Innovator of lightweight materials honored by global engineering society

NYU Tandon School of Engineering’s Nikhil Gupta was recognized by the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society for work on super-strong, super-lightweight materials

BROOKLYN, New York, Monday, March 9, 2020 – Nikhil Gupta, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering, received the prestigious Brimacombe Medalist Award, presented each year to an elite group of researchers by the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society (TMS), a professional organization with nearly 14,000 members worldwide.

The society, one of the largest in the field of materials sciences, presented the award to Gupta and five others at the group’s annual meeting in San Diego on February 26, 2020, which was attended by over 5,000 members.

The mid-career award recognizes individuals with sustained excellence and achievement in business, technology, education, public policy, or science related to materials science and engineering and with a record of continuing service to the profession. Gupta was honored for innovations in the development of lightweight porous materials and for commitment to educating the public about the impact of materials research on society.

Highlights of Gupta’s work over the past decade on lightweight syntactic foams — an eco-friendly material that finds a useful home for fly ash, a toxic by-product of coal combustion — in collaboration with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and others, includes:

  • A partnership with researchers in India that led to the first process to 3D print parts made of strong, lightweight syntactic foam composites that will enable manufacturers to print complex components capable of surviving stresses at greater depths, a boon for submarine manufacturers.
  • He also demonstrated that syntactic foams can be produced with economies of scale by smaller companies for automotive and consumer products sectors. The lightest metal based syntactic foam produced in collaboration with industry was finalist for R&D 100 Awards.
  • To make that process easier for smaller operators, he collaborated with chemical manufacturers to develop an online tool that simplifies, accelerates, and improves syntactic foam material design.

“I am deeply humbled to receive the Brimacombe Medalist Award,” said Gupta. “The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society has been a big part of my professional life since I became a student member in 1997. I have thoroughly enjoyed exploring the professional development opportunities, connecting with my peers in the Composite Materials Committee, and developing programming and content for the conferences and journals over the past several years.”

“This award, from one of the largest, most prestigious societies in materials engineering is a fitting tribute to a researcher whose efforts have propagated a dazzling array of innovative materials and processes for marine, automotive and aerospace applications,” said Jelena Kovačević, Dean of the NYU Tandon School of Engineering. “Additionally, his focus on renewable feedstocks is just one example of how researchers at NYU Tandon are making industrial chemistry more sustainable.”

Nikhil Gupta’s research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory.

About the New York University Tandon School of Engineering

The NYU Tandon School of Engineering dates to 1854, the founding date for both the New York University School of Civil Engineering and Architecture and the Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute (widely known as Brooklyn Poly). A January 2014 merger created a comprehensive school of education and research in engineering and applied sciences, rooted in a tradition of invention and entrepreneurship and dedicated to furthering technology in service to society. In addition to its main location in Brooklyn, NYU Tandon collaborates with other schools within NYU, one of the country’s foremost private research universities, and is closely connected to engineering programs at NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai. It operates Future Labs focused on start-up businesses in downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn and an award-winning online graduate program. For more information, visit