Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Dr. Robert X. Gao Department Chair and Cady Staley Professor of Engineering one of the 20 most influential professors in smart manufacturing

Gao developed a systematic approach to the design, modeling, characterization and experimental evaluation of structure-embedded, multi-physics wireless sensors and related machine learning (ML) methods for the condition monitoring, fault diagnosis and remaining service life prognosis of manufacturing machines and product quality control—with applications in plastic injection molding, sheet-metal stamping and electrically assisted micro-rolling.


He wants to integrate physics-informed AI algorithms with process-embedded sensing methods to further improve production control and material and energy efficiencies. For smart manufacturing, he envisions more digitization that spans operations and supply chain and enables safe and seamless human-machine collaboration, automated performance optimization, prescriptive maintenance and environmentally responsible production. Academia could contribute to this vision by introducing students to some of the building blocks that make manufacturing “smart,” such as ML, in addition to the fundamental physical sciences. His advice to those who aspire to an academic career in manufacturing is to establish a solid foundation in physical science first while becoming competent with the fundamentals of data science.

See the full list of the 20 most influential professors in smart manufacturing here.