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NAE member Robert Schafrik joins UTA, first scholar in North Texas sponsored by Governor’s University Research Initiative

Wednesday, June 6, 2018 • Media Contact: Louisa Kellie

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Robert Schafrik, the new Presidential Distinguished Professor of Industrial, Systems and Manufacturing Engineering, will have a secondary appointment in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

Dr. Robert Schafrik lost his battle with cancer on July 10, 2018. Our thoughts are with his family. Please visit the Dignity Memorial site for more information.

National Academy of Engineering member Robert Schafrik, an internationally renowned expert in materials and manufacturing, has joined The University of Texas at Arlington, strengthening the university’s programs around manufacturing, materials, and aerospace engineering.

Schafrik’s recruitment received support from Gov. Greg Abbott’s Governor’s University Research Initiative and the University of Texas System Science and Technology Acquisition and Retention, or STARS program. The GURI program is a matching grant program that assists higher education institutions in  recruiting distinguished researchers to the State of Texas. UTA was awarded a matching GURI grant totaling $2 million for a total startup fund of $4 million.

“Texas is pleased to support UTA’s success in hiring Dr. Schafrik, which reflects the growing reputation of the University as a Carnegie R1: Highest Research Activity institution,” said Gov. Greg Abbott. “Our GURI initiative is a strategic investment to vault the standings of our public colleges and universities into the top-ranked nationally.”

“We at UTA would like to thank the governor for his support,” said UTA President Vistasp Karbhari. “Dr. Schafrik’s unique experience will enhance our world-class team in composite materials, advanced manufacturing and computational materials science, and give an important boost to UTA’s innovation, commercialization activities and startup initiatives through his extensive experience bringing inventions to the market.”

Schafrik, the new Presidential Distinguished Professor of Industrial, Systems and Manufacturing Engineering, will have a secondary appointment in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

“The current visionary leadership and upward trajectory at UTA  attracted me to the University and it’s great that I can be a part of this dynamic research,” Schafrik said. “I used to come here to the General Dynamics facility - now Lockheed Martin - when I was in the Air Force and it is amazing to see the dramatic changes at UTA since then, especially the growth into an outstanding Carnegie R-1 institution.”

Alongside his academic responsibilities, Schafrik will collaborate extensively with the Institute for Predictive Performance Methodologies at the UTA Research Institute, which has brought together a group of world-renowned experts led by NAE member Kenneth Reifsnider in the area of modeling, analysis, and prediction of composite and advanced material performance in structures and systems. The IPPM laboratory is working with companies like Triumph Aerostructures, Lockheed Martin, GE, Bell Helicopter and Boeing to extend lifetime and predict failure in aerospace structures and turbine engines before they occur. IPPM is also working with NASA to predict the strength and life of rotor blade assemblies, or rotor spars.

This new strategic hire comes as UTA continues to grow its scholarly and research enterprise, on track to graduate more than 200 doctoral degrees for the fifth year in a row and with research expenditures expected to top $104 million in 2018.

“2018 will be another landmark year for UTA,” said Duane Dimos, UTA vice president for research. ”The opening in September of our new 230,000-square-foot Science and Engineering Innovation and Research building, a state-of-the-art teaching and research space, will enable even more innovative interdisciplinary collaboration across the campus.”

UTA College of Engineering Dean Peter Crouch added that “Having Dr. Schafrik join the College also gives us immediate access to industrial contacts in the Dallas-Fort Worth area as well as nationally, and a much-enhanced knowledge base from which to launch new research initiatives.”

“He will also be able to advise and mentor graduate and undergraduate students in careers in aerospace and manufacturing, which are growth sectors in the DFW area,” he added.

Schafrik holds 21 U.S. patents and was inducted into the GE Aviation Propulsion Hall of Fame in 2016. He also received the ASM International Eisenman Award for lifetime achievement in materials and, as a National Academy of Engineering member, is pre-eminent in his field. 

He is a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who held senior positions at the National Research Council’s National Materials Advisory Board and Board on Manufacturing and Engineering Design before joining GE Aviation in 1997, where he rose to general manager of the Materials and Process Engineering Department.

Schafrik also currently holds several positions in leading professional associations, including as a member of the audit committee of the National Academy of Engineering, and as chair of the National Research Council’s Committee on Connector Reliability for Offshore Oil and Natural Gas Operations.

He earned his bachelor’s degree of science in metallurgy from Case-Western Reserve University, master's of science degree in aerospace engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology and master's of science degree in information systems from George Mason University. He earned a doctorate in metallurgical engineering from Ohio State University.