Dr. Abhendra Singh
Faith always material to the work of Mechanical Engineering assistant professor
Dr. Abhendra Singh joined Baylor faculty in 2019. Originally from the Fiji Islands, Singh came to the United States in 2007 to get his masters at Syracuse University. He stayed on for his Ph.D. and, after graduating in 2013, worked as a post-doctoral research scholar at The Pennsylvania State University in 2014-15. At that point, he was selected for the prestigious National Research Council Postdoctoral research fellowship at the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. There he spent two years researching on ceramic matrix and other multifunctional composites. After his fellowship at AFIT, he spent two years working as a visiting assistant professor at Purdue University Northwest in Hammond, Indiana (greater Chicago Area), before being hired by Baylor as an assistant professor in 2019.
Tell us about your research experience, your current research and what research you hope to do in the future?
My overall training is in composite materials for a variety of applications. My M.S. research and Ph.D. dissertation were in sandwich composites (a special category of composite materials created by attaching two thin but stiff outer layers to a lightweight but thick central core layer, like a sandwich. The core material is normally low strength material, but its higher thickness provides the sandwich composite with high bending stiffness with overall low density) on projects funded by the Office of Naval Research and NASA, respectively. At Penn State in my first post-doc I worked on structural batteries for automobile applications where we used the sandwich composite technology to develop working batteries that could carry mechanical load. The project was funded by DARPA through a seedling grant.
In my second post-doc, which was at AFIT, I was introduced to ceramic matrix composites for gas turbine applications, and my research involved exposing them to high velocity oxygen flames while simultaneously testing them mechanically in tension, fatigue and creep.
I most enjoy working in ceramic based composites which is my present research focus at Baylor. Ceramics are brittle on their own but, when you reinforce them with fibers that are made of ceramics as well, you enhance their load-carrying ability while maintaining their high temperature withstanding capabilities.
Currently at Baylor, I have funded projects from Spirit AeroSystems and National Institute of Aviation Research, the latter primarily sponsored by the U.S. Army. Both are primarily on ceramic matrix composites for high temperature applications. There are other proposals under consideration, and collaborations are building with both industry and federal labs on ceramics related topics.
What is your favorite part of the research you do, and what legacy do you hope to leave with your research?
There is not a single favorite, but I really enjoy reading papers on related work by other people, disseminating my own work through journal publications, as well as working with my graduate students. Collaboration with federal organizations like the U.S. Army is very satisfying because you are affecting the soldier and impacting their safety with gifts God has given you. It is a privilege to give small intellectual contributions for those who serve our country.
I’m not very high-minded about my personal legacy, but I want to do and publish quality research. And, I want my students who come through the doorsteps of my lab and see me as a mentor to thrive and to excel in life more than me. You teach them the fundamentals of doing research, and then you send them into the field to go and excel, giving them guidance when they need you. That is what my Ph.D. advisor did and still does for me. I still remember my first-grade teacher with a lot of respect because she taught me to write and count. No matter how far I rise in academia, she will always be my first teacher. For me, some things and relationships just don’t change with time.
What accomplishments are you proudest of?
Coming to know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, which is really His accomplishment for me. We are favored and blessed for eternity for the price He paid for us on the cross. Professionally, I am proud to have been selected for the All-University Doctoral Prize at Syracuse University in my year of graduation and to have received the National Research Council post-doctoral fellowship opportunity with the Air Force.
You have mentioned that your faith is important to you.
It is the most important thing to me. I have seen His hand guiding me, and I know He will faithfully keep guiding me until He ushers me into the next life. His word sustains and empowers me. I am blessed with a godly wife (Shanti) two daughters (Mahima and Prerana) and a very loving extended family. Professionally, He has given me wonderful educational opportunities, great scientific mentors and guidance in my career path at Baylor. I pray I remain submissive to His will so that His purposes for my life are fully accomplished. May God continue to have His hand upon Baylor!