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UTA professor earns prestigious award from American Society of Mechanical Engineers

Wednesday, June 5, 2019 • Media Contact: UT Arlington Media Relations

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Dereje Agonafer, a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a Distinguished University Professor of mechanical engineering at The University of Texas at Arlington, has been named by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers as a recipient of its prestigious Heat Transfer Memorial Award.

Dereje Agonafer, a UTA professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

The award honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the field of heat transfer in teaching, research, practice and design through publications, patents or inventions. Awards are given annually in three categories: the science of heat transfer, the art of heat transfer and the general subject of heat transfer.

Agonafer received the award in the art of heat transfer category for “outstanding contributions to robust thermo/mechanical design of microelectronics systems, particularly for promoting the use of computational fluid dynamics in the upstream phase of design and enabling concurrent electrical and thermal design, which reduced both lead time and cost.”

Heat transfer is the generation, use, conversion and exchange of heat between physical systems. Agonafer is an expert in heat transfer in computer servers and works with many of the world’s leading technology companies.

“It’s an honor to receive the Heat Transfer Memorial Award because it recognizes a body of work throughout a career,” Agonafer said. “Although it’s nice to win awards, my students are always my first priority, and I do my best to provide them with experiences that will enable them to craft their careers in outstanding ways. I always remind my students that I have an incomplete until they get a job”

Agonafer is site director for the Industry University Collaborative Research Consortium in Energy-Efficient Systems, a National Science Foundation consortium aimed at finding clean solutions to pressing energy problems. UTA is collaborating on the project with Binghamton University and Villanova University, along with 15 companies, including Facebook, Microsoft, General Electric, Verizon, Comcast and CommScope. Launched in 2011, the I/UCRC was recently awarded Phase II funding to continue through 2022.

“I make sure that my students attend conferences and gain valuable experience in presenting their research because then they feel comfortable interacting with people in industry and with their peers at other universities,” Agonafer said. “When they have that experience, they understand that they can compete with anyone in the workforce.”

Agonafer has graduated more than 220 students in his career, with 13 doctoral and 15 master’s students currently under his tutelage. Two of his former doctoral students, Fahad Mirza and Jimil Shah, have previously won the ASME Electronic and Photonic Packaging Division Student Engineer of The Year Award. Former doctoral student Veerendra Mulay was previously honored with the ASME Electronic and Photonic Packaging Division Young Engineer Award.

“I’m pleased and excited that Dr. Agonafer has earned the ASME Heat Transfer Memorial Award in recognition of his excellent work,” said Peter Crouch, dean of the College of Engineering. “His research and connections to industry set a very high bar for his colleagues and underline to his students the importance of their work.”

Erian Armanios, chair of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, said Agonafer’s major contribution may be in his exceptional mentoring of students. 

“Dr. Agonafer’s contributions to his field are well-documented and this latest award is yet another testament to his distinguished career,” Armanios said. “His contributions in mentoring students, where he has continually graduated outstanding students who go on to work for some of the best technology companies in the industry, may even eclipse his contributions in the lab.”

In addition to his membership in the National Academy of Engineering, Agonafer is also a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and is a Life Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

He holds nine U.S. patents and six foreign patents and has published more than 230 papers, two books and several book chapters. His former students work in some of the world’s leading global companies, including Facebook, Intel, Google, Microsoft, Mestex and TDK.

U.S. News & World Report’s 2020 “Best Graduate Schools” list ranks the College of Engineering No. 82 in the nation and its mechanical engineering graduate program in the Top 100.

--Written by Jeremy Agor