Monday, October 5, 2020

The William States Lee College of Engineering welcomes 12 new faculty members to the fall 2020 semester. With experience and education from some of the finest companies and institutions in the world, these educators bring expertise to our classrooms and laboratories in engineering fields including manufacturing, fire safety, motorsports, robotics, smart infrastructure, mobile sensor networks and more.

Dr. Michael Benjamin             

Assistant Professor, Fire and Safety Engineering Technology (Occupational Safety)
Ph.D. in Industrial Hygiene, University of Cincinnati, 2019 

Dr. Benjamin’s research primarily focuses on exposure to workplace hazards, particularly with chemical exposures in a variety of environmental conditions.

Research interests:

  • Occupational chemical exposures
  • Evaluation of mathematical models to predict chemical exposures
  • Ergonomic stressors
  • Under-represented groups in workplace safety/health training/education
  • Technology use to improve awareness/reach of occupational safety and health topics (i.e. Wikipedia and apps) 


Austin Fifield            

Lecturer, Engineering Technology and Construction Management
​Master of Science in Applied Energy and Electromechanical Systems, UNC Charlotte, 2020

Before joining UNC Charlotte, Mr. Fifield gained experience as an avionics specialist on the U.S. Air Force's F-15E fighter aircraft where he troubleshooted, repaired and tested mission critical avionics systems including radar, navigation, communication and electronic warfare systems. He has worked in industrial automation and volunteers as an engineering mentor for FIRST Robotics.

Academic interests:

  • Robotics
  • Biomechanical controls
  • Automation for industrial solutions


John Wayne Goff

Lecturer, Engineering Technology and Construction Management
M.S. Construction Management, Western Carolina University, 2014

Mr. Goff has 28 years of experience in the commercial construction and facility management industry directly related to the expansion and maintenance of a “Big Box” retail chain. In addition to his commercial construction experience, Mr. Goff has 10 years of facility management experience and was responsible for the preventative, reactive and planned maintenance for more than 700 operating retail locations.

Areas of interest:

  • Pre-construction services
  • Project development and delivery
  • Estimating, civil design and total Cost of ownership


Ronald Graham

Lecturer, Engineering Technology and Construction Management
Master of Engineering in Civil Engineering (water resource focus), Colorado State, 2014

Mr. Graham is a former assistant professor of Civil Engineering at Belmont College, and has experience in water resources and the steel industry.

Research interests:

  • Water infrastructure
  • Water resources planning management
  • Infrastructure development and sustainability


Dr. Charles H. Jenckes

Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Science
Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering, NC State University, 2016

Dr. Jenckes research interests include computational fluid dynamic (CFD) simulation of ground vehicle aerodynamics for motorsports, CFD for compressors, motorsports aerodynamic design, vehicle dynamics, internal combustion (IC) engine development for motorsports, machine learning and artificial intelligence. Prior to joining UNC Charlotte, Dr. Jenckes spent 30 years in professional motorsports working with teams in F1, NASCAR , Land Speed Record, and IMSA/SCCA road racing.

Research interest:

  • CFD for motorsports
  • CFD for compressors
  • Motorsport aerodynamic design
  • Vehicle dynamics
  • IC engine development for motorsport
  • Machine learning and AI


Dr. Bamdad Lessani

Teaching Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Science
Ph.D., Vrije Universiteit Brussel, 2003

Dr. Lessani's research interest is in numerical algorithm and solver development for the simulation of turbulent flows, low-Mach variable density flows, particle/droplet-laden flows, and chemically reacting flows. His academic experiences include post-doc at Universite Catholique de Louvain, assistant professor at Tehran Polytechnic University, and visiting faculty at the University of Toronto. Before joining the UNC Charlotte, he served as an assistant professor at South Dakota School of Mines and technology.

