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2006 - Nam P. Suh - USA

Professor Nam Pyo Suh


The Ralph E. & Eloise F. Cross Professor
Director, Manufacturing Institute, Department of Mechanical Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139 - USA

Previous Positions

National Science Foundation, Washington, D.C.

1984 - 1988 (Jan.)      Assistant Director for Engineering (Presidential Appointee).

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

1991 - 2001               Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

1990 - Present            Director, Manufacturing Institute.

1989 - Present            The Ralph E. & Eloise F. Cross Professor of Manufacturing.

1975 - Present            Professor of Mechanical Engineering.

1977 - 84                   Founding Director, Laboratory for Manufacturing and Productivity.

1973 - 84                   Founder and Director, MIT-Industry Polymer Processing Program.

1979 - 84                   Member, Engineering Council, MIT.

1975 - 77                   Head, Mechanics and Materials Division, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering.

1974 - 75                   Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering (Tenured).

1970 – 74                  Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering

University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC.

1968 - 69                   Associate Professor of Engineering.

1965 - 68                   Assistant Professor of Engineering.

USM Corporation, Beverly, MA.

1961 - 65                   Senior Research Engineer and Project Manager (1962-63 at CMU).

Guild Plastics, Inc., Cambridge, MA.

1958 - 60                   Development Engineer (half-time during academic year, full-time in summer).

Education & Related

1955                          Buckingham, Browne and Nichols School, Cambridge, MA.

1959                          S.B., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA.

1961                          S.M., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA.

1964                          Ph.D., Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA.

Honorary doctorates

1986                          Eng. D. (Hon.), Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA.

1988                          L.H.D. (Hon.), University of Massachusetts-Lowell, Lowell, MA.

2000                          Tekn.Dr. hc, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden

Honors and Awards

1.   Gustus L. Larson Memorial Award of ASME and Pi Tau Sigma for pioneering work in the field of tribology: the Delamination Theory of Wear, 1976.

2.   Blackall Award of ASME for the Solution Wear Theory (with B. M. Kramer), 1982.

3.   SPE Award for Contribution in Tribology of Polymers (with J. R. Youn), 1981.

4.   Citation Classic by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) for one of the most quoted papers, "The Delamination Theory of Wear", 1979.

5.   Election to CIRP (International Institution for Production Engineering Research), 1978.

6.   Selected by USM Corporation for company sponsored graduate study at Carnegie Mellon University, 1962.

7.   Who's Who in AmericaWho's Who in Science and Technology

8.   Special edition of Wear journal, devoted to the work of Suh and coworkers, 1977.

9.   The F. W. Taylor Research Award, Society of Manufacturing Engineers, 1986.

10. Honorary Doctor of Engineering Degree, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 1986.

11. Phi Kappa Phi.

12. Pi Tau Sigma.

13. Sigma Xi.

14. Life Fellow, American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

15. Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, University of Massachusetts, Lowell, MA, 1988.

16. Distinguished Service Award, NSF, 1988.

17. Federal Engineer of the Year, NSF, National Society of Professional Engineers, 1987.

18. Foreign member, The Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Science (IVA), 1988.

19. Ralph E. & Eloise F. Cross Professor, MIT, 1989.

20. Centennial Medallion of American Society for Engineering Education, 1993.

21. William T. Ennor Manufacturing Technology Award, ASME, 1993

22. The Best Tribology Paper Award (with D. E. Kim), ASME, 1993

23. Scholarly Achievement Award, KBS, 1995.

24. Life member, The Korean Academy of Science and Technology, 1995

25. The 1997 Ho-Am Prize for Engineering, Ho-Am Committee, 1997

26. Honorary Doctor (Tekn.Hedersdoktor), Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden, 2000

27. The Mensforth International Gold Medal, The Institution of Electrical Engineers, United Kingdom, March 15, 2001

28. The Hills Millennium Award of the Institution of Engineering Designers of the United Kingdom (First recipient) , June 4, 2001

29. Who’s Who  in The World

30. Honorary Professor and The William Mong Lecturer/Fellow, The University of Hong Kong, 2003


1.   About 280 scholarly papers on topics such as:

  • Axiomatic design principles and methodologies
  • Complexity theory
  • Delamination theory of wear.
  • Solution wear theory for cutting tools.
  • Friction space and friction theory.
  • Reaction injection molding.
  • Solid state forming.
  • Mixalloy process.
  • Engineering education
  • Microcellular Plastics
  • R&D policy

2.   Books

a)   Elements of the Mechanical Behavior of Solids (with A.P.L. Turner), McGraw-Hill, 1975.

b)   The Delamination Theory of Wear, Elsevier, 1977

c)   Tribophysics, Prentice-Hall, 1986.

d)   The Principles of Design,Oxford University Press, 1990.

e)   Axiomatic Design: Advances and Applications, Oxford University Press, 2001

f)    Complexity: Theory and Applications, Oxford University Press, 2004

g)   Axiomatic Design and Fabrication of Composite Structures, (With Dai Gil Lee) 2005

3.   Edited Books

a)   Fundamentals of Tribology (with N. Saka), MIT Press, 1980.

b)   Science and Technology of Polymer Processing (with N. Sung), MIT Press, 1979.

c)   University/Industry Cooperation, NSF publication, 1982 (with B. M. Kramer).

d)   Manufacturing Engineering, (In manuscript form, Principal Author & Editor).


