Carnegie Mellon University April 26 announced that Department of Mechanical Engineering assistant professor B. Reeja Jayan has won a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Program, or CAREER, Award.
With the award, the Indian American researcher will study the potential of 3-D printed ceramics, according to a university news report.
The award, including $500,000 in research funding, is given to a faculty member in the early stages of their career with a proven potential to be a leader in their field and to integrate their research into novel educational opportunities.
The focus of Jayan's most recent work is researching how electromagnetic waves may be used to alter the structure within ceramic materials, potentially enabling the 3-D printing of ceramics, the university said.
The development of ceramic 3-D printing has lagged behind that of other materials, such as polymers or metals. Traditional ceramic manufacturing uses large amounts of energy, often requiring materials to be heated at extremely high temperatures, it said.
Jayan said she hopes to instead use electromagnetic waves, such as those microwaves use to heat food, to induce changes within ceramics at the structural level. If successful, she could potentially be able to achieve the same quality of results as current manufacturing methods — at a fraction of the energy cost, according to the report.
3-D printed ceramic parts could find use in sustainable infrastructure, transportation, clean energy, water management, aerospace engineering and healthcare, CMU noted in its report.
By combining research in the fields of electrical and computer engineering, electromagnetics, materials science, mechanical engineering and chemical engineering, the process Jayan is developing could provide a low-energy means to meet these industries' demands for lightweight, high-strength materials, according to the report.
In the past, Jayan has received media attention for being among the first to fully integrate the popular open-world game, Minecraft, into a university-level engineering course. She plans to continue using "builder's games" like Minecraft to teach students how building can change the way materials assemble and alter the properties of the material, CMU said.
"Games create a higher level of student engagement and a more stimulating learning environment, reaching a broader spectrum of learners in the classroom," Jayan said in the report.
In addition to her role as assistant professor, Jayan holds courtesy appointments in Materials Science and Engineering and Chemical Engineering departments at Carnegie Mellon.
Jayan received her M.S. in electrical engineering and doctorate in materials science and engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. She was subsequently a postdoctoral associate in chemical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.