CLEMSON — Mohammed Daqaq of Clemson University is the winner of an award that recognizes the research he has done to develop “energy harvesters,” a new technology that could play a key role in helping monitor bridges for cracks and other signs of strain.

Mohammed Daqaq, left, works in a lab where he and his team are creating energy harvesters to power sensors.

Mohammed Daqaq (left) works in a lab where he and his team are creating energy harvesters to power sensors.

Daqaq, an associate professor of mechanical engineering, won the C.D. Mote Jr., Early Career Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Two colleagues described him as one of the world’s leading experts in energy harvesting.

“It feels great to have your achievements and contributions recognized by your colleagues,” Daqaq said. “Through research, my team and I want to make lives easier and to save energy for future generations.”

The energy harvesters that Daqaq is developing would channel vibrations to small sensors that are embedded throughout bridges, buildings and other structures. The sensors would provide a continuous stream of data that would report on the “health” of the structure, Daqaq said.

Vibrations could come from a wide range of sources, such as a gust of wind or a truck rumbling over a bridge.

Energy harvesters would provide an environmentally sustainable way of powering the sensors with no need for batteries or plugging into some other energy sources, Daqaq said. Sensors powered by energy harvesters could provide information for decades, he said.

Daqaq is focused on challenges related to bandwidth.

“These vibratory or flow-energy harvesters operate well within very small bandwidth frequencies that are in the environment,” he said. “But the energy in that environment is distributed over a wide range of frequencies. What we want to do is make that harvester respond to excitations and stimuli that have a very wide frequency bandwidth, not only a very small bandwidth.”

Recipients of the C.D Mote Jr. award demonstrate research excellence in the field of vibration and acoustics. They must be under 40 and members of the society for at least three years.

The prize is named for Dan Mote, who is the president of the National Academy of Engineering and is former president of the University of Maryland, College Park.

Melur “Ram” Ramasubramanian, chair of the mechanical engineering department, congratulated Daqaq on the award.

“This is a well-deserved honor,” he said. “Dr. Daqaq is a superb colleague, teacher and researcher who has accumulated an impressive funding and publication record at an early stage in his career.”

Georges Fadel, a professor and ExxonMobil Employees Chair in Engineering at Clemson, said that Daqaq is a worldwide leading authority on energy harvesting.

“The quality of his publications is very high,” Fadel said. “The majority are in prestigious journals. He has already published 57 high-quality journal papers and has 1,770 citations on his papers. His record is excellent.”

Daqaq received research funding in 2011 through the prestigious National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Program.

He won the mechanical engineering department’s Eugene H. Bishop Award for teaching excellence in 2010 and 2011 and followed up in 2012 with the Clemson University Board of Trustees Award for Faculty Excellence. He also won the 2014 Gary Anderson Early Achievement  Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Ali H. Nayfeh, of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, said that Daqaq quickly established himself as a leading researcher in the energy harvesting community after joining Clemson.

“I firmly believe that Dr. Daqaq has a bright academic career and will leave a research legacy behind him. He will accept nothing less,” said Nayfeh, who is a University Distinguished Professor Emeritus and served as Daqaq’s Ph.D. dissertation research adviser.

Daqaq has advised five Ph.D. graduates and 17 master’s students. He is currently advising five Ph.D. students.

Anand Gramopadhye, dean of the College of Engineering and Science at Clemson, said that Daqaq’s award is richly deserved.

“At a young age, he has already amassed an impressive research and teaching record,” Gramopadhye said. “The award speaks volumes about Dr. Daqaq’s hard work and creativity and the quality of research happening at Clemson University.”

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