From industry to BYU: New MET professor talks about his experience before BYU

BYU’s newest associate professor of manufacturing engineering technology has had great success in the workforce. Now he has come to BYU to share his knowledge and experiences with students.

Yuri Hovanski did his undergraduate work here at BYU in mechanical engineering and then moved on to Washington State University to get his master’s and PhD degrees. He then worked at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington state as a research engineer.

“I was in the environmental and energy environment directorate, inside a group called applied materials,” Hovanski said. “I did a lot of work with application of lightweight materials to vehicles, everything from locomotives to trains, planes, automobiles, and basically everything that moves.”

Hovanski was also a sector manager for sales related to the department of energy and vehicle technologies. Along with that role, he was the national director and a founding director of Light Mat, a consortium of national labs in industry working on lightweight materials research.

“[Light Mat] brings together 10 national labs across the country working with industry to develop lightweight materials or next generation lightweight materials,” he said.

In all those positions, specifically at the national laboratory, Hovanski was able to use the research he did as an undergraduate at BYU. He worked with professors Tracy Nelson and Brent Adams looking at the stability of friction stir welds and post-weld heat treatment.

“Specifically, we took friction stir welds and aluminum alloys and we were evaluating whether or not the microstructure of those materials changed if we heated them up after welding,” he said.

His graduate research had less to do with analyzing material microstructure and focused more on industrial applications of friction stir welding technologies, specifically for the automotive community. He wanted to take the things he analyzed in the lab and apply them to the industrial world.

Hovanski has loved being at BYU, teaching a seminar class for manufacturing students and being a capstone coach for senior design students.

“I love working with the students,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed speaking with them about undergraduate research and graduate research.”

He also loves that BYU focuses on putting research to good use.

“I really am passionate about being able to have new technologies used,” he said. “Research for the sake of research is really good in basic science offices and physicist do that kind of stuff really well, but in an engineering school or a school of technology, we ought to be focused on actual real implementation. I am excited to be involved in that.”

In his free time, Hovanski loves water skiing, mountain biking, playing and coaching soccer, and just enjoying the outdoors. He even hikes the Y on a weekly basis with one of the other professors.

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