Betelhiem Mengesha Receives NSF Graduate Fellowship

news story image

Betelhiem Mengesha

Mechanical engineering doctoral student Betelhiem Mengesha was recently awarded a 2024 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship. The prestigious five-year fellowship provides three years of financial support inclusive of an annual stipend to help fund her research on heat exchanger (HX) design optimization for metal additive manufacturing (AM) and qualification. 

“This fellowship is very important to me as it acknowledges my hard work and inspires me to aim higher,” says Mengesha, a first-year doctoral student, who is co-advised by two University of Maryland mechanical engineering professors, Vikrant Aute, who leads the Center for Environmental Energy Engineering (CEEE) Modeling and Optimization Consortium, and Shapour Azarm, director of the Design Decision Support Lab. 

Mengesha’s research addresses the need for an optimized HX design that leverages AM processes, while ensuring required quality control measures. Colloquially known as 3D printing, AM offers “the ability to produce complex customized designs,” says Mengesha, “while its drawback is that the quality of manufactured products cannot be foreseen.” She plans to create a holistic digital twin that integrates HX design optimization with the AM process and a qualification with a feedback system that works iteratively until the part is qualified. 

 “Even though this project focuses on HX, the framework is expected to be general and can be used for any other designs and AM processes,” the doctoral student notes. “It has the potential to shift paradigms in AM part qualification and reliability for aerospace, defense, automotive, medical devices and the energy sector, to name a few, with potential availability of produced parts anywhere and anytime.”

 NSF’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program aims to broaden participation of the full spectrum of diverse talents in STEM.  “As a first-generation Black woman in engineering, I am determined to inspire and mentor younger generations to embrace science and engineering,” says Mengesha, who aspires to pursue a career in academia as a researcher and teacher. “Receiving this award marks a significant milestone in my academic journey,” she says, “and I am deeply grateful for the opportunity it presents.”

Published May 23, 2024