Skip to main content

Engineering academics and practitioners from around the world convened at a six-day virtual workshop recently hosted by the University of Central Florida’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and sponsored by the National Science Foundation. More than 230 people from institutions and agencies such as Cornell University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Georgia Institute of Technology, the Office of Naval Research, the Department of Energy and Ozyegin University in Turkey, were in attendance.

“We were extremely pleased with the turnout. Every session were well attended,” said Yoav Peles, chair of the MAE department and the main organizer of the event. “More importantly, the level of excitement and energy that was displayed by the participants, moderators, and panelists was evident throughout the workshop.”

The theme of the workshop was thermal transport, or the process of heat transfer, which is prevalent in many engineering applications such as electronics, energy and manufacturing. Individuals from both academia and the industry were brought together to discuss the challenges in this area and to determine where future research should be focused.

“To a large extent, the heat transfer scientific community is comprised of individuals, or small groups, working in silos or at least not in a harmonious manner,” Peles said. “We sought to better educate academicians about industrial and government needs and to help develop a loosely defined shared vision about research direction pertinent to thermal transport for the next decade or so.”

About the Workshop

The event took place via Zoom over two separate weeks in December 2020 and January 2021. Attendees could choose to attend all or some of the six sessions, which focused on topics such as energy, thermal management, and health and sustainability. Panelists included:

• Evelyn Wang — Head of the mechanical engineering department at MIT
• Karen Thole — Chair of the mechanical engineering department at Penn State
• Michael Ohadi — Program director for the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency — Energy
• Mark Spector —Program Director, Office of Naval Research
• Howard Stone — Chair of mechanical and aerospace Engineering at Princeton University
• Sumanta Acharya— Chair of mechnical and aerospace engineering at Illinois Institute of Technology
• Esther Beltran — Chief scientist for human exploration at UCF’s Florida Space Institute

The workshop took more than a year to produce due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was originally scheduled as an in-person event in March 2020, but was re-organized into a virtual conference by Peles and his co-organizers, Professor Jonathan Malen from Carnegie Mellon University and Professor Xiulin Ruan from Purdue University.

The next steps for the workshop moderators and participants is to write articles for a special issue of the Journal of Heat Transfer, due out later this year.

To view the videos of the panelist presentations, visit the workshop website or the MAE YouTube channel.