Two Leaders In U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Join ORNL 141

Two Leaders In U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Join ORNL

SME is happy to announce that two SME members, and leaders in U.S. manufacturing innovation, 2018 SME President Thomas Kurfess, PhD, FSME, PE, and Scott Smith, PhD, FSME, are joining the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory to support its pioneering research in advanced manufacturing.


Kurfess and Smith’s expertise in control systems and machine tooling expand the capabilities of DOE’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL, and their broad experience with industry, academia and the public sector will enhance lab partnerships and promote adoption of new technologies by US manufacturers.

“We’re pleased to welcome these industry leaders to our advanced manufacturing team,” ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia said. “ORNL has been at the forefront of rapid advances in manufacturing technology, and Drs. Kurfess and Smith will lead critical programs in advanced manufacturing, automation, and robotics that support the lab’s mission of delivering scientific and technical solutions to national challenges.”

Kurfess will spearhead the development of new manufacturing platforms and control systems that will enable autonomous manufacturing through robotics and controls. He comes to ORNL from the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he is the HUSCO/Ramirez distinguished chair in fluid power and motion control and professor of mechanical engineering. He also served as assistant director for advanced manufacturing at the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President of the United States, where he was responsible for engaging the federal sector and scientific community on advanced manufacturing policy.

“I look forward to joining the team at ORNL in creating, implementing and scaling next-generation technologies to move the U.S. manufacturing base forward,” Kurfess said. “With the facilities and personnel at ORNL, we will be second to none and ensure the leadership of the US in manufacturing for generations to come. It is both exciting and an honor to be on such an amazing team.”

Kurfess also serves on the boards of directors of the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining and the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences. He is on the board of trustees for the MT Connect Institute and is the 2018 president of SME. He will also serve on the board of governors for ASME starting in 2019. In addition to being an SME Fellow, Kurfess is also a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Smith, professor and chair of mechanical engineering at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, will lead ORNL’s advanced machining and machine tool research, focused on developing the systems, processes, sensors and controls needed to reinvigorate the U.S. industrial base and bolster national security. Smith was recently honored by ASME with the William T. Ennor Manufacturing Technology Award for his “innovations in the field of machining dynamics that have been commercially implemented, leading to significant improvements in machine tool performance and enabling the creation of thin monolithic machined structures in a variety of industries."

For Smith, who grew up in Tennessee, this new opportunity is also a homecoming. “I am excited about returning home to work at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, building research and development capabilities in machining and machine tools,” Smith said. “I hope to add a powerful new dimension to the strong manufacturing expertise already in place at ORNL."

Smith’s teaching and research areas include high-speed machining, process optimization and machine dynamics. Prior to his work at the University of North Carolina and joining ORNL, Smith served as the assistant director for technology at the US Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office. He holds 11 patents and is one of 17 U.S. fellows of the International Academy for Production Engineering (CIRP). He is a fellow of both SME and ASME.

The Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL is supported by the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Advanced Manufacturing Office. AMO supports early-stage research to advance innovation in U.S. manufacturing and promote American economic growth and energy security.

UT-Battelle manages ORNL for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the U.S. and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit
Blog SME Connect Blog 11/29/2018 11:22am EST