Approximately 50 U.S. patents (and many foreign patents) - Some of the important patents include:

  • Electrostatic charge decay NDE technique (commercialized by Dr. Ming Tse).
  • Method for making laminated plastic molded parts (Sweetheart plastics).
  • Tough plastics.
  • Electrostatic mixing apparatus.
  • Mixalloys.(Trademark).
  • Minute moisture measuring system for polymers (Trademark– Axiometer).
  • Low-energy solvent separation using spinodal decomposition.
  • Microcellular plastics (Commercial trademark – MuCell)
  • Axiomatic design software (Trademark – Acclaro)
  • Electrical connectors (Trademark Low R, a Tribotek product)

Other Professional Activities

A. Current (in 2006)

  • Founder and Member of the Board of Directors, Trexel, Inc. (formerly Axiomatics Corporation), Woburn, MA.
  • Founder and Member of the Board, Axiomatic Design Software, Inc., Boston, MA
  • Member of the Board of Directors, Integrated Circuit Systems, Inc., Valley Forge, PA
  • Member of the Board of Directors, ParkerVision, Inc., Jacksonville, FL
  • Member of the Board of Directors, Therma Wave, Inc., Fremont, CA
  • Co-Founder and Member of the Board of Directors, Tribotek, Inc., Burlington, MA
  • Series Editor, Advanced Manufacturing Engineering Series, Oxford University Press
  • Editor, MIT/Pappalardo Series of Mechanical Engineering Books, Oxford University Press
  • Consultant, Pharos, Inc.
  • Member, Advisory Council Member, Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Visiting Faculty (part-time), Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology
  • Member of editorial board of the following journals:

                              Polymer Processing Engineering

                              International Journal of Computer Applications in Technology

                              Research in Engineering Design

                              Advanced Manufacturing Processes

                              Journal of Manufacturing Systems

                              Journal of Design manufacturing

                              Journal of Intelligent Manufacturing

                              and others

B. Past

  • Member of the Board of Directors (Chairman of Tech. Adv. Comm.), Silicon Valley Group, Inc., San Jose, California
  • Co-Editor-in-Chief, Robotics and Computer-Integrated Manufacturing, an international journal.
  • Founder and Chairman of the Board, Sutek Corporation (formerly Mixalloy Corporation), Hudson, MA.
  • Member, Technical Advisory Committee, Alcan Aluminum Corporation, Cambridge, MA.
  • Visiting committee member of the following mechanical engineering departments, Texas A&M University, Stanford University, University of Michigan, and the University of California at Berkeley
  • Chief Technical Advisor, United Nations Industrial Development Organization.
  • Consultant, World Bank.
  • Member of the board, Surftech Corporation, Nashua, NH.
  • Consultant to many corporations throughout the world.
  • Member of the Scientific and Technical Board, Idaho National Engineering Laboratory.
  • Member of the NRC Panel for the National Engineering Laboratory.
  • Member of the Visiting Committee (Statutory) on Advanced Technology, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Department of Commerce, 1991-1994.
  • Member of the Advisory Committee, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
  • Chairman, the Overseas Advisory Committee, the BK 21 Program, Ministry of Education, Republic of Korea.
  • CIRP (STC Design, Chairman)
  • Member of a Research Award Committee of ASEE.
  • ENDREA Program, Scientific Committee, Sweden
  • Review Panel, Kplus Center Program, Austria
  • Visiting Faculty, University of Tokyo and Yonsei University
  •  The William Mong Distinguished Fellow, University of Hong Kong, 2002

Other Accomplishments

  • Professor Suh is the creator of the axiomatic design theory that has been adopted by many industrial firms and taught at many universities and industrial firms throughout the world.  The axiomatic design principles have been used to create new materials, products, processes, systems, software, and organizations. He taught a large number of industrial engineers, including automotive companies, aerospace companies, and defense industries.
  • He also advanced a complexity theory and the concept of Functional Periodicity for creation of stable systems.
  • He has also made contributions in the field of tribology: the delamination theory of wear, solution wear, genesis of friction, undulated surfaces, electrical connectors, and others.  Innovative electrical connector design is being commercialized by Tribotek, Inc.
  • In 1973, Professor Suh established the first university/industry cooperative research program at MIT known as the MIT-Industry Polymer Processing Program, which became a model in establishing similar programs at many other universities by NSF and in formulating the Stevenson-Wydler Innovation Act of 1981 by U. S. Congress. He has also created many polymer-processing techniques, in addition to generating many of the leading academics in the field of polymer processing.
  • Among the many new materials, products and manufacturing processes invented by him are: Microcellular plastics (known as MuCell and used commercially worldwide), Mixalloy, USM high pressure foam molding technology (used world wide), electrostatic charge-decay NDE technique, semiconductor manufacturing equipment, electrical connectors, low friction surfaces, and foam/straight plastic lamination process (a major industrial product).  Many of these have been commercialized.
  • The MIT Laboratory for Manufacturing and Productivity (of which Professor Suh was the founder and first Director until his NSF appointment) became one of the world's largest and most successful laboratories of its kind.
  • His inventions have become the basis for several successful commercial and industrial technologies.
  • Professor Suh has supervised approximately 50 PhDs and 70 SMs in the fields of materials processing, mechanical engineering and manufacturing. His former students now number among the most promising educators and industrial engineers in the world.
  • He was the principal architect of the highly successful Five-Year Economic Plan of Korea for the Period 1980 - 1985.
  • Upon his appointment to the National Science Foundation by President Reagan, Dr. Suh instituted a new structure and policies for engineering education and research to prepare for a new era.  His plans received strong endorsements from U.S. Congress and the Administration. Many distinguished researchers and educators joined him at NSF to implement the new programs for engineering education and research. Dr. Suh created programs for design theory and methodology, biotechnology, computer-integrated engineering, emerging technologies, critical technologies, the Engineering Research Centers, Expedited Grants for Novel Research, Creativity Grants, and the University-Industry-Government Cooperative Program for engineering education.
  • As the Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT, Professor Suh worked with his colleagues to elevate the already highest ranked department to a higher level of excellence by establishing clear macro-strategic goals and carefully developing and implementing programs and activities to achieve these goals.  He established the following goals, which have been achieved during his tenure as Department Head:

1.         Transformation of the mechanical engineering field from a discipline that is primarily based on physics to a discipline that is based on physics, information and biology.

2.         Concentration of the two ends (rather than the middle of the research spectrum) of the research spectrum – basic research and technology innovation – where the impact on knowledge base and society is the largest.

3.         Improvement of undergraduate education by providing a right context for learning, integrating engineering science subjects, providing hands-on experience in design and manufacturing, and by simultaneously teaching design and analysis in all subjects.

4.         Emphasis on interdisciplinary research at the interface between traditional mechanical engineering and information, biology, and energy, which have resulted in the creation of the d’Arbeloff Laboratory for Information Systems, the Laboratory for BioInstrumentation, Hatosopoulos Microfluids Laboratory, Auto ID center, and the Laboratory for 21st Century Energy. The MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering has some of the finest teaching and research laboratories in the world.

      The educational goal of the Department is to prepare MIT students for leadership in their chosen fields.  To achieve this goal, an innovative undergraduate curriculum was adopted.  This curriculum incorporates many new ideas and pedagogical innovations.  The BJ and Chunghi Park Lecture Halls were created to enable “self-discovery” form of learning as well as more traditional form of lecturing. He also raised a substantial sum of money from MIT alumni/ae and industrial corporations to renovate and endow undergraduate teaching laboratories and to establish endowed senior faculty chairs. Also to encourage and support the faculty effort for teaching material development, an endowment fund for book writing was created.  Oxford University Press through its MIT/Pappalardo Series of Mechanical Engineering Books will publish the books written with the support of this endowment fund.

      Professor Suh also established the Manufacturing Institute at MIT to provide an educational mechanism for teaching engineering systems and to strengthen the interaction between MIT and industry by conducting industrially funded research in the field of large systems and by creating more effective technology transfer mechanisms.

      His major achievement as Head of the Mechanical Engineering Department was the hiring of the brightest young professors from many fields – mechanical engineering, computer science, electrical engineering, physics, and optics -- who have already become world’s leaders in their respective fields. Nearly 40% of the department faculty were hired during his tenure.

Professional Societies

  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers (Life Fellow; Chairman, Productivity Committee, 1982-84).
  • American Society for Engineering Education.
  • International Institution for Production Engineering Research (CIRP) (Active Member; Former Chairman: Design STC).
  • Society of Plastics Engineers
  • Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (Foreign Member)
  • Korean Academy of Science and Technology (Life Fellow)
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science.


US citizen. He was born in Korea on April 22, 1936, and immigrated to the U.S. in 1954 to join his father who was teaching at Harvard University.  He completed his high school education at Browne & Nichols School before entering MIT as a freshman in 1955.