The Engineer's Impact - HaoTian (Harvey) Shi

Your inside look at faculty’s research and its effect on society

In this new Q&A series, we’ll feature Western Engineering faculty members to gain a succinct overview of their research, understand its impact on society, and discover intriguing little-known facts.

Meet Mechanical and Materials Engineering Assistant Professor HaoTian (Harvey) Shi

fang-fangCan you describe your research?

My research program situates at the intersection between advanced manufacturing and material informatics. We first use novel automated additive manufacturing platforms to construct 3D functional materials at the micro/nanoscale and apply them towards energy storage and biomedical sensing applications. Then, by using machine learning, a tool within the artificial intelligence (AI) space, we can leverage the large dataset generated through the manufacturing process and further improve the material’s functional performance. Hidden fundamental relations between the device performance and fabrication parameters can potentially be revealed and further predictions on product quality and performance can be made.

How does your research impact society in everyday life?

As we are transforming to a society with greener energy mix, alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar, are contributing more towards electricity generation. However, due to the variability and unpredictability of these resources, it is difficult to fully utilize their output. Energy storage devices created through our advanced manufacturing platforms will be able to integrate as part of the grid-scale energy storage platform. This system would essentially store the energy when the sun is shining and wind is blowing, and then supply it back to the grid when electricity is in high demand to offset the need for electricity generated with fossil fuels. Our specialized machine learning algorithm will also help building smarter manufacturing processes that are capable of self-learning and self-improving, which would contribute to a more efficient industry 4.0.

What’s an interesting, little-known fact related to your research?

Energy storage devices, such as supercapacitors, are “super” because of their high power densities compared to batteries. Supercapacitors can be utilized complementary to batteries to help reduce the unwanted heat generated during fast discharge cycles to improve battery system longevity and increase their overall discharge efficiencies.