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Keynoter Kuehmann to explore SpaceX, Tesla design engineering strategy


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This year’s General Session CAMX Live!, being held at 8:30 a.m. today in the Dallas Ballroom of the Omni Hotel, features as keynote speaker Dr. Charles Kuehmann, vice president of materials engineering for SpaceX (Hawthorne, CA) and Tesla Motors (Palo Alto, CA), and former product design leader at Apple. Kuehmann will share with the CAMX audience his insights on delivering materials innovations in areas such as high-speed travel, electric cars and space travel. He’ll also touch on some of the advantages of working in both automotive and aerospace, and why it is beneficial to leverage technologies and materials across both sectors.

Kuehmann is a leader in computational materials design, or design activity that focuses on the wider context of the application. According to Kuehmann, combinations of material properties must be considered within specified process, cost, environmental and life-cycle constraints, recognizing that tradeoffs are inherent in such an approach and that the design must address the optimization of such tradeoffs.

After earning his doctorate at Northwestern University in 1994, Kuehmann co-founded QuesTek with his adviser Gregory B. Olson, Northwestern’s Walter P. Murphy Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, called the “father of materials design” by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. QuesTek was the first company dedicated to commercializing computational materials design, which led to innovative materials and metal alloys for automobiles, aircraft, turbine engines and more. In 2012, QuesTek’s technology was purchased by Apple.

As the computational materials design revolution has been adopted by government and private R&D organizations through the Accelerated Insertion of Materials and Materials Genome Initiative at NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology), Kuehmann’s advancements have impacted the consumer electronics industry, electric vehicles and spacecraft. He leads the materials engineering organizations at Tesla and SpaceX, driving material solutions to enable the world’s transition to a sustainable future, the commercialization of space and a multi-planetary civilization.

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