The Particle Flow & Tribology Lab (PFTL) at Carnegie Mellon researches new methodologies to predicting the behavior of granular, powder, and slurry flows in sliding contacts. Our research is conducted through the synergistic use of experiments, physics-based modeling, and computational simulations. The research in the PFTL has application to the semiconductor, energy, biotechnology, nanotechnology, agricultural, space, and defense industries. The lab’s founder and director is Prof. C. Fred Higgs III.


In 2014:
The PFTL is a part of a team that wins an ‘America Makes’ (formerly NAMII) grant to study additive manufacturing.

Randyka Pudjoprawoto successfully defends his PhD thesis in powder and transfer film lubrication.

Profs. Higgs (along with Drs. LeDuc and Mpagazehe) were awarded the NSF I-Corps award for university start-up activity related to bio-energy/biofuels.

In 2013:
Martin Marinack and Jeremiah Mpagazehe successfully defend their PhD theses in granular flow tribology and slurry/multiphase flows & tribology, respectively.

The PFTL is awarded grants from three global companies (Timken , Sanitarium, and Westinghouse House Electric Companies).

The PFTL is awarded research translation grants from Innovation Works and CTTEC to study algae bio-energy.

Jeremiah Mpagazehe wins the STLE Young Tribologist award.

In 2012:
Prof. Higgs and wife welcomes future tribologist prospect Cecil Fred Higgs, IV into the world.

Prof. Higgs is co-awarded the 2012 Benjamin Richard Teare Teaching Award (for faculty member within the Carnegie Mellon College of Engineering in recognition of excellence in engineering education.)

Patrick Dougherty wins the STLE Young Tribologist award.

Prof. Higgs became a Visiting Professor at the University of Southampton (UK) in the national Centre for Advanced Tribology at Southampton (nCATS).

Gagan Srivastava is awarded a Dowd Fellowship to conduct research on Smart Artificial Hip Surface modeling.

The PFTL is awarded a RAMP project for 3D Printing and shakes hands with the govenor.

Spring 2011: Dr. John Shelton joins the PFTL as a DOE EERE Postdoctoral Research Fellow.

Martin Marinack wins the STLE Young Tribologist award.

Patrick Dougherty is awarded an NSF Fellowship as a graduating senior and elects to become a PFTL PhD student.

Jon Sierra is awarded a Sloan Fellowship.

Prof. Higgs gives the Plenary talk at the 38th Leeds-Lyon Symposium on Tribology: Energy & Health, in Lyon, France.

Spring 2010: Prof. C. Fred Higgs III has been selected to receive the 2010 ASME Burt L. Newkirk Award, which is for an individual under the age of 40 "who made a notable contribution to the field of tribology in research or development as evidenced by important tribology publications."

Spring 2010: Sean Coleman , a PFTL undergraduate researcher, was a finalist in the “Meeting of the Minds” which is a school-wide research fair for Carnegie Mellon undergraduates. He won for his work entitled “Analysis and Modeling of Granular Particle Flows – A GPU-Based Approach “, which is a parallel approach to digital particle tracking velocimetry.

Spring 2010: Ryan Comes, a PFTL undergraduate alumnus, the first students to publish a first author journal article based on his PFTL undergraduate research, has won the NDSEG Fellowship.

Spring 2010: Martin Marinack Jr., a PFTL PhD student, was awarded the NSF Graduate Student Research Fellowship.

Spring 2010: Prof. C. Fred Higgs III was named The Clarence H. Adamson Career Faculty Fellow in Mechanical Engineering.

Fall 2009: Prof. C. Fred Higgs III and his wife welcome their 1st child Taylor and future tribologists prospect into the world.

Spring 2009: Jeremiah Mpagazehe, a PFTL PhD student, was awarded the NASA GSRP Fellowship with the NASA Glenn Research Center.

Spring 2009: The professor and students from the PFTL win the 2009 Carnegie Mellon Intramural Football Championship Team

Spring 2009: The PFTL welcomes a new member of the family, Dr. Hojjat Nasr, who is a new postdoctoral research associate. He received his PhD from Clarkson University under Dr. Ahmadi

Fall 2008: Former PFTL PhD student, Emmanuel Wornyoh, starts his new faculty position at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee in the mechanical engineering department.

Fall 2008:Former PFTL PhD student, Elon Terrell, starts his new faculty position at Columbia University in the mechanical engineering department.

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The research themes that the PFTL focuses on are:
  • Granular flow
  • Powder lubrication
  • Slurry tribology
  • Computational Fluid/Solid Interactions



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C. Fred Higgs, III
Professor of the Mechanical Engineering Department
Affiliated Professor in the Electrical & Computer Engineering Department
Carnegie Mellon University
5000 Forbes Ave
Pittsburgh PA 15213-3890
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