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Steven McKnight, New CMMI Division Director

Steven McKnight

Steven McKnight

August 17, 2009

Steven McKnight to Lead Civil, Mechanical, and Manufacturing Innovation Division

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has selected Steven H. McKnight as director of the Civil, Mechanical, and Manufacturing Innovation Division (CMMI) of the Directorate for Engineering.  McKnight, who has served as Chief of the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) Materials Division since 2005, begins his term at NSF today. 

At ARL, McKnight directed a comprehensive interdisciplinary materials research program that encompasses materials science and engineering, chemistry, applied physics, process and manufacturing technology, and engineering mechanics.  He oversaw both in-house research and an extramural collaborative research program with 42 academic and 38 industrial partners. 

Under his leadership, the Materials Division advanced materials and manufacturing technologies for a wide array of critical Army applications, including improved opaque and transparent armors, environmentally friendly coating and corrosion-protection technologies, thin-film ferroelectric materials for antennae, as well as several new manufacturing methods for structural and armor materials.

McKnight helped establish the Army's nanotechnology research program and twice co-chaired the Army's Nanotechnology Integrated Product Team.  He also served as the Army's primary representative on agency, interagency, and international materials research coordination and advisory groups.  

McKnight began at ARL in 1996 as a materials research engineer, and he led the polymer engineering research team, the Polymers Research Branch, and the Multifunctional Materials Branch before becoming division chief.  He advised five post-doctoral researchers at ARL.  McKnight also advised seven graduate and post-graduate researchers at the University of Delaware Center for Composite Materials, where he was a visiting scientist.

"Dr. McKnight's leadership in establishing a strong interdisciplinary research agenda in the Army Research Lab's Materials Division will be a valuable asset in his oversight of CMMI," said Tom Peterson, NSF Assistant Director for Engineering.  "CMMI has an important role to play in helping the Engineering Directorate address engineering's grand challenges, and interdisciplinary approaches are critical."

McKnight's personal research focuses on advanced polymer composite materials and polymer adhesion science, including innovative composites manufacturing techniques using non-traditional consolidation and curing methods for structural composite materials and composite material repair, tailored nanoscale engineering of composite fiber reinforcement for ballistic applications, and fundamental studies on the degradation mechanisms of multi-component, high-performance military coating systems. 

After receiving a B.S. in materials engineering from Virginia Tech, McKnight earned his Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from the University of Delaware.  He has received two Army R&D Achievement Awards as well as the 1998 Paul A. Siple Memorial Award in recognition of outstanding research.  McKnight has published 33 journal articles and 19 government technical reports; he holds three patents, two patent applications, and two invention disclosures. 

CMMI supports fundamental research and education directed at advances in civil, mechanical, industrial, and manufacturing engineering and materials design, with an additional focus on reducing risks and damage from earthquakes and other natural and technological hazards.  These investments are leading to advances that promote the global competitiveness of the nation's manufacturing sector; enhance the sustainability and resiliency of the nation's civil infrastructure; and improve the economics of the nation's health care system. 

- Cecile J. Gonzalez, NSF, -


The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2018, its budget is $7.8 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 50,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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