The Department of MechE would like to honor our Asian-American and Pacific Islander students, current faculty and alumni during AAPI Heritage Month. Get to know what this month means to them, what got them interested in MechE, and what advice they have to share. Join us in celebrating these Lehigh Engineers.

Arindam Banerjee

Name: Arindam Banerjee

Education: I received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Jadavpur University, Calcutta, India, in 1999. After my undergraduate degree, I worked for a year at Tata Motors in Jamshedpur before coming to the U.S. for graduate school. I received an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne, FL, in 2002. I then moved to Texas A&M University in College Station, TX, where I received my Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering in 2006. I then worked for a year and a half at Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico, in their Computational Physics Group before taking a faculty position. 

Where are you from, and where do you currently reside?

I am from Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), India. It is the third-largest city in India and is on the banks of the Hooghly River. I currently reside in Bethlehem Township, PA.

What is your current professional position?

I am currently a Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics at Lehigh University.

What are some courses you teach at Lehigh?

During my time at Lehigh, I have taught undergraduate fluid mechanics (ME231), advanced fluid mechanics (ME331), and renewable energy (ME364/464). In addition, I have also taught graduate-level courses in unsteady and turbulent flows (ME424) and measurements in fluid mechanics (ME450). 

Tell us about your research interests.

My current research interests include marine renewable energy (tidal and wave energy harvesting) with emphasis on energy-water nexus, fluid dynamics in extreme environments (hydrodynamic instabilities in inertial confinement fusion), and computational pulmonary flows (drug delivery in human lungs under different mechanical ventilation conditions).

How did you first get interested mechanical engineering?

In India, one has to take a very competitive entrance exam where less than 1% of the students get selected to study engineering. I was one of the few fortunate ones to make that list, and at the onset, the choice was between mechanical engineering and electrical engineering. I have always been fascinated with automobiles and aircraft and so was inclined to mechanical engineering. 

Tell us about your experiences as a STEM professional.  What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of and what do you hope to accomplish in the future?

In my academic career, I have focused on problems related to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges as well as the United National Sustainable Development Goals. In my role as a researcher (both as a student and as a university professor), I have worked with STEM professionals ranging from entrepreneurs to nuclear physicists to emergency room physicians. Working with such a vast range of individuals has given me exposure to working on problems ranging from basic science discovery to commercialization of products. Working on complex multidisciplinary projects allows me to look at societal problems from a broader perspective. I am proud of the numerous research accomplishments of my students and the highly competitive federal research funding we have been received over the years. However, my proudest achievement to date is receiving the Outstanding Doctoral Student Advising Award from the College of Engineering at Lehigh. This is a student-nominated award, and I was humbled to receive it from my graduate students. 

From July 1 of this year, I start my role as the department chair of Mechanical Engineering & Mechanics (MEM) at Lehigh.  Our department is nationally known as a premier institution in engineering education and research. Our students are recognized for their solid background in mechanical engineering fundamentals, hands-on approach to solving complex problems, and strong work ethics. I envision building on MEM's strong reputation and firmly establish the department as one of the top M.E. departments in the country. Several strategic initiatives will be pursued in collaboration with MEM faculty, students, staff, and campus leadership and will focus on (a) recruiting tenure-track faculty in areas of growth and strategic research interests of societal and national needs; (b) facilitating faculty participation in the development of large research programs in collaboration with Lehigh's Interdisciplinary Research Institutes; (c) making curricular changes with an emphasis on integration across the curriculum; (d) remain committed to the principles of equity, diversity, and broadening participation and enable the faculty and students to succeed in their research and educational endeavors; and, (e) increase student diversity and quality by increasing the pool of students interested in MEM at Lehigh through expanded outreach efforts.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Make your life count, and the world will be a better place because you tried. There is no set blueprint in life that you need to follow. You go through different experiences to help shape and understand the difference between what your skills are, what you love to do, and what drives you. It is okay to make mistakes and to come up short; however, you must learn from your mistakes.  

What does AAPI Heritage Month mean to you? 

Asian Americans have played a significant role in the creation of a dynamic and pluralistic America, with their enormous contributions to our science, arts, industry, government, and commerce. The AAPI Heritage Month is an opportunity to celebrate its contributions to modern American society. It is great that we can all come together and celebrate our history and all of the Asian excellence that has occurred in the United States throughout the years.

 
Subhrajit Bhattacharya

Name: Subhrajit Bhattacharya

Education: 

B.Tech, Mechanical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur, India, 2002-2006.

M.S.+ Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA, 2006-2012.

Where are you from, and where do you currently reside?

I grew up in the city of Kolkata in the state of West Bengal in India. I completed my bachelors degree from IIT Kharagpur. I came to the U.S.A. in 2006 and lived in Philadelphia until 2016, where I completed my M.S. and Ph.D. degrees, and was then a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. Since 2016 I have been an assistant professor at Lehigh University and have been residing in the Lansdale/Hatfield region of Pennsylvania.

What is your current professional position? 

I am currently an assistant professor in the department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics of Lehigh University.

What are some courses you teach at Lehigh?

I teach Mech 102 (Dynamics), which is an undergraduate course, as well as two graduate courses: Mech 425 (Analytical Methods in Dynamics and Vibrations) and ME 450 (Robot Motion Planning and Control).

Tell us about your research interests.

My research interests are centered around planning and control algorithms for autonomous, intelligent systems. More specifically, I am interested in applications of topological and geometric methods (algebraic/differential topology, differential/discrete geometry) to the design and analysis of algorithms in robot motion planning, coverage, sensor networks, distributed systems and control.

How did you first get interested in mechanical engineering?

From childhood I was fascinated by physics, and in particular, Newtonian mechanics. I wanted to pursue career in a field with real-world applications of mechanics. Complex dynamical systems such as robots fascinated me. Mechanical Engineering was thus the obvious choice that would have allowed me to pursue a career in dynamics and controls in which Newtonian mechanics is a foundational pillar. During my graduate studies I got introduced to the rich mathematical world of algebraic and differential topology. These formed the foundations to my current research interests in the area of robotics within the field of mechanical engineering.

Tell us about your experiences as a STEM professional.  What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of and what do you hope to accomplish in the future?

As a STEM researcher the experience that I enjoy most is the process of discovery. The joy of finding something for the first time (in my area of research this is most often algorithms along with theoretical properties) and being able to share that with the world (through publications) is, I believe, the most exciting part of being in STEM research. Being in STEM also means learning, reading, and expanding my horizon everyday. Helping students find the joy of learning and discovery is also something that I enjoy thoroughly. Over the years, the advances made in my field by my students and myself are most certainly the main sources of my pride. Also the fact that I have been able to transfer some of my knowledge to the next generation of STEM researchers, and the thought of the possibilities that they can create using that knowledge, is very exciting to me. I hope to keep pushing the boundaries of scholastic research and discoveries within and around the fringes of my primary field, and build a strong, globally-acclaimed research group here at Lehigh University.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I will inform him that the depth and breadth of human knowledge is most certainly vaster that he thinks, and it will likely be so forever. Never be complacent about what you know. Expand your boundaries of understanding by learning more and reading more. Every now-and-then you’ll come across a gem that will define you, transform you or become an integral part of who you are moving forward.

What does AAPI Heritage Month mean to you? 

Connecting to my roots as an Indian and a Bengali (that’s the name of the ethnic group from the region in and around the state of West Bengal and the country of Bangladesh) is something that I try to do every now-and-then. Bengalis have a strong cultural heritage with an unique repertoire of music, poetry, literature and arts, which has always greatly influenced me and defined me as a person. I hope AAPI Heritage month helps shine light on all the amazingly diverse and rich cultural backgrounds that we come from.

 
Deliya Kim '21 PhD

Name: Deliya Kim

Education: PhD in Mechanical Engineering (exp. May 2021); MSc in Aerospace Engineering (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, 2017); BEng in Aerospace Engineering (Queen Mary University of London, 2014).

Where are you from?

Almaty, Kazakhstan

What is your favorite part about being a Lehigh engineer?

An opportunity to meet and connect with great people. 

How did you first get interested in mechanical engineering?

I loved math and physics since high school, and I wanted to do something that combines both. I was also amazed and intrigued with airplanes, spacecraft, and spaceflights.

What else are you involved with at Lehigh outside of course work?

I am involved with the Swing dance club, the Women in Science and Engineering, and liked to play squash in the Taylor gym (pre-Covid).

Tell us about any teachers or mentors who have inspired you to get where you are today.

My undergraduate tutor and supervisor Dr Eldad Avital inspired me with his passion for the research. Before my 3rd year of study, Dr Avital offered me a summer research project in aeroacoustics that I continued later as a final year undergraduate degree project. I was very excited with it and wanted to be involved more in the research field.

What are your plans for after graduation?

I will start a job in Kazakhstan. 

What does AAPI Heritage Month mean to you?

It means diversity and remembrance of my ancestors. It is an opportunity to be reminded and be thankful to my ancestors for the life I have today.

 
Durlav Mudbhari '15 BS, '17 MS

Name: Durlav Mudbhari

Education: 

MS Mechanical Engineering ‘17

BS Mechanical Engineering ‘15

BS Economics (IBE) ‘15

Lehigh University

Where are you from, and where do you currently reside?

I’m originally from a small town in Nepal named Birgunj. I now live in Savannah, Georgia.

What is your current professional position? 

Currently, I work as a stress/structures engineer at Gulfstream Aerospace supporting the design, engineering and structural certification of the G500/G600/G700 Gulfstream aircraft

How did you first get interested in mechanical engineering?

Growing up in Nepal, we experienced a lot of power outages due to low power supply. During summer nights of power outages, my family and I would spend a lot of time relaxing on our rooftops stargazing. The starlit sky always amazed me as a kid and even more, I loved spotting satellites and airplanes, almost like a game. The blinking airplanes and the non-blinking satellites zipping through the night sky really piqued my interest in space, and the science/engineering involved to get high up there, early on.

Tell us about your experiences as a STEM professional.  What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of and what do you hope to accomplish in the future?

My experience as a STEM professional has been very rewarding. I have been lucky enough to try out two different Mechanical Engineering career paths (Design Engineer and Structures Engineer) within the last five years in the Aerospace industry. These two roles have truly given me an appreciation for the amount of STEM and non-STEM effort that goes into designing and mass-producing safe aircraft. 

One of the things I am very proud of during my professional career involves a story of process improvement at my workplace. In my previous team, there weren’t many engineers who were familiar with the implementation of programming, even though they knew its potential. Since my team and I were heavy Excel users, I decided to learn Excel VBA (as I was only familiar with Python and MATLAB in school) in a matter of about a week. I was then able to implement automation to numerous manual processes. This effort saved my employer over $100,000 a year in cost savings, and I was awarded for it. This also set the tone for conversations regarding use of automation to automate much of data processing and handling that my team, and I went on to continue building even more tools as side projects.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Be kinder to yourself and take care of your physical and mental health because health truly is the biggest wealth.

What does AAPI Heritage Month mean to you? 

For me, AAPI Heritage month is about taking pride in who I am and celebrating my cultural heritage. It’s also a time to celebrate and appreciate the vast cultural and linguistic diversity within the AAPI community itself and the enrichment it brings to the social fabric of this nation.