Author: Danielle McKenna
Civil and systems engineering doctoral candidate Gabe Dreisbach.

Gabe Dreisbach, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Civil and Systems Engineering, has been awarded a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship by the Department of Defense (DoD) for his proposed research in computational design engineering. 

This highly competitive three-year fellowship is awarded to U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, and U.S. dual citizens who intend to pursue a doctoral degree aligned with DoD research and development priorities. Since its inception in 1989, only 6% of the more than 70,000 applicants have been selected for the program. 

“I am currently working in topology optimization, with a specific focus on designing lightweight engineering components for structural or multi-physics performance properties,” said Dreisbach, who is advised by Jamie Guest, professor and department head.  

Topology optimization is a technique that optimizes the layout of material to form a structure within a defined space for a given set of loads, boundary conditions, and performance constraints. This process is automated and guided by optimization algorithms. It can be used to design architected materials, components and large-scale structures for a wide range of design objectives, such as reducing material usage to reduce mass, or maximizing mechanical properties such as strength or natural frequency.  

Though Dreisbach’s work has the potential to be used in a wide range of applications, his fellowship involves using topology optimization to design objects that are fabricated using additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing. 

This research focus was sparked by previous work in Italy, where he first encountered design optimization working with a mechanical engineering company. Guest’s prominence in the topology optimization field attracted Dreisbach to CaSE.  

The initial thing that drew me to Johns Hopkins was my advisor, Professor Guest, and his research group, JHU-TO, which specializes in topology optimization, but it was talking to students from the research group that really pushed Hopkins to the top of my list. I consistently heard how cross-disciplinary and supportive the department is, both of which were aspects I was looking for in a graduate program. After being here almost two years, I am very happy to say everything I heard was true. I already had high expectations before coming here, and Johns Hopkins has far and away exceeded them,” Dreisbach said.