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Engineering the Solutions to Tough Problems


Graduate student Shantanu Deshpande and Professor Pradeep Lall

Professor Pradeep Lall and graduate student Bhavadeep Karpurapu

Profiles in Excellence is a feature presenting Auburn University faculty who have been honored by the university or nationally for the top level of achievement in teaching, research or outreach.

Professor Pradeep Lall, who received one of Auburn's two 2013 Creative Research and Scholarship Awards in September, enjoys solving engineering problems. Not just any problems—tough ones that will make a contribution to society or improve the quality of human life. And he especially enjoys working with his students on the solutions.

"I value the opportunity to work with bright students who are passionate to learn both in the classroom and the laboratory," said Lall, the Thomas Walter Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering and director of its NSF Center for Advanced Vehicle and Extreme Environment Electronics.

"I specifically enjoy having an opportunity to make an impact on their lives," he said. "Auburn University is a wonderful place to work with world-class facilities and friendly people who strive tirelessly to be best in their profession. It is special to be part of the Auburn Family."

Lall's research focuses on finding methods for making electronic systems more reliable, safer, energy efficient and more survivable in the harshest of environments. He is working on:

  • Making portable electronics more survivable during accidental drops so that smartphones, laptops or tablets can continue to function;
  • Testing and improving LEDs, a new, more energy efficient form of lighting, so they can last a long time and maintain color consistency in extreme environments;
  • Enhancing unmanned electronic systems to survive thousands of g-forces of acceleration so they can continue to function when they are launched into space and land on distant planets; and
  • Formulating leading indicators or bell-weathers to improve electronic systems related to safety, such as electronic warning systems incorporated into automobiles.

Graduate student Shantanu Deshpande and Professor Pradeep Lall

Graduate student Shantanu Deshpande and Professor Pradeep Lall

"Fault-prognostication [identifying failures before they occur] has high relevance to everyday safety in cars which often use lane departure warning systems and collision avoidance systems," he said. "The leading indicators allow early identification of system faults prior to catastrophic failure."

Since joining Auburn in 2002, Lall has become one of the top researchers in the College of Engineering and across the Auburn campus, according to Jeffrey Suhling, chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, who nominated Lall for the Creative Research and Scholarship Award.

"He is an internationally recognized research innovator and a tireless worker," Suhling said.

"In addition to his outstanding research accomplishments, he is an effective and innovative teacher, as evidenced by the student comments in his teaching evaluations. A recent set of student comments stated 'great teacher,'  'most well organized and instructed class,' 'effective teacher,' 'one of the best teachers that I have had at Auburn,' and 'well organized and delivered course.' Other students have pointed out his enthusiasm in class, and his ability to make course content exciting and interesting."

"Auburn University is a wonderful place to work with world-class facilities and friendly people who strive tirelessly to be best in their profession."

— Pradeep Lall

Lall says his family has been his greatest supporters throughout his career. "My dad taught me the importance of a systematic approach and the organization of knowledge," Lall said. "He was the one responsible for instilling in me the self-confidence to take on the toughest of problems. My mom was a school teacher, so I learned all about focus, hard work and single-minded passion from a very young age.

"My wife is a physician and has long work-hours also. One has to be not just good but great at juggling work and home life to keep up with things, and she does it day in and day out. Our children were very young when we moved to Auburn. Somewhere along the way, a little of my engineering has rubbed off on them. They have participated in Science Olympiads at regional, state and national levels.

"I would not be able to put in the long hours without my family's support and encouragement."

Lall has won numerous awards, most recently winning one of Auburn's Creative Research and Scholarship Awards along with Professor Conner Bailey of the College of Agriculture. Lall also won Auburn's 2013 SEC Faculty Achievement Award in April.

He is also a recipient of the College of Engineering's Senior Faculty Research Award and is the founding faculty adviser for Auburn's student chapter of the Surface Mount Technology Association.

Graduate student Shantanu Deshpande and Professor Pradeep Lall

Graduate student Peter Sakalaukus and Professor Pradeep Lall

In 2012 he was named a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, or IEEE, and received the Best of Conference Paper Award at its Electronic Components and Technology Conference. He serves on the Administrative Committee of the IEEE's Reliability Society and is its representative on the IEEE-USA Government Relations Council for Research and Development Policy.

He is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, or ASME, and he chaired the Congress Steering Committee for the 2012-2013 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress. He has served as a member of the National Academies Committee on Electronic Vehicle Controls and Unintended Acceleration and is the recipient of three Motorola Outstanding Innovation Awards and five Motorola Engineering Awards.

Lall holds three U.S. patents and serves as associate editor for the IEEE journal, "Transactions on Components and Packaging Technologies," as well as the ASME "Journal of Electronic Packaging." He has written two books, 13 book chapters and more than 325 journal and conference papers on electronic packaging, as well as design, modeling and predictive techniques.

He earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Delhi, master's and doctorate degrees from the University of Maryland and a Master of Business Administration from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

By Charles Martin, Office of Communications & Marketing

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Last Updated: Oct. 30, 2013

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