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Dr. Faez Ahmed’s Proposal Funded

Our Postdoc, Dr. Faez Ahmed, who was already offered a faculty position at MIT before joining us at IDEAL, has received funding for his first proposal, together with Co-PI Dr. Daniel Frey! The title of his project is AI-driven Design Synthesis for Personalized Bicycles, awarded by the MechE Mathworks Seed Fund Program for $100k in Year 1. The goal of the project is to develop an automated method to generate new bicycle designs which meet the specific needs of a user, hence increasing access to bicycles for a broader spectrum of people. Congratulations!

Umar, Anton Awarded at Proposal Competition

Lab members Umar Ghumman and Anton van Beek were each awarded Honorable Mention at the inaugural Mechanical Engineering PhD Proposal Pitch Competition (PPC) on  April 30, 2020! The competition consisted of five teams pitching innovative research proposals to a panel of faculty judges. Umar’s team presented, “Data-driven process-structure-property-performance (PSPP) framework for additive manufacturing alloy design”, while Anton’s proposed, “Molecular structure discovery of fluid molecules with desired physical properties“. Congratulations to both teams!

Summer Graduation 2019

Congratulations to Ramin Bostanabad, Youyi Bi, Jun Lu, Jian Xie, and Wenyu Han, who have completed their study at Northwestern and joined the alumni of IDEAL as of this summer!

Ramin and Youyi finished their terms as postdoctoral researchers at IDEAL. We had a summer party in June to celebrate together with lab alumni Dr. Xiaolin Li, who came back to Evanston for his Ph.D. hooding ceremony. Professor Cate Brinson of Duke University, co-adviser of Xiaolin, and some of her students also joined the party.

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Summer party

Ramin will work as an Assistant Professor at the University of California, Irvine, and Youyi accepted a faculty position at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China.

Wenyu, a Masters student, graduated in June.

Jun Lu and Jian Xie were predoctoral visiting students from China. Both of them joined IDEAL two years ago and they will return to China to finish their Ph.D. studies in September.

Group lunch with Jian

Congratulations to the new alumni. We wish them all the best!


IDEAL attends IDETC 2019

We attended the 2019 ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference (IDETC/CIE2019) in Anaheim, CA.

Several of the IDEAL members received awards during the conference. Anton van Beek and Siyu Tao, our Ph. D. students, won the Best Paper Award from the Design Automation Conference (DAC). This is the fourth time our work has been recognized by DAC.

Best Paper Award from DAC

Prof. Wei Chen received the Robert Abbott Award from the ASME Design Engineering Division for her service on behalf of the Division and the Society. She was also part of the Design Automation Conference Keynote panel for “New Perspectives on Leadership in Engineering Design”.

Prof. Zhenghui Sha of the University of Arkansas, an IDEAL alumni, was awarded the Best Paper Award from the CIE Conference with his students.

As always, we had an illuminating and productive time at IDETC, and reunited with a lot of friends and alumni.

Group photo with IDEAL alumni and Profs. Farrokh Mistree and Janet Allen


We had four publications at this conference:

  • Xie, J., Bi, Y., Sha, Z., Wang, M., Fu, Y., Contractor, N., Gong, Li, and Chen, W., “Data-Driven Dynamic Network Modeling for Analyzing the Evolution of Product Competitions”, ASME 2019 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences & Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, IDETC2019-98385, August 18-21, Anaheim, CA.
  • Iyer, A., Zhang, Y., Prasad, A., Tao, T., Wang, Y., Schadler, L., Brinson, C.B., Chen, W, “Data-Driven Mixed-Variable Bayesian Optimization for Materials Design,” ASME 2019 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences & Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, IDETC2019-98222, August 18-21, Anaheim, CA.
  • Van Beek, A., Tao, S., and Chen, W., “Global Emulation through Normative Decision Making and Thrifty Adaptive Batch Sampling”, ASME 2019 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences & Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, IDETC2019-98223, August 18-21, Anaheim, CA.
  • Bostanabad, R., Chan Y-C., Wang, L., Zhu, P., and Chen, W., “Globally Approximate Gaussian Processes for Big Data with an Application to Data-driven Metamaterials Design”, ASME 2019 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences & Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, IDETC2019-98027, August 18-21, Anaheim, CA.

Prof. Wei Chen elected president of ISSMO

Prof. Wei Chen and IDEAL alumni attended the 13th World Congress of Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization (WCSMO 13). During the congress, Prof. Chen was elected President of the International Society of Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization (ISSMO). She was invited to give a state-of-the-art (SOTA) panel talk on “Machine Learning and Data-Driven Techniques: Status and Opportunities”.

Prof. Chen and collaborators also presented our research in SMO area:

  • A latent variable approach to mixed-variable gaussian process modeling with grouped qualitative variables (Siyu Tao, Daniel W. Apley, Wei Chen)
  • Metamaterial genome with novel geometrical representation based on Laplace-Beltrami spectrum (Liwei Wang, Zhao Liu, Yu-Chin Chan, Wei Chen, Ping Zhu)

Dr. Chen presents at the SOTA discussion panel


Dr. Chen and IDEAL Alumni
(From left: Shikui Chen, Hongyi Xu, Wei Chen, Kohei Shintani, Dixiong Yang)


Ramin defends Ph.D. dissertation

IDEAL student Ramin Bostanabad successfully defended his Ph.D. dissertation, titled Quantification of Microstructure Induced Uncertainty in Multiscale Materials with Random Processes, today in the Mechanical Engineering conference room. Congratulations, Ramin!

Following his planned graduation this quarter, Ramin will start as a postdoc here in IDEAL.

Prof. Wei Chen elected to NAE

Congratulations to Prof. Chen for her election to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE)! The NAE cited Prof. Chen for her “contributions to design under uncertainty in products and systems, and leadership in the engineering design community.”

Read the full news on McCormick’s website:


IDEAL attends USACM UQ workshop

Prof. Wei Chen

Prof. Wei Chen and two IDEAL students, Anton van Beek and Tianyu Huang, attended the USACM Thematic Conference on Uncertainty Quantification (UQ) in Computational Solid and Structural Materials Modeling, held on January 17-18, 2019 on the campus of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. The conference was sponsored by the USACM UQ Thrust Area. Prof. Chen was invited to give a talk titled ‘Multiscale and Multidimensional Uncertainty Quantification in Integrated Computational Materials Engineering’, and the two students presented our lab’s work with a poster presentation titled ‘Multiscale and Multidimensional Quantification and Propagation of Manufacturing Induced Uncertainty in Fiber Reinforced Composites’. The work was a joint effort with Prof. Jian Cao‘s and Prof. Wing Kam Liu‘s groups and researchers from the Ford Motor Company.


IDEAL launches new lab website

New year, new look. We have just rebuilt our website and now it has some new contents and updated look. Check it out!

New features:

  1. The new website is built with the university template and has a more consistent look with other NU sites.
  2. Updated research descriptions, faculty/student information, and publication lists.
  3. A news section is added featuring lab events and achievements.
  4. You can request our selected codes on the new software page.
  5. You can quickly find our journal publications by year.