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Andres Najera

Mechanical Engineering
Graduation Year:
Spring 2021
Andres Najera is a 2019-2020 Undergraduate Research Ambassador and member of the Academy of Undergraduate Researchers Across Texas.

Faculty supervisor: Dr. Joseph J. Beaman, Jr.
Name of project: Powder Deposition Device for Multi-Material Powder Bed Fusion

Please give a brief, simplified overview of your research project.
My research project involves 3D printing metal parts that have more than one material in their composition. This is quite different from your typical metal alloys as the parts that will be made by our machine will have a discrete material boundary. In other words, a part can be made of a strong material to provide rigidity, and have an outer layer of a different material to allow the part to have other special traits (like conductivity or corrosion resistant). A metaphor of this technology in a real-life example is like having an “all-in-one” shampoo/conditioner/body wash product, but with metal parts.

Describe the tasks you engage in as part of your work.
The bulk of my work has been centered around machine design and applying the engineering design cycle to come up with the most reliable, safe powder deposition device. This includes learning how to design with mechanical and electrical constraints, and picking up helpful machining skills at the machine shop.

Describe what you thought college might be like before you came to UT. Did you consider research when thinking about college?
I thought coming to UT was not going to be challenging, but boy was I wrong! I am grateful to be part of such a prestigious research university. Research has always been something I wanted to do since I first learned about college. I grew up reading the bibliographies of famous scientists and engineers and was surprised at the impact they were able to generate with mere curiosity. I’m not saying I will make it big, but being a student at UT… you really never know. What starts here changes the world!

How did you get involved with your research project?
I got involved with this project after following up with my professor following a short elevator ride (elevator pitches really do exist!). I was already interested in doing research in his lab since taking his UGS class during my first semester at UT.

Do you see your project connecting with your plans for your future?
Big time. I am constantly seeking new, innovative ways this technology will be applicable to industry. I am excited for what the future holds as this project has a vast amount of applicability.

What is the most interesting or surprising thing you’ve gotten to do for this project?
Getting two different powdered metals to bond together! This proves that our project is well worth funding for as the possibilities for this technology – once perfected – are endless!

What advice would you give to a student who was thinking about research?
Be persistent and put yourself out there. Professors are very busy and you will most likely have to connect with the lab you want to work for through various ways (talking to the professor(s), graduate/undergraduate students working in the lab, anybody with connections to the lab). It also helps to get your own funding as it’s hard for anyone to deny “free labor,” unless you don’t mind working for free for the first couple of months.