SME, the professional association committed to advancing manufacturing and developing a skilled workforce, has established Zhenyu “James” Kong, professor in Virginia Tech’s Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering within the College of Engineering, as a leader in the field.

A member of the Virginia Tech community since 2013, Kong focuses his research on sensing and data analytics for smart manufacturing, with additional focus on manufacturing processes, quality control, and reliability engineering. Given the advances in analytics and sensors, as well as the advent of Industry 4.0, his research is of particular relevance to industry and to the future of the profession.  

SME identified 20 academics who are educating and shaping the next generation of engineers and smart manufacturing technologists across a diverse range of disciples. All were selected with the help of industry peers and manufacturing experts by SME Media’s Smart Manufacturing magazine.

These educators are teaching smart manufacturing methods and technologies that are being developed today for use tomorrow, both here, and if one honoree has his way, on other planets. Most want to utilize smart technologies on earth – some by helping legacy equipment owners assimilate into Industry 4.0, others by sharing their perspective and wealth of information that they gleaned working in industry before joining academia. 

“One of the best ways to develop the up-and-coming generation of manufacturing professionals is by exposing them to – as one of our honorees puts it – the pioneers and dreamers who are improving existing technologies and creating new ones,” said Robert Willig, executive director and CEO of SME. “Almost all of the 20 achievement-focused honorees number among their top accomplishments educating and shaping the next wave of pioneers and dreamers.”

Kong’s Smart Manufacturing Analytics Research and Technology (SMART) lab has developed multiple smart AM platforms for metals and polymers. These platforms use multi-physics and heterogeneous sensors to collect data in real-time for online process monitoring and control.

Based on these platforms, Kong’s lab has used advanced data analytics and machine learning to implement a number of online, in-situ, sensor-based methods to detect and mitigate the onset of AM process defects. His most recent achievement is the creation of a novel methodology that fuses multiple-image data streams with various spatial-temporal resolutions. This methodology is making it possible to collect data in an affordable way, rather than amassing it via expensive sensors.

Kong received his bachelor's and master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Harbin Institute of Technology in China and his doctorate in industrial and systems engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The article in the June 2021 issue of Smart Manufacturing magazine includes significantly more detail on the advances and accomplishments of these exceptional researchers and educators in their own areas of manufacturing. It is available at the following URL:

SME connects manufacturing professionals, academia and communities, sharing knowledge and resources to build inspired, educated and prosperous manufacturers and enterprises. With nearly 90 years of experience and expertise in events, media, membership, training and development, and also through the SME Education Foundation, SME is committed to promoting manufacturing technology, developing a skilled workforce and attracting future generations to advance manufacturing.