Robert Minneci is a third-year Ph.D. candidate in the department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK), who is working with his advisor, Dr. Claudia Rawn. Mr. Minneci recently completed a concurrent non-thesis master’s degree in MSE during the summer of 2018. In addition to CMP financial support, Mr. Minneci is supported via a NASA membership in the Manufacturing and Materials Joining Innovation Center (Ma2JIC). The National Science Foundation (NSF) provides administrative funds for the UTK Ma2JIC site while various industrial memberships support graduate students.
Mr. Minneci’s research interests lie broadly in additive manufacturing research and development and diffraction-based research and characterization using both X-ray and neutron scattering techniques. His current research project involves working closely with staff from both NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville, Alabama, and Glen Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, on the development of an additively-manufactured copper-based alloy that is used by NASA for high-temperature applications. He has conducted experiments (with more planned for the future) at the Neutron Residual Stress Facility (NRSF2) beamline at ORNL’s High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) and the Spallation Neutron Source’s (SNS) VULCAN Engineering Materials Diffractometer. These experiments focus on (1) determining the residual stresses of alloy builds that have experienced large temperature gradients during fabrication, (2) determining the residual stresses caused by shape and thermal mismatch between the alloys that make up the build, and (3) in-situ mechanical testing. As part of this research, Mr. Minneci mentored an undergraduate student, Mr. Jared Floyd, through a Veterans Research Supplement that was funded by the NSF in 2017. Mr. Floyd assisted in data collection and sample preparation for a neutron experiment and assisted Mr. Minneci with sample preparation, metallography, and characterization. In addition to his research, Mr. Minneci was the graduate teaching assistant for both the senior/graduate-level course in materials characterization using X-ray diffraction and one of the MSE senior design groups during the 2017-2018 academic year. Mr. Minneci has served as a teaching assistant (TA) for the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Sciences and Engineering in 2015, 2017, and 2018.
Prior to becoming a graduate student, Mr. Minneci earned his bachelor’s degree in MSE at UTK with honors distinction in May 2016. During his time as an undergraduate, he was a Higher Education Research Experience (HERE) intern at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in the polymers research division at the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (MDF). Mr. Minneci worked with large- and small-scale thermoplastic printers and small-scale thermoset printers to perform composite fabrication and design. During his undergraduate career, Mr. Minneci synthesized and post processed anionic clays as an undergraduate research assistant for Dr. Rawn. Wet chemistry synthesis, post processing at high temperatures and pressures, and characterization of the final product using X-ray powder diffraction were techniques included in this research.