Yisha Xiang received the National Science Foundation's CAREER Award for her work on enhancing the environmental and economic sustainability of additive manufacturing-based remanufacturing.
Yisha Xiang, an assistant professor in Texas Tech University's Department of Industrial, Manufacturing & Systems Engineering in the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering, received the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) Award for her work on enhancing the environmental and economic sustainability of additive manufacturing-based remanufacturing.
The NSF CAREER Award is the most prestigious award in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through research, education and the integration of the two within the context of the mission of their organizations. It also comes with a monetary grant, of which Xiang received $500,000.
"It's definitely exciting to receive the CAREER Award," Xiang said. "I believe this is a very important project that can create a new field in the remanufacturing industry. Right now, many people look at remanufacturing from a material perspective, a manufacturing technology perspective or from a testing perspective, but only a few have looked into improving the operations. I'm just thrilled we got funding to do important research."
Al Sacco Jr., dean of the College of Engineering, said Xiang's work may potentially transform the remanufacturing process.
"Dr. Xiang is one of our experts in the emerging field of remanufacturing," Sacco said. "Her research is both innovative and creative. If successful, it could very well revolutionize the way remanufacturing is done worldwide. We are very excited for her and also very proud of her accomplishment. It is not a surprise though; over the nine years I have been at Texas Tech, the faculty we have hired are among the best in the world. Dr. Xiang is right at the top of that list."
Additive manufacturing (AM) has emerged as a critical technology for remanufacturing in the past decade; it provides unprecedented capabilities for remanufacturing that can't be achieved with traditional manufacturing counterparts.
However, remanufacturing with additive manufacturing (RwAM) imposes critical operational challenges. Current RwAM practices mainly concerns end-of-life products, many of which are no longer able to be remanufactured due to severe damage. Moreover, the expansion of RwAM is significantly limited due to the high cost of AM equipment, which affects small-sized companies that make up the majority of remanufacturing needs.
There is a lack of integrated knowledge that can aid in planning, controlling, and managing of RwAM operations. Xiang's research aims to improve the environmental and economic sustainability by creating new decision models and algorithms for remanufacturing operations.
"Big companies lack manufacturing capacity, so we want to match them with smaller, more mid-sized companies that want to do remanufacturing," Xiang said. "We want to see how we can help the balance with optimization matching, sort of like a rideshare, so more companies can be part of this so it can benefit the industry as a whole."
Xiang said she hopes her research will produce new models, methods and algorithms that companies can use to assess the condition of damaged products to determine how to optimally plan their remanufacturing practices.
Xiang also would like to recognize those who made this CAREER Award possible.
"My students have worked with me, so this is a team effort," she said. "My family has really supported me, and my department and the College of Engineering have all supported me. My greatest appreciation to all of them."