Diana Lados, associate professor of mechanical engineering and director of the university's Integrative Materials Design Center (iMdc), received the Silver Medal of the Society from ASM International, the materials information society, at the 2012 Materials Science and Technology Conference and Exhibition in Pittsburgh in October. The award, the society's most distinguished honor for mid-career professionals, recognizes outstanding contributions to materials science and engineering, leadership, and service to ASM and the materials profession.
In selecting Lados as one of just two recipients of the Silver Medal for 2012, ASM recognized her "for developing and implementing a new integrative design paradigm in materials science and engineering research, education, and application through unique collaborations between university, industry, and government."
Lados studies fatigue, fatigue crack growth, creep, and fracture in metals, as well as the design and optimization of materials and processes for failure prevention and increased reliability and sustainability in automotive, aerospace, marine, and military applications.
Earlier this year, she received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award (the agency's most prestigious award for young faculty members) for a study that seeks to develop a comprehensive understanding of the initiation and propagation of fatigue-related cracks, along with unified fatigue-life predictive methods and tools. The knowledge and tools will permit designers to more confidently use light metals like aluminum, titanium, and magnesium in transportation applications. In addition to enhancing performance, a major goal is to increase the use of light metals in cars, trucks, airplanes, and boats, which will result in greater fuel economy and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
A full-time faculty member at WPI since 2006, she is the founder and director of iMdc, an industry-government-university research and educational alliance dedicated to advancing the state of the art and practice in sustainable materials-process-component design and manufacturing for high performance, reliability, and recyclability. The center's nearly 25 members includes some of the world's largest manufacturing companies and several government organizations and national laboratories.
Lados has won numerous honors for her work as a researcher and educator. In 2010 she became the first WPI professor selected to participate in the National Academy of Engineering's (NAE) prestigious U.S. Frontiers of Engineering symposium; the NAE also selected Lados to participate in the Frontiers of Engineering Education symposium that same year. This experience inspired her to inaugurate the Frontiers of Engineering Education-Educational Innovation Seminar Series at WPI, which features talks by national leaders in engineering teaching and learning, and promotes pioneering practices in engineering education. In 2012 she was chosen to participate in the NAE Japan-America Frontiers of Engineering symposium.
Also in 2010, she received The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society's (TMS) Robert Lansing Hardy Award, which honors young metallurgists who demonstrate "exceptional promise of a successful career in the broad field of metallurgy and materials science." In 2011, she also received the TMS Early Career Faculty Fellow Award for accomplishments that have advanced WPI and broadened the technological profile of TMS.
She was named to Foundry Management & Technology magazine's 2009 list of Metalcasting's Next Generation of Future Leaders, and in 2008 she received the Orr Early Career Award and the Orr Best Paper Award from the Materials Division of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).
Lados was the only woman on a team of five leaders in her field selected in 2011 to participate in a Department of Energy program to identify areas where materials science and engineering will shape research and business opportunities in the next decade; she led the materials integration in clean energy systems team. In March 2012 she was one of 20 New England women honored by Mass High Tech magazine as Women to Watch. The awards honor women in biotechnology, electronics, IT, medical devices, nanotechnology, software, sustainable energy, and telecommunications for notable contributions to their fields and leadership in their communities.
She received the 2011 Kalenian Award from WPI's Collaborative for Entrepreneurship and Innovation for her development of novel hybrid materials, WPI's Sigma Xi Outstanding Junior Faculty Researcher Award, the Axel Madsen Award from the Center for Powder Metallurgy Technology, the Sigma Xi Graduate Research Scientific Award for the best PhD thesis, the American Foundry Society's Aluminum Division Scholarship Award, and the ASM Worcester Chapter Chester M. Inman Award.
Lados earned BS and MS degrees in mechanical engineering at Polytechnic University of Bucharest, an MS in mechanical engineering at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, and a PhD in materials science and engineering at WPI. She has published more than 60 articles and one book chapter and delivered more than 120 conference and industrial presentations and invited lectures on such topics as design and optimization of materials and processes for fatigue, fatigue crack growth, creep and fracture resistance, and fracture mechanics; advanced materials and processes for energy and nuclear applications; solidification processing and heat treatment; and aluminum foundry engineering.