The Society of Plastic Engineers reveals ACCE and Rehkopf scholarship winners

A total of five scholarships sponsored by the SPE Automotive and SPE Composites Divisions were awarded to students pursuing advanced studies in a composites-related field.


Facebook Share Icon LinkedIn Share Icon Twitter Share Icon Share by EMail icon Print Icon
SPE ACCE 2020 virtual event banner

Photo Credit: SPE ACCE

On Sept. 8, the organizing committee for the SPE Automotive Composites Conference and Exhibition (ACCE), jointly produced by the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE, Detroit, Mich., U.S.), announced the winners of the group’s annual SPE ACCE scholarships and the Dr. Jackie Rehkopf scholarships. The winners were honored at the SPE ACCE virtual event.

According to the committee, both scholarships are administered as part of the SPE Foundation (Danbury, Conn., U.S.). More specifically, the ACCE scholarships (a total of $6,000 USD) are sponsored by the SPE Automotive and SPE Composites Divisions, and three scholarships ($2,000 USD each) are awarded to students pursuing advanced studies in a composites-related field. Winners for this award are Sai Aditya Pradeep, a PhD candidate at Clemson University (Clemson, S.C., U.S.); Alessandro Perego, a PhD candidate at University of Akron (Akron, Ohio, U.S.); and Nathaniel Blackman, a PhD candidate at Baylor University (Waco, Texas, U.S.).

The Dr. Jackie Rehkopf scholarships, also sponsored by the SPE Automotive and SPE Composites Division is further supported by donations of friends and family.  Two winners selected this year for the Rehkopf  Scholarship ($2,500 USD each) are Jiaqi Yan, a PhD candidate at North Carolina State University (Raleigh, N.C, U.S.) and Wencai Li, a PhD candidate at Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge, La., U.S.).

The winners’ composite-focused research and project pursuits include:

  • Sai Aditya Pradeep: Research focuses on the scalable production of thermoplastic nano-cellular foams via supercritical fluid assisted (SCF) injection molding, geared for automotive applications. 
  • Alessandro Pegreo: Research consists in using molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to study the long-standing problem of rubber waste management. 
  • Nathaniel Blackman: Proposed research project that will advance non-destructive testing of carbon-fiber composites using ultrasound, by creating algorithms and processes that automate the detection of foreign debris and low-impact damage in carbon-fiber laminates.
  • Jiaqi Yan: Fundamental and applied research lies in investigating polymer nanostructures, nanocomposites and networks by various techniques. 
  • Wencai Li: Main project goalis to create novel thermoplastic films and demonstrate their three-fold multifunctional purpose in energy direction, stress or strain and self-heating.

For a more comprehensive look at each winner’s research and projects, visit the SPE Foundation’s website.

Related Topics


  • Lightning strike protection strategies for composite aircraft

    Tried-and-true materials thrive, but new approaches and new forms designed to process faster are entering the marketplace.

  • Composites 101: Fibers and resins

    Compared to legacy materials like steel, aluminum, iron and titanium, composites are still coming of age, and only just now are being better understood by design and manufacturing engineers. However, composites’ physical properties — combined with unbeatable light weight — make them undeniably attractive. 

  • Ceramic-matrix composites heat up

    Lightweight, hard and stable at high temperatures, CMCs are emerging from two decades of study and development into commercial applications.