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Women In Engineering: Keerti S. Kappagantula

April 30, 2019
Source: ASM International

This profile series introduces leading materials scientists from around the world who happen to be females. Here we speak with Keerti S. Kappagantula, mechanical engineer at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, Wash.

What is your engineering background?

While I am trained as a mechanical engineer, my work has been predominantly in materials development. I have worked to leverage the unique properties of nanomaterials to develop high-performance metal, ceramic, and polymer systems.

What part of your job do you like most?

PNNL’s Energy Processes and Materials Division, especially the Applied Materials and Manufacturing Group where I work, interacts extensively with industry to develop product and process solutions that are regularly translated into market-scale technology. For me, that is very exciting—to see lab-scale inventions mushroom into widespread use. My favorite part of each day is interacting with—and constantly learning from—my colleagues at PNNL, who are focused on delivering groundbreaking technological advances. It is exhilarating to work in an environment with such positive energy.

What attracted you to engineering?

I was, and continue to be, fascinated by engineering’s ability to effectively transform science into technology.

Did you ever consider doing something else with your life besides engineering?

In high school, I wanted to become a writer. But after I understood the beauty of calculus, my focus became engineering. Now, a major part of my job as a scientist is research communications. So I get to be a writer after all.

What are you working on now?

I am a part of a PNNL research group that is developing a disruptive metals manufacturing approach called solid phase processing (SPP). We focus on realizing a wide range of high-performance alloys, semi-finished products, and engineered assemblies without melting the constituents. SPP provides a better and cheaper platform than conventional melt manufacturing. We are talking about processes that can provide a distinct competitive advantage to the U.S. manufacturing sector, because SPP can make better, cheaper, and greener (less energy-intensive) materials.

If a young person approached you for career advice about pursuing engineering, what would you tell them?

Network. Never stop asking questions.



Last book read?

“The Paradox of Choice” by Barry Schwartz.


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