and Space Exploration. I recommend getting to know your fellow classmates (graduate, undergraduate, and postdocs) and talking to your professors. I think you will be surprised how far you can get. As people, we are all on equal footing. If I can do it, so can you.

Media Relations and Marketing Manager, School of Earth and Space Exploration