U of G Engineering Grad Student to Assistant Professor

Posted on Friday, May 24th, 2024

Written by Carley Miki

Dr. Ahmad Z. Naser in the lab with his arms crossed, smiling at the camera.
Dr. Ahmad Z. Naser is set to begin an Assistant Professor position after completing his PhD at U of G

Dr. Ahmad Z. Naser is a recent PhD graduate in Mechanical Engineering and the recipient of the College of Engineering & Physical Sciences Dean’s scholarship in 2021 and 2022. He completed his B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees at the American University of Sharjah prior to commencing his studies at the University of Guelph (U of G) in January 2020. We chatted with him about his experience at U of G and the next steps in his career.

Looking back at your U of G experience, what stands out the most to you?

I had a very positive experience at U of G. My decision to study at U of G was largely influenced by its reputation as a research-intensive institution, which promised rich opportunities for innovation. The city of Guelph is also a welcoming and diverse community. The pleasant environment and the diversity of its people made it an ideal place for personal and academic growth. What really stands out to me is the encouragement I received from my advisor, Dr. Sheng Yang. His patience and understanding were instrumental in my success. Dr. Yang's guidance consistently inspired me to challenge my boundaries and think critically. I will never forget my time with Dr. Yang.

What was your research in and what made you passionate about it?

My PhD research focused on developing data-driven decision-making tools to assess and optimize the sustainability of the additive manufacturing process. Additive manufacturing, commonly known as 3D printing, involves the sequential layering of materials to create objects from a digital model. This has the benefits of enabling complex geometries and reducing material waste. My work included developing machine learning - assisted life cycle assessment, using optimization tools toward optimal product-process co-design, and creating geometric modeling algorithms.

The integration of machine learning and life cycle assessment is gaining momentum, promising to alleviate the burden of extensive knowledge in this area for practitioners and manufacturers. This approach encourages manufacturers to adopt sustainable designs in their products and motivates the development of sustainable solutions, all while saving them time and costs. I am very interested in finding innovative ways to further assist them in this endeavor.

What are your next steps now that you have completed your PhD?

I am currently working as a Research Associate at the University of Guelph. I have recently secured a tenure-track Assistant Professor position in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Manitoba, set to begin in July 2024.

How did your experience at U of G contribute to your path?

I believe that U of G prepared me for a tenure-track position through a combination of rigorous academic training, invaluable mentorship, and innovative research. The comprehensive curriculum and the research opportunities available at Guelph allowed me to deepen my expertise and contribute to cutting-edge developments in my field. My advisor, Dr. Sheng Yang, was particularly influential, providing expert guidance on my research projects and wisdom on navigating the academic landscape. Collectively, these positive experiences at Guelph played an important role in securing my tenure-track position.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years, I aim to lead a green and smart manufacturing lab, fostering a diverse and inclusive environment with students from various cultures, backgrounds, and ethnic minorities. I am dedicated to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), engaging Indigenous students and combating Anti-Black Racism. My time at the U of G played a role in shaping these views on EDI. The diverse academic community and the various initiatives undertaken by the university provided an understanding of the significance of inclusivity in any educational institute. Additionally, I hope to continue publishing high-impact research that significantly improves community living standards and promotes sustainable practices.

What advice would you give to students following a similar career path?

Following a similar career path is a long journey that demands perseverance and self-motivation. It is critical to establish a strong and supportive relationship with your advisor. Further, immerse yourself in your field through continuous learning and networking, and seek out opportunities for collaboration and innovation. Keep a positive outlook and dedicate yourself to your work, and success will follow.

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