John P. Coulter, a professor of mechanical engineering and mechanics and senior associate dean for research in Lehigh University’s P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science, has been elected as a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).
The distinction, one most prestigious in the field, recognizes outstanding achievements made by longstanding members of the professional society. Of the nearly 80,000 ASME members worldwide, fewer than 3,500 have received the honor.
At Lehigh, Coulter leads operations and strategy for all engineering research and associated facilities within the Rossin College (encompassing more than 140 faculty members, over 600 graduate students, and research funding that exceeds $25 million annually). At the university level, he holds a leadership role among Lehigh’s three interdisciplinary research institutes and has been deeply involved in strategic planning. He has also twice served as interim dean of the Rossin College.
Coulter joined the Lehigh faculty in 1990 as an assistant professor and has taught and conducted research in areas such as material processing and manufacturing science, nanoscale manufacturing, additive manufacturing, energy, cell development and tissue engineering, and smart materials and structures.
Advanced materials and manufacturing
A highly productive researcher with over 200 publications in a career spanning three decades, Coulter “has made substantial contributions to the processing, characterization, and design of advanced materials,” says Vahid Motevalli, director of the School of Science, Engineering, and Technology at Penn State Harrisburg. “In particular, his contributions have been in the development of innovative processing methods for polymer-based composites resulting in unique performance enhancements.”
As an early-career researcher bridging the fields of adaptive structures and intelligent manufacturing, Coulter received the National Science Foundation National Young Investigator (NYI) Award (precursor to the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award) and the NSF Presidential Faculty Fellow Award (precursor to the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, or PECASE).
As a PI, his funding from federal, state, and industrial grants and contracts to support his cross-disciplinary research and teaching activities exceeds $10 million.
He is also the lead faculty principal investigator representing Lehigh for the NSF Innovation-Corps (I-Corps) Northeast Hub, a multi-university program to foster entrepreneurial startups and broaden opportunities for underrepresented groups.
Prior to entering academia, Coulter gained several years of industrial experience as a senior R&D engineer with Lord Corporation, a multi-national company specializing in materials and devices for vibration and acoustic control.
He holds two US patents and has three international pending patents.
Educational leadership and innovation
“Dr. Coulter continues to make significant contributions today in the areas of polymer
processing and additive manufacturing research,” says Arindam Banerjee, professor and chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics at Lehigh. “His career has been completely integrated with a strong focus on education at all levels.”
That focus extends beyond Lehigh’s campus, where Coulter has mentored 25 doctoral degree recipients and over 100 master’s-level students. He is currently serving his second three-year term (2020-2023) on the board of directors of the Engineering Research Council (ERC) of the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) and was recently named its chair-elect.
During his initial years at Lehigh, Coulter focused on the creation and development of the core lecture- and laboratory-based undergraduate and graduate manufacturing curriculum in the mechanical engineering and mechanics department. He continues to develop and teach manufacturing-related courses at the graduate and advanced undergraduate levels.
Coulter has demonstrated his commitment to broadening participation in STEM fields and “developing the workforce of the future” by integrating K-12 and college level education, Banerjee says. Coulter has led innovative efforts to include more than 100 local grade school students (mostly from low-resource and/or underrepresented backgrounds) each year in manufacturing classes taught at Lehigh.
A commitment to service
Coulter’s contributions to ASME include service on technical committees and efforts to expand the ASME Materials Division, where he served as Chair of the Materials Processing and Manufacturing Committee from 1997 to 2003. He has organized numerous symposia and edited ASME proceedings and journals. Most recently, he gave three research presentations on the improvement of process parameters in injection molding at the International Mechanical Engineering Congress & Exposition (2021 IMECE).
He has been recognized by ASME with numerous awards, including International Manufacturing Engineering Division Award for Industry-University Educational Partnerships in the New Millennium and the International University Curriculum Innovation Award Honorable Mention.
He has served in additional leadership roles with the International Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) and is Lehigh’s current representative to the Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP) organization.
Coulter holds a PhD in mechanical engineering and a BS and MS in mechanical and aerospace engineering from the University of Delaware.
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