Research interests:

  • Computational fluid dynamics (CFD)
  • Turbulent flow simulation 
  • Large-eddy and direct numerical simulation (LES/DNS)
  • Variable density flows
  • Particle/droplet laden flows
Dr. Dipankar Maity            

Assistant Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering, University of Maryland College Park, 2018

Dr. Maity worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the Aerospace Engineering department at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Dr. Maity's research is in safe and robust autonomy for complex systems. In particular, the foundation of Dr. Maity's research is about developing tools and frameworks to address safety and resiliency issues for current and emerging autonomous systems such as networked-robotics, multi-agent systems, and cyber-physical systems.  

Research interests:

  • Control theory
  • Robotics
  • Formal methods


Dr. Rachael Sherman

Assistant Professor, Engineering Technology and Construction Management
Ph.D. in Civil, Environmental, and Sustainable Engineering
, Arizona State, 2020

Dr. Sherman’s industry experience culminates an overlap of consulting, project management and power utility engineering. In addition to power infrastructure planning and construction, she is passionate about improving how we teach engineering and construction to the next generation of students.

Research interests:

  • Front-end planning for large and small industrial projects
  • Capital planning
  • Power infrastructure planning
  • Power infrastructure resiliency
  • Power infrastructure construction
  • Energy policy
  • Engineering education


Dr. Steven Schmid

Belk-Woodward Distinguished Professor in Engineering
Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Science
h.D. in Mechanical Engineering, Northwestern University, 1993

Dr. Schmid comes to UNC Charlotte from the University of Notre Dame, where he started in 1993 and rose to the position of Professor in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering. Dr. Schmid was the first Faculty Fellow at the Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office in 2012-2013, where he helped develop the Preliminary Design Document for Manufacturing USA Institutes. From 2016 to 2019, Dr. Schmid served as Program Director for Manufacturing Machines and Equipment at the National Science Foundation.

Dr. Schmid is the author of numerous engineering textbooks that incorporate his active learning philosophy. Some of his most popular textbooks, which have been translated into multiple languages and are used throughout the world, include Manufacturing Engineering and Technology; Manufacturing Processes for Engineering Materials; and Fundamentals of Machine Elements, and Fundamentals of Fluid Film Lubrication.

Research interests:

  • Tribology (friction, wear and lubrication) in manufacturing
  • Metal forming
  • Additive manufacturing
  • Orthopedic implant design
  • Safety in mechanical design.


Dr. Elizabeth Smith

Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering Technology 
Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering, North Carolina State University, 2016

Dr. Smith has 15 years of industry experience in modeling and simulation serving government customers. Her research focuses on computational modeling in fluid dynamics, heat transfer, and human physiology.  She also incorporates augmented reality into simulations.

Research interests:

  • Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD)
  • Combining modeling and augmented reality for real-time experiences
  • Human physiology modeling and training applications


Dr. Artur Wolek

Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Science
Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering, Virginia Tech, 2015

Dr. Wolek's research is on enabling autonomous robots and mobile sensor networks to adaptively sense their environment and optimally plan and control their motion under uncertainty and constraints. His research emphasizes field experiments that involve marine or aerial robotic platforms that exploit novel sensing or actuation. Prior to joining UNC Charlotte, Dr. Wolek was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Maryland (2018-2020) and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (2015-2018).

Research interests:

  • Mobile sensor networks
  • Estimation and data fusion
  • Motion planning and control
  • Aerospace and ocean robotics


Dr. Lei Zhu

Assistant Professor, System Engineering and Engineering Management
Ph.D. in Transportation Engineering, University of Arizona, 2014

Before joining UNC Charlotte, Dr. Zhu served as an advanced transportation researcher at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Golden, Colorado. His research encompasses smart infrastructure and mobility systems, spatial sensing technologies.

Research interests: 

  • Smart mobility and spatial sensing (GPS/GIS/LiDAR/camera/radar/drone)
  • Big data and artificial intelligence in transportation
  • Shared and automated mobility and micro-mobility modeling and simulation
  • Transportation sustainability, safety and electrification