ASPE Early Career Award

Award Description and Purpose

ASPE benefits greatly from the infusion of energy and new ideas brought by members who are in the early stages of their career. The purpose of this award is to recognize outstanding technical contributions from this group and to encourage them to continue to be active in the Society.

ASPE is proud to recognize the following Early Career Award Winners

Dr. Brandon D. Chalifoux – University of Arizona

Brandon Chalifoux is an Assistant Professor in the Wyant College of Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona where he directs the Lightweight Optics Laboratory. He earned his doctorate in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2019 with a dissertation on the figure correction of thin plate and shell substrates using stress generated by ion implantation. Brandon’s general research interests are in establishing techniques for the precision fabrication, mounting, and alignment of lightweight optics. One notable application of these optics are in space telescopes, and particularly in x-ray telescopes, but the techniques extend to novel micro-optical mechanical resonators in glass and glass-ceramics with additional applications in inertial sensing and biomedical technologies. Most notably, Brandon is first and foremost a selfless teacher and colleague with a dedication to educating students and building professional networks that strengthen our precision engineering community.

Dr. Michael Cullinan – University of Texas at Austin

Dr. Michael Cullinan is currently a professor at the University of Texas at Austin. His involvement with  ASPE began as a student and has continued with his active participation in various ways including his current chairmanship of the Micro‐Nano TLC (MNTLC), organizer of two MNTLC topical meetings and as the associate editor for the journal of the Society. He is a prolific author with many publications in the Society’s journal and conference proceedings.

Dr. Cullinan is recognized for his application of precision engineering to micro and nano scale manufacturing and metrology. His contributions include development of additive manufacturing at the micro‐nano scale, in‐line nanometrology for roll‐to‐roll processes and MEMS sensors for testing nanoscale additive manufacturing processes.

Dr. Nick Horvath – Lockheed Martin

Dr. Nick Horvath received his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. His pre‐university practical experience as a machinist and nuclear-certified welder helped him to become one of the top students at the university and aided him in his research activities. As an undergraduate he led a senior capstone design team that demonstrated the design, manufacture, and assembly of a miniaturized snap‐together three‐mirror off‐axis freeform telescope with only seven total parts. This work was the subject of a paper at the 2017 Annual Meeting. He continued to work in diamond machining of free‐form and snap-together optics during his Ph.D. studies. Following graduation, he moved to Oak Ridge National Lab where drew on his experience in optical design and fabrication to create a new thrust area in machining of free‐form optics from silicon carbide from additively manufactured preforms. He is now a Staff Research Scientist at Lockheed Martin, and has published in Precision Engineering, as well as several other prestigious journals, and shows every indication of being a life‐long valuable member of ASPE.

Dr. Horvath is recognized for his leadership and contributions to a wide range of precision design and manufacturing applications, including ultra‐precision machining, the design and fabrication of snap-together optical assemblies, and the use of additive manufacturing techniques to create silicon carbide preforms for lightweight optics.

Dr. Marijn Nijenhuis – University of Twente

Marijn Nijenhuis is an Assistant Professor in the Precision Engineering group at the University of Twente, where he earned his doctorate in 2019 with a specialization in the analysis of spatial flexure mechanisms. At this early stage in his career, he has already published eleven manuscripts representing substantial contributions in flexure mechanism analysis and in the implementation of flexure-based precision motion control systems. His thesis clearly and concisely provides a complete analysis of the linear solutions for small displacements and rotations of three-dimensional flexure elements, but also includes the non-linear analysis necessary for longer-range motions. These were realized in the design of a three-dimensional spherical flexure joint and its integration into a large-stroke flexure-based hexapod. Marijn has further worked to share and disseminate his findings throughout the precision engineering community through an accessible web-based package for flexure design and by preparing materials for an ASPE tutorial.