Carolyn Conner Seepersad

Carolyn Conner Seepersad is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin.  She received a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech in 2004, an MA/BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University in 1998, and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from West Virginia University in 1996.  She is a former Rhodes Scholar, Hertz Fellow, and NSF Graduate Fellow.

In 2009, Dr. Seepersad was the inaugural recipient of the International Outstanding Young Researcher Award in Freeform and Additive Manufacturing from the additive manufacturing community.  In 2010, she received the University of Texas Regents’ and Dean’s Awards for Outstanding Teaching by an Assistant Professor; the Regents' award is the highest teaching award for faculty in The University of Texas System.  Dr. Seepersad is the recipient of a Best Paper Award for the 2009 ASME Design Theory and Methodology Conference and two best paper awards for the 2010 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition.  She is also a co-organizer of the 2011 NAE Frontiers of Engineering Symposium, a symposium organized by the NAE for a select group of emerging engineering leaders ages 30-45, and she was competitively selected to participate in the symposium in 2010. 

Dr. Seepersad is the author of more than 65 peer-reviewed conference and journal publications and one book.  She annually organizes a DAC special session on Design of Multiscale Engineering Systems, and she co-organizes the annual Solid Freeform Fabrication Symposium.  She teaches courses on product design, additive manufacturing, and design of complex engineered systems.  

Curriculum Vitae

Research Overview

Dr. Seepersad’s research involves the development of methods and computational tools for engineering design.  Much of her work is focused on design for additive and freeform manufacturing, with an emphasis on products with customized mesostructure, including built-in honeycomb and lattice structures.  Next-generation topology design methods have been developed that not only arrange material strategically but also account for multifunctionality and robustness to processing and environmental variability.  Applications include the design of functionally graded structures, structural heat exchangers, and deployable structures.  A recent application, funded by DARPA and ARO, is topology design and experimental validation of networks of energy-absorbing structures that exploit bistable or negative stiffness behavior to provide combinations of high damping and high stiffness. 

In a complementary research project, Dr. Seepersad and her students are developing methods for simulation-based design of complex products and systems.  Set-based methods, derived from Bayesian networks, are being investigated to enable collaborating designers to generate and exchange preliminary solutions across scales and/or disciplines with minimal iteration. 

Another major project is focused on mechanical innovation and the use of empathic techniques for stimulating innovation. Experiments are being conducted to test the effect of empathic experiences on engineering innovation.  Empathic experiences involve interacting with products under challenging circumstances (e.g., earplugs to simulate noisy environments) with the intention of helping designers better understand and improve product-user interactions.  

Dr. Seepersad is also actively involved in developing fundamental principles and metrics for product flexibility and environmnetally conscious design as well as techniques and testbeds for predictive process control, with an emphasis on welding applications.