Research Centers and Focus Areas

The William States Lee College of Engineering is committed to applied, interdisciplinary research. Alliances of students, faculty and community partners combine their research efforts to create knowledge, develop technology and improve the world around us.

UNC Charlotte Institutional Centers

AIR: The Charlotte Aviation Innovation and Research Center

Dr. Tara Cavalline, Co-Director
Dr. Srinivas Pulugurtha, Co-Director

The Charlotte Aviation Innovation and Research (AIR) Institute seeks to propel North Carolina’s vitality through workforce development, economic growth, social mobility, and transformative research by leveraging UNC Charlotte’s relationships and collaborations with Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Sullenberger Aviation Museum, airline industry partners and the Federal Aviation Administration.

BATT CAVE: North Carolina Battery Complexity, Autonomous Vehicle and Electrification Research Center

Dr. Tiefu Zhao, Interim Director

The North Carolina Battery Complexity, Autonomous Vehicle and Electrification Research Center (BATT CAVE) is driving innovation by unraveling the intricate world of batteries and their applications that will drive the next generation of autonomous vehicles, smart cities, and intelligence systems.

CBES: Center for Biomedical Engineering Science

Dr. Charles Lee, Director

Bringing together an interdisciplinary collection of faculty, researchers, clinicians and practitioners, the Center for Biomedical Engineering Science (CBES) provides an essential collaborative environment for solving biomedical issues. CBES is organized into four focus areas: Applied Cancer Technology and Therapeutics (ACT2), Medical Therapies and Technologies (MTT), Biomechanics and Mobility Research (BMR), and Molecular Engineering and Design (MED).

CPM: Center for Precision Metrology

Dr. Ed Morse, Director

The Center for Precision Metrology is an interdisciplinary association of faculty and student researchers at the University, allied with industrial partners in the research, development and integration of precision metrology as applied to manufacturing. Working with dimensional tolerances on the order of 10 parts per million or better, precision metrology encompasses the methods of production and inspection in manufacturing, measurement, algorithms, tolerance representation, and the integration of metrology into factory quality systems.

EPIC: Energy Production and Infrastructure Center

Dr. Mike Mazzola, Executive Director

The Energy Production and Infrastructure Center (EPIC), formed through private and public funding, has an extramural-funded research program that is “additive” to existing departmental activities. With the ability to use dedicated full-time staff, and by recruiting faculty from UNC Charlotte and outside institutions, EPIC is able to successfully tackle cross-cutting, multidisciplinary, large research projects such as: digital twin power system models for hybrid technology configurations, electric vehicle charging impact on utility loads and systems, electric charging of rolling stock, energy data analytics, and smart grids. Funding sources include federal agencies such as the Department of Energy, Department of Transportation, National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, along with a diverse range of industry partners.

W.S. Lee College of Engineering Research Centers

CAMMSE: Center for Advanced Multimodal Mobility Solutions and Education

Dr. Wei Fan, Director

  • multimodal mobility
  • big data analytics in transportation (safety and travel behavior)
  • connected autonomous vehicles: impacts, simulation and control
Center for Optoelectronics and Optical Communications

Dr. Glenn Boreman, Director

Department-Led Research

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Dr. Glenn Moglen, Department Chair

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) has research specialties in areas including environmental and water resources engineering, geo-environmental engineering, geotechnical engineering, structural engineering, transportation engineering, sustainable and resilient design, planning and designing for climate change, all elements of construction, novel and innovative applications (such as the use of artificial intelligence), and sensitivity to matters of equity and access in public spaces. Some example projects include; advanced multimodal mobility solutions, SARS-CoV-2 tracking in the wastewater of smaller municipal systems, finite element modelling of a staged constructed tunnel, equity analysis for long range transportation planning, and passive samplers for per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances.

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Dr. Asis Nasipuri, Department Chair

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering‘s (ECE) faculty conduct research in a broad range of areas including communications and networking, robotics and control, signal and image processing, computer hardware and software, distributed and real-time systems, electromagnetics, electronic and optical devices, power and energy systems, power electronics, engineering education, and others. ECE faculty are heavily engaged in working with graduate and undergraduate students in their projects. Most research projects are sponsored by federal, state, and private funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, Department of Defense, NC State Energy Agency, Department of Transportation, Duke Energy, EPRI, Siemens Energy and many others.

Some of the current active projects include real-time AI for public safety, hardware security for the Internet of Things (IoT), timely information transfer for communication networks, biomedical imaging, power-grid control and resiliency, wireless power transfer for smart transportation, and novel solar-cell technologies.

Research areas:

  • Communication, Control and Signal Processing
  • Computer Systems
  • Devices, Circuits and Systems
  • Machine Learning and AI
  • Engineering Education
Engineering Technology and Construction Management

Dr. Lingguang Song, Department Chair

Faculty within the Department of Engineering Technology and Construction Management (ETCM) conduct research in a broad range of areas spanning renewable energy sources, infrastructure and construction materials, cybersecurity for manufacturing, construction safety and health, mobility, and innovation in education. ETCM faculty actively engage undergraduate and graduate students in their research, which is supported through agencies and institutes such as the NCDOT, National Science Foundation, UNC Coastal Studies Institute, the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Energy. Projects include advance pavement materials for NC state highways, testing of marine energy devices, development of tools to enhance the cybersecurity of US manufacturing, and assessment of photovoltaic systems in snow-prone environments.

Research areas:

  • Infrastructure System and Resilience
  • Energy Transition and Sustainability
  • Advanced Manufacturing and Security
  • Safety and Health
  • Digital Transformation
  • Innovation in Engineering Education and Workforce Training
Industrial and Systems Engineering

Dr. Simon Hsiang, Department Chair

Within Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) research encompasses a wide range of optimization and logistical challenges associated with diverse applications such as transport, energy, and healthcare. Some sample projects include solar power and net load forecasting, data-driven models to allocate resources in emergency departments, integration of marine renewables into the power grid, microtransit optimization, and Wi-Fi log data processing methodologies. Funding sources include the Department of Energy, Stanford Health Care, and the NCDOT.

Research areas:

  • Energy Systems
  • Healthcare Systems
  • Transportation Systems
  • Logistics and Manufacturing Systems
  • Decision and Risk Analysis
  • Optimization
Mechanical Engineering

Dr. Harish Cherukuri, Department Chair

Research within the Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Science Department is focused in six primary areas: manufacturing and metrology, computational mechanics and materials, battery and autonomous vehicles electrification, bioengineering, thermal fluids science, and dynamics and controls. Within these areas, students work with talented faculty on a wide range of projects supported by industry, state, and federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy and Department of Defense. Example research topics include additive manufacture of ceramic and metal components; improving the mobility and energy-efficiency of heterogeneous traffic environments consisting of both human-driven and autonomous vehicles; advance fundamental understanding of the solid electrolyte interphase chemistry and morphology evolution during the battery operation; advance medical device development and lead to innovative treatments for neurological diseases; dynamics and control of multi-agent mechanical systems; and leveraging machine learning and AI for the measurement and assessment of a component’s surface and dimensional features.

  • Advanced manufacturing and metrology
  • Bioengineering
  • Computational mechanics and materials
  • Dynamics and controls
  • Motorsports engineering
  • Thermal–fluids science