Loewy Institute Undergraduate Researcher Conner Larocque Awarded CPMT Scholarship

     Please join us in congratulating Loewy Institute Undergraduate Researcher Conner Larocque for receiving a CPMT scholarship!

     Read below for a Q & A with Conner about his research, PM interests, and current activities as a Lehigh Mechanical Engineering major and Loewy Institute Undergraduate Researcher. 

Congratulations on receiving a CPMT Scholarship, Conner! Could you tell us a bit about yourself (major, year / standing, club / research associations), about the CPMT scholarship and its application process, and what the focus of your research with The Loewy Institute is?
     My name is Conner Larocque I’m starting my sophomore year at Lehigh as a Mechanical Engineering major. I’m a designer on the Formula SAE team and an undergraduate researcher at the Loewy Institute. The Center for Powder Metallurgy Technology (CPMT) scholarship is a fund targeted toward student research in powder metallurgy. The focus of my research with the Loewy group has been mainly with regard to additive manufacturing of metals, mainly aluminum alloys.
What applications of powder metallurgy that you are working on here at Lehigh are especially of interest to you?
     I’m working mainly on the additive manufacturing side of powder metallurgy, specifically DMLS. Most of the work I’ve done has been mechanical testing of Aluminum alloys. I’ve worked with traditional techniques of aluminum manufacturing before but this is completely different, I think that’s very exciting.
What coursework at Lehigh has been particularly helpful in contributing to your understanding of powder metallurgy?
     Mat 033 is the intro course for material science, while the class doesn’t dive too much into power metallurgy it is a great base to build off of. Statics class has also expanded my knowledge of internal stresses due to thermal expansion and contraction, something particularly important in DMLS.
You work with the Renishaw in Wilbur Powerhouse and with Lehigh Formula SAE team–have you and your team considered introducing any additively manufactured components into your vehicle’s design?
     Yes. We’ve talked about running 3D printed topology optimized titanium uprights. We even sponsored a capstone project last year looking into it. More work definitely has to be done to see if it’s feasible. Some of our main concerns are reliability due to the manufacturing process, any post processing required and additional machining after printing.
What are some PM-related happenings or applications in industry that are of special interest to you (automotive / aerospace / product-related)?
     I’m really interested in the computer modeling of PM systems. It’s something I would like to get involved in more. I think there’s a lot of interesting work being done to computationally  understand these complex systems. 
Are there any PM processes that you are especially interested in learning more about?
     I’m definitely interested in the other additive technologies and how they vary from DMLS. 
Have you thought about what you would like to do after completion of your undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering here at Lehigh?
     I have thought about it and I’ve realized I have a lot of options. I’m thinking about R & D engineering but I’m not sure what. 
Are there any upcoming conferences or presentations that you will be taking part in (PM-related or otherwise)?
     I plan to attend the 2023 Powder Metallurgy conference next summer.
What’s one piece of advice you would have for someone interested in pursuing metal-forming related research here at Lehigh?
     I would tell people interested in doing any research at Lehigh to search for academic papers written by Lehigh faculty. Find a topic that interests you and search for it. This is how I originally found the Loewy group. Read the pertinent papers and send an email to the associated professor. 
Any person / people / group you would like to say “thank you” to?
     Firstly I would like to thank the Center for Powder Metallurgy Technology for this exciting opportunity. I would also really like to thank all the faculty and professors at Lehigh. Everyone is open to answer any questions and are always helpful.