•Most Promising Engineer Advanced Degree – Ph.D.•

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Evan J. Pineda, Ph.D.

Aerospace Research Engineer

Materials and Structures Division

Multiscale and Multiphysics Modeling (LMS) Branch

NASA Glenn Research Center

Education: Ph.D., mechanical engineering, University of Michigan; B.S., mechanical engineering, University of California, Berkeley.

Dr. Evan Pineda did not travel an easy path to his current role as an Aerospace Research Engineer in the Materials and Structures Division, Multiscale and Multiphysics Modeling (LMS) Branch of the NASA Glenn Research Center.  Were it not for the positive support of an engaged physics teacher who recognized Dr. Pineda’s talent in STEM, Dr. Pineda’s career may have turned out entirely differently. 


After high school, he enrolled in the University of California, Berkeley’s competitive mechanical engineering program, and he soon developed an interest in solid mechanics and dynamics.  Dr. Pineda was awarded a ChevronTexaco research scholarship and began working in Professor Werner Goldsmith’s ballistic impact research laboratory. His research on the ballistic impact of fabrics soon resulted in his first published conference paper with Prof. Goldsmith in 2003. 


While his enthusiasm for science never wavered, Dr. Evan Pineda didn’t initially excel at subjects he was less interested in.  When it came time to apply to graduate school, he found that his GPA wasn’t high enough to get into Berkley’s graduate program, his first choice.  Undeterred, and with the support of another mentor who used the example of his own career path, Dr. Pineda applied to other schools and ultimately earned admission directly into the Ph.D. program for mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan.


At UM, he built on his prior research on ballistic fabrics by joining a NASA-funded project in the composites laboratory focused on the development of a multiscale modeling tool for progressive failure of composite structures. During his Ph.D. studies, he developed the Enhanced Schapery Theory for progressive failure analysis of composites, along with a coupled multiscale progressive failure analysis framework.  His work appeared in the prestigious NASA Tech Brief, a monthly report of any new, commercially significant technologies developed in the course of their NASA’s R&D.


Progressive failure analysis is a critical field that helps aerospace engineers understand and expand the limits of advanced materials.  While still a graduate student at NASA Glenn, Dr. Pineda has implemented a novel damage model within the Center’s Integrated-multiscale Micromechanics Analysis Code (ImMAC) software suite.  This earned him the Student Paper Award at the 53rd American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ Structural Dynamics and Materials Conference. His exemplary work led to a full-time position there continuing his research in multiscale progressive failure analysis of composites after earning his Ph.D. 


Born to Salvadoran immigrant father and an American mother, this California kid overcame numerous prejudices, deterrents, and even attempts at sabotage from his teachers and peers. As a mixed-race Hispanic who spoke no Spanish, he still faced the persistent bias of low-expectations from his teachers.  He recalls many difficulties fitting in to a stratified, ethnically-charged local culture where the threats of gangs, drugs and violence were always present. 


Dr. Pineda has authored numerous publications including 22 journal articles, 1 book chapter, 71 conference papers, 17 NASA/TMs, 2 invited or plenary conference lectures, and 8 invited university seminars and has been the recipient of over 17 technical or academic awards, including the NASA Early Career Achievement Medal, and the DESTech Young Composites Researcher Award. He was also awarded a prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship through which he conducted research on damage homogenization techniques at the Institute for Applied Mechanics (IFAM) at RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany for six months. 

It is an impressive list of accomplishments for someone who strenuously overcame the multiple obstacles in his path through hard work, study, and determination.

-By Vinnie Longobardo