Drexel Engineering Welcomes New Faculty for 2020-2021 Academic Year

Drexel Engineering is pleased to welcome four new faculty members this month.

Johanna Casale
Johanna Casale

Johanna Casale joins the Construction Management program as assistant teaching professor. She had been teaching in the program as an adjunct professor since 2017. Casale holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and an master’s in structural engineering from Rutgers University–New Brunswick, where she will also receive her PhD in engineering education this year. Her research interests are in pedagogical methods and conceptual change in mechanics (statics, dynamics, solid mechanics) and first-year design courses, but her passion is in teaching. She also has a connection to Drexel Engineering through her father, a two-time alumnus with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Civil Engineering.

“I look forward to meeting all the Drexel Engineering first-year students and introducing them to the exhilarating world of engineering,” shares Casale. “I am also excited to continue working with the Construction Management students and faculty."

Dimitrios Fafalis
Dr. Dimitrios Fafalis

Dimitrios Fafalis, PhD, joins the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics in September as assistant teaching professor. Fafalis joins MEM after a postdoctoral fellowship in mechanical engineering at Columbia University, where he completed his PhD. He received master’s degrees in Automation Systems, the Computational Mechanics of Solids, and Technology Management from the National Technical University of Athens and a bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering and Aeronautics from the University of Patras in Greece. His research focuses on mathematical modeling of advanced materials for biomedical, aerospace, and construction applications. As a postdoctoral research scientist, Fafalis worked on a biomedical engineering project to design high precision micro-needles for the diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss disorders. At Drexel, he will teach courses in finite element methods and plasticity, as well as new undergraduate technical electives, and mentoring senior design teams.
“Technology is changing rapidly and so university curricula should be able to adapt,” Fafalis says. “I see myself as a translator — a professor who can bring fresh ideas from Drexel’s research laboratories to the classroom so that Drexel’s students may have experiential learning opportunities that are relevant and at the bleeding edge.”

David Han
Dr. David Han

David Han, PhD, joins the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering as the inaugural holder of the Bruce Eisenstein Endowed Chair. Han is Senior Scientist of Artificial Intelligence in the Information Sciences Division of the CCDC Army Research Laboratory in Adelphi, MD. He is an ASME Fellow and an IEEE senior member. Han received his bachelor’s from Carnegie-Mellon University and master’s and PhD from Johns Hopkins University. He has previously held positions as a research and faculty member at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and the University of Maryland at College Park, and has additionally served as Distinguished IWS Chair Professor at the US Naval Academy. He spent over 11 years as a program officer at the Office of Naval Research and served as its Deputy Director of Research, overseeing the Discovery and Invention portfolio of over $900 million from 2012 to 2014. He also served as Associate Director for Basic Research in Machine Intelligence and Robotics in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense Research & Engineering from 2014 to 2016, helping to oversee an over $2 billion annual research portfolio. Han has authored or coauthored over 100 peer-reviewed papers, including four book chapters. His current research interests include computer vision, speech recognition, machine learning, and robotics.

“While AI has become ubiquitous in our daily lives, we often feel frustrated with devices such as Alexa or Siri for their total lack of understanding of our situations or intentions,” reflects Han. “I plan to explore ways to enable AI to gain better understanding of our conditions and thoughts so that it becomes more useful in helping us.”

Finley Shapiro
Dr. Finley Shapiro

Finley Shapiro, PhD, joins the Department of Engineering Technology as assistant clinical professor. He holds a PhD in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an MBA from Temple University, and is licensed as a Professional Engineer in five states and the District of Columbia. Shapiro previously taught at Drexel in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, during which time he was a faculty advisor to the first two solar powered race car teams and led the Drexel Electric Minibus Project. Since then, he has taught solar energy system design in the Department of Architectural Engineering at Penn State University, and electrical engineering at Temple and Villanova Universities. Shapiro's experience in industry includes the design of solar energy systems, forensic investigations of fires and other electrical accidents, arc flash hazard analysis, and database development. He has also been the chief operating officer of a start-up solar panel manufacturer, and has published articles on electrical safety and fires in solar arrays. Most recently he has been working on interconnections between solar energy systems and electric power systems in buildings, and on combining solar electricity generation and agriculture.

Additionally, two faculty members will join the College of Engineering beginning in January 2021.

Megan Creighton
Dr. Megan Creighton

Megan Creighton, PhD, will join the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering as assistant professor. She is currently serving on a fellowship through the National Research Council in the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate of the Air Force Research Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio. She is jointly appointed in the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a research fellow in the laboratory of Professor A. John Hart. Prior to this current role, Creighton was a Senior Research Engineer in the 3M Corporate Research Materials Laboratory in St. Paul, Minnesota. She served as the corporate subject matter expert in carbon materials and worked on technology development in support of all five of the company's business groups. She received her PhD in chemical and environmental engineering from Brown University from the lab of Professor Robert Hurt and her BS in chemical engineering from the University of New Hampshire. At Drexel, Creighton's research efforts will focus on nanomaterial colloids and surface science.

“The realization of the potential societal benefits of new technologies depends on their ability to be scaled and manufactured,” says Creighton. “My interests lie in both developing fundamental understanding of these systems and balancing that with practical impact on the safe and sustainable development of advanced materials and devices.”

Yong-Jie Hu
Dr. Yong-Jie Hu

Yong-Jie Hu, PhD, will join the Department of Materials Science and Engineering as assistant professor. He is currently a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan. He previously served as a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University, where he also received his PhD. He additionally holds an MS degree in materials science from Tohoku University, Japan and a BE degree from Tsinghua University, China. He has received the STT Scholarship from the Foundation of Computational Thermodynamics and the Japanese Government Scholarship. His research interests are in computational materials science, with an emphasis on modeling of mechanical, thermodynamic, and electronic properties of materials for structural and functional applications. Through integrating multiscale simulations and machine learning, his research at Drexel will aim to develop new theories, approaches, and databases to build more quantitative insights into the composition-structure-property relationships for the design and manufacturing of new materials.

“I am very honored and excited to be a part of Drexel!” says Hu. “By working with our outstanding students and colleagues, I look forward to leveraging my expertise in computational materials science to continuously develop creative, collaborative, and diversified teaching and research activities in the future.”