SME Recognizes its 20 Most Influential Academics in Smart Manufacturing


(SOUTHFIELD, Mich., June 3, 2021) SME, the professional association committed to advancing manufacturing and developing a skilled workforce, today identified 20 academics who are educating and shaping the next generation of engineers and smart manufacturing technologists across a diverse range of disciplines. 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 even created a company that early on in a child’s development helps parents choose STEM-related products that stimulate their interest in math and science.

 “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.”  




One of the honorees, Dr. Ihab Ragai, associate professor of Engineering at Penn State University, spent more than 20 years working in manufacturing before joining the ranks of academia. He created one of the industry’s first design-for-manufacturing platforms that tracks manufacturing process data and correlates it to the state of the part to conduct stress analysis and fatigue-life predictions for tooling in the process.

Ragai advises students to study all facets of manufacturing. “Many new graduates continue researching the same topics without exploring or identifying other areas that would complete the puzzle,” he said. “Either work in industry for some years to grasp the bigger picture or team up with other members from the academic community with different areas of expertise.”


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:

About SME
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. Learn more at, follow  @SME_MFG on Twitter or

Media Contacts:
Michael Scholl
Senior PR Representative, SME
Email Contact
Tel. +1 313-425-3040

Rick Crooks
Senior PR Representative, SME
Email Contact
Tel. +1 313.425.3186

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