Secor Brings Family History and Aerosol Inkjet Experience to Iowa

        Ethan Secor’s family has a long history of working at Iowa State University. Among them are his grandfather Gerald Secor (BS ’48), as well as 15 living ISU alumni who are over a century old. Secor will continue this family tradition by joining the ME department as an Associate Professor in Fall 2020.
        Secor grew up in Stillwater, Minnesota, about 25 miles northeast of Minneapolis. He was attracted to STEM fields because of his father, Robert, who worked as a chemical engineer at 3M.
       “Growing up, I always loved learning how things work and finding ways to apply science and math to solve problems,” Secor said.
        Secor majored in chemistry and physics as an undergraduate student at Drake University and later earned a Ph.D. degree in materials science and engineering from Northwestern University. With experience in these areas, he will bring a unique perspective to the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Iowa State University.
       “My background in chemistry and physics provided a solid foundation for my research, while my diploma in materials science and engineering brought my attention to applied engineering problems,” he said.
        Secor has been a Harry S. Truman Fellow at Sandia National Laboratory since 2017. There he worked on a digital printing technique called aerosol inkjet printing. He first used an aerosol inkjet printer in graduate school, but learned how to build one at Sandia. According to him, this knowledge provides greater flexibility in configuring devices to explore new concepts and push the technological frontiers. His main focus is on the printing of electronic materials and devices, and on improving understanding and control of the printing process itself.
        “My work at Sandia facilitated my transition into mechanical engineering,” Secor said. “For the most part, when you start doing practical research and solving real problems, the boundaries between disciplines become less meaningful and obvious.”
        At Iowa State University, Secor will teach ME 324 Manufacturing Engineering, ME 345 Engineering Dynamics, and ME 370 Engineering Measurement. It will also set up a research laboratory focused on advanced manufacturing. In particular, he hopes to expand the functionality and capabilities of aerosol inkjet printing while simultaneously applying it to electronics, energy, and sensors.
        He said he looks forward to working with researchers at the Iowa Department of Medicine, who have expertise in advanced imaging and machine learning. He also looks forward to collaborating with others on campus who are interested in the field of printed electronics.
        In addition to collaborating with other teachers, he is happy to be back in the classroom and mentor students in the lab. He says that the desire to learn is one of the most important qualities he looks for in students. When his lab recruits graduate students, he looks for someone who is interested in his research, willing to learn, fairly self-reliant, and able to push boundaries with ease.
       “My research tends to be interdisciplinary, so a wide range of interests, the ability to work well with others, and a willingness to ask questions are key factors,” he said.
        When not busy in classrooms and labs, he enjoys running and competing in triathlons. He also enjoys hiking, camping, canoeing and exploring national parks with his wife Samantha. He said that Yosemite and Mount Rainier are definitely one of his favorite parks. But now he’s looking forward to returning to Iowa to explore all that Ames has to offer.
        “The Iowa State University Department of Mechanical Engineering is impressive in scope and truly transcends traditional mechanical engineering topics, evolving with technology and the needs of society. This is a department where I feel at home and also have a unique set of skills to collaborate effectively and learn a lot along the way.”

Post time: Jul-03-2023