A Global Collaboration

Founded in 1970, Lehigh’s Institute for Metal Forming (IMF) has long educated students in the principles and applications of metal-forming technology, supported graduate research, and helped industry solve problems in metal forming.

Since he was appointed IMF director in 1997, Wojciech Misiolek has had a specific vision for its future: international collaboration.

“I immediately recognized that we needed to work with the best in the field, both in the U.S. and abroad,” says Misiolek, the Loewy Chair in Materials Forming and Processing. “We have sought to build a network of collaborative projects, which would mainly benefit Lehigh’s graduate programs.”

Misiolek’s global vision has become reality through the support of the Loewy Family Foundation. Established in 1966, the foundation honors the legacy of brothers Erwin and Ludwig Loewy, who fled Nazi Germany just before World War II and later revolutionized large metal parts manufacturing in England and the United States. It ranks support for higher education among its top priorities.

Loewy Family Foundation support has enabled Misiolek and IMF graduate students to gain valuable research and teaching experiences through exchanges with research institutions in Australia, Austria, Brazil, Colombia, Germany, New Zealand, Norway and Poland.

The Loewy Visiting Professor position, established in 1999, has brought to Lehigh noted researchers with unique expertise. This year, the IMF has brought three visiting professors to Lehigh: 2015-16 Loewy Visiting Professor Alejandro Toro of the National University of Colombia, Henry Valberg of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and André Luiz Costa of the Federal University of Sergipe, Brazil.

“Over the years we have had the remarkable privilege to host truly outstanding scientists from around the world,” says Misiolek.

On April 29, 2016, the IMF will become the Loewy Institute in recognition of the continued support of the foundation. The work of Erwin and Ludwig Loewy in England and America revolutionized airplane manufacturing through the design and construction of enormous forging and extrusion presses that changed the way fighter planes were built in war time. Later, it made way for the development of the commercial airline industry and breaking of the sound barrier.

Today, the institute that soon will bear the Loewy name continues research on materials such as aluminum, copper and magnesium alloys, and on—believe it or not—snake skin. Misiolek, Toro, and Hisham Abdel-Aal of Drexel University have joined forces to analyze the characteristics of the skin of the albino python and boa constrictor.

“We want to learn how nature created this skin, because we know it works so well,” says Misiolek. “If we learn that, we may be able to mimic that—not copy it, but apply the same concepts to designing new material applications.”

Wojciech Misiolek conducts interdisciplinary research in materials processing and process engineering. He received his Ph.D. from AGH University of Science and Technology in Kraków, Poland. 

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