Advanced manufacturing expert Daniel Walczyk has been named director of the Center for Automation Technologies and Systems (CATS) at Rensselaer.

Walczyk is a professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering, and a licensed professional engineer in New York state. He earned his master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Rensselaer in 1991.

Daniel Walczyk

Daniel Walczyk

“CATS has a long history of bringing value to our industrial partners and providing unique research opportunities to Rensselaer students,” Walczyk said. “I look forward to building on this legacy of success, and boosting the impact, reach, and visibility of our center in the areas of manufacturing, automation, and robotics.”

Dedicated to advanced manufacturing, CATS helps partner companies leverage the knowledge and expertise of Rensselaer faculty and students toward solving real-world industrial challenges. CATS is a New York state designated Center for Advanced Technology and receives annual funding of nearly $1 million from the Empire State Development (ESD) Division for Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR). Over the past five years, CATS has leveraged this investment to help its industrial partners deliver upward of $259 million in non-job economic impact, create 293 new jobs, and retain 449 jobs in New York.

CATS’ interdisciplinary team of researchers includes nearly 50 Rensselaer faculty members from nine different academic departments across campus. More than 40 Rensselaer students participate in CATS research, and the center employs one business development director, four full-time research technical staff, support staff, and one postdoctoral researcher.

After working in industry for more than six years as a mechanical design engineer, primarily at General Electric, Walczyk joined the Rensselaer faculty in 1996. His research focuses on new manufacturing processes for thermoset and thermoplastic composite parts, biocomposite materials, and membrane electrode assemblies used in fuel cells, as well as additive manufacturing, rapid tooling and fixturing, and biomedical device design and manufacturing.

Walczyk holds seven U.S. patents, plus two pending patents, for his manufacturing innovations and inventions. He developed a profiled-edge lamination tooling device to create large-scale molds and dies, as well as an out-of-autoclave curing method for advanced composites. He also invented the weight-bearing indicator, which is a simple, inexpensive biomedical device that provides biofeedback to patients who are supposed to minimize or avoid overloading an injured leg or foot. Additionally, Walczyk co-invented new machine designs used to automate the industrial process of investment casting.

In 1998, the White House honored Walczyk with the prestigious Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers for his creative advances in rapid tooling methods and development of undergraduate and graduate courses in design and manufacturing.

Walczyk succeeds John Wen as director of CATS. Wen was recently named head of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering.