Rising sophomore Sarah Paguaga said all she was planning to do was drop off her homework in Fadi Abdeljawad’s office when the assistant professor called her in to tell her about research opportunities.
The conversation led Paguaga to join a project to conduct research alongside undergraduate and graduate students in Abdeljawad’s group as part of a National Science Foundation program called Research Experiences for Undergraduates.
“You can really tell he cares about what we’re getting out of it and what we’re learning, and he’s a great teacher,” Paguaga said. “He can present anything with enthusiasm.”
Abdeljawad’s work in the lab and classroom was recognized recently when he became the first Stanzione Assistant Professors in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.
The professorship was made possible by a $2.5-million Cornerstone Gift from Bob and Kaye Stanzione, a portion of which was earmarked to support mechanical engineering faculty. Bob earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Clemson in 1969.
“It’s a great honor to be named Stanzione professor,” Abdeljawad said. “First, I would like to thank Bob and Kaye Stanzione for their generous support of our students and faculty. This recognition is a great milestone for me personally, but it is also a testament to the great work that my undergraduate and graduate students do in our lab.”
Abdeljawad, who holds a joint appointment in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, has brought a wealth of experience to Clemson.
He received bachelor’s degrees from North Carolina State University and then worked for two years as an aircraft stress engineer for Sikorsky Aircraft. Abdeljawad went back to school, this time at Princeton University, and received his master’s and Ph.D. degrees with a primary focus on theoretical and computational materials science.
Abdeljawad later worked for Sandia National Laboratories as a Senior Member of Technical Staff in the Computational Materials and Data Science Department.
He joined Clemson in fall 2018 because he wanted to teach.
“I’ve always wanted to pursue an academic career,” Abdeljawad said. “Both my parents were teachers– my dad was a college lecturer, and my mom was a high school teacher. They were my role models. Growing up in that environment, I have always appreciated their passion for teaching and their caring for students.”
Abdeljawad’s research aims to better understand nanomaterials with a specific focus on interfaces. The research could help lead to a range of innovations, including new energy technologies, lighter and stronger structures, and miniaturized devices.
Omar Hussein, a Ph.D. student in Abdeljawad’s group, said he met with Abdeljawad online in 2019 while choosing an advisor and was drawn to his enthusiasm.
“Working with Dr. Fadi’s group has been an awesome experience,” Hussein said. “He is the type of advisor who always pushes you to have a deeper understanding. From my first day until now, I have seen a transformation in my skill set and my approach to tackling engineering problems, thanks to Dr. Fadi.”
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