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Purdue Northwest prof wins steel association's first-ever digital technology grant

Chenn Zhou

Purdue University Northwest Professor Chenn Zhou, who runs the university's 3D simulation labs, won the Association for Iron & Steel Technology Foundation's first Digital Transformation Technologies Grant.

The Pennsylvania-based nonprofit foundation, which aims to attract more technology-oriented professionals to the steel industry, established the grant award of $20,000 this year. The award aims to "challenge university teams from engineering, scientific and mathematical departments at North American universities to submit proposals for grant funding in the theme area of digital technology within the steel industry, including machine learning, big data, simulation, augmented reality, cloud computing, additive manufacturing, system integration, autonomous robotics, Industrial Internet of Things and cybersecurity, among other related technologies."

The goal is to support college professors who promote the steel industry to students who are interested in careers working with digital technology.

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Zhou, a professor of mechanical engineering, directs the Center for Innovation Through Visualization and Simulation and the Steel Manufacturing Simulation and Visualization Consortium at Purdue University Northwest's Hammond campus. They use 3D simulation technology to solve technical problems at blast furnaces and other industrial operations in the Region and beyond.

She proposed plans to develop a new tool that delves into steel casting temperature in the ladle process in her pitch "Smart Ladle: AI-Based Tool for Optimizing Casting Temperature." 

"I really appreciate AIST's vision and support for promoting digital transformation to the steel industry and to engineering education," she said. "We look forward to working with this exciting smart ladle project in collaboration with our mentors in the Steel Manufacturing Simulation and Visualization Consortium. This grant provides great opportunities for our students to learn digital technologies through solving real-world problems in the steel industry."

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.