Nikhil Gupta Receives Heavyweight Honor for Work on Lightweight Composites

ASM International Presents its Mid-Career Silver Medal to NYU-Poly Professor Whose Research Has Important Military and Civilian Applications

Nikhil Gupta, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly), has been selected as the recipient of the ASM International Silver Medal, which recognizes a career of distinguished contributions in the field of materials science and engineering and service to the profession. Gupta’s work focuses on lightweight materials with high damage tolerance for helmets, body armor and vehicle structures—research with enormous potential for making those products not only lighter but safer.

He will be presented with the Silver Medal, which is given to mid-career professionals, in October, when members of ASM International gather in Montreal for their annual Materials Science & Technology Conference & Exhibition.

The medal is awarded in part for noteworthy books, papers, patents, new materials and processes, and unique innovations. Some of Gupta’s most significant recent research is at the behest of the U.S. military: He has developed polymer-based composite materials that permit the Navy to build faster, lighter ships requiring less maintenance and metal-based composite materials for lightweight blast armor for Army vehicles that allow for decreased fuel consumption, increased load capacity, and longer missions. He is collaborating on moderately priced lightweight brake rotors that could significantly improve the fuel economy of vehicles, and his research on helmet materials aims to improve the safety of athletes and troops.

ASM International also considers the impact of a nominee’s accomplishments on industry and society, and in choosing Gupta it noted that he is often called upon to represent his profession to the general public. Among the high-profile print and broadcast outlets that have covered him are the Discovery Channel, Reuters and Scientific American. His explanation of the science behind athletic helmet construction was featured by NBC as part of a National Science Foundation-sponsored video series for the 2012 Summer Olympics that attracted more than 125 million viewers and won a Telly Award.

ASM International, which was founded in 1913, is dedicated to serving the materials science and engineering profession. (ASM is an acronym for American Society of Metals, but after it expanded its geographic scope beyond America alone and broadened its technical scope beyond metals to include other engineered materials-composites, plastics, ceramics, and electronic materials; the society was renamed ASM International in 1986.) Through a network of 36,000 members, it provides authoritative information and knowledge on materials and processes, from the structural to the nanoscale. Gupta serves as the secretary of the group’s Committee on Composite Materials as well as vice president and board member of the Metro New York/New Jersey Chapter.

“Professor Gupta is an exemplar of an innovative researcher with international impact, a teacher who involves his students in entrepreneurial opportunities, and a public advocate for engineering and science,” said NYU-Poly President Katepalli R. Sreenivasan. “NYU-Poly is pleased that he has been recognized by the ASM International and proud to have him among our faculty. He exemplifies the spirit of innovation that the school strongly upholds.”

“Research and teaching are not the only jobs a scientist must do,” Gupta said. “It’s very important to stay active in professional societies and be of service to your colleagues. NYU-Poly has been very supportive and has made it possible for me to have such a rich, multi-faceted career.”

Gupta holds a master’s degree in metallurgical engineering from the Indian Institute of Science and a doctorate in engineering science from Louisiana State University. His many other honors include the 2007 and 2009 Visiting Lectureship Award from the ASM International-Indian Institute of Metals, an 2009 ASEE Summer Faculty Fellowship from the Air Force Research Laboratory, and a 2013 Young Leader Professional Development Award from the Structural Materials Division of The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society.