Thomas A. Dow Student Scholarship

The Thomas A. Dow Student Scholarship will recognize a student scholar in the field of precision engineering.  Valued at $2,000, this scholarship will support the student winner in the form of waived conference and tutorial fees and a stipend to cover the travel costs to the ASPE Annual Meeting.

Dr. Thomas A. Dow is regarded worldwide as a founding father, a leading spokesperson and a top expert in the field of precision engineering. After receiving his PhD degree from Northwestern University in 1972, Dr. Dow joined the Tribology Section of Battelle Columbus Laboratories and worked there for ten years. His seminal publications and ASME-published text on the mechanics of lubrication and wear in sliding contacts lead to the ASME Lubrication Division Newkirk Award in 1976 for contributions to metrology. These activities were his entry points into what was then the brand new field of precision engineering.

Dr. Dow joined the faculty at North Carolina State University in 1982 and established the first national academic research center, Precision Engineering Center, dedicated to precision engineering research and education.

Dr. Dow’s most notable early work was the development and demonstration of the fast-tool servo for machining non-rotationally symmetric optical surfaces. He was one of the first to integrate this concept into a diamond turning machine and the technique has since become indispensable in many ultraprecision applications. His work on servomechanisms and force transduction in diamond machining laid the foundation for his subsequent analytical, numerical, and experimental research on mechanisms of material removal at nanometer length scales.

He is well known for developing models and measurement methods that relate achievable surface finish to diamond tool sharpness and nanoscale cutting forces. He developed a theory for ductile response in nominally brittle materials that led to a counterintuitive but now widely accepted model for ductile regime grinding. His landmark paper on that topic has been cited more than 500 times by others in the field. More recently he also developed models and experimental methods to study other new technologies such as vibration assisted machining and nanocoining.

Professor Dow’s sustained commitment to precision engineering education has had a remarkable impact on the field. His inspiring pedagogy and rigorous educational approach has helped to launch the careers of dozens of aspiring precision engineers. He has always engaged all of his students in “active learning,” well before that practice was popularized in engineering curricula. His students take field trips to organizations to see first-hand the challenges and opportunities associated with careers in precision engineering. His advisees generally feel more like apprentices than students. He works side by side with them in the lab, sharing insight and guiding progress. His broad practical mechanical engineering experience serves both as a model and as a resource.

Dr. Dow was one of the founders of the American Society for Precision Engineering and acted as the Executive Director for over 30 years.

The Thomas A. Dow Student Scholarship is made possible by a five year endowment with contributions from individual doners who are colleagues and former students of the NCSU Precision Engineering Center.

2023 Recipient: Jixuan (Sean) Feng, The University of Texas at Austin (Advisor: Lei Zhou, University of Wisconsin-Madison)