In 2010, Professor Mell joined the faculty in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL) as an Adjunct Professor. In 2012, he joined the faculty full-time, as a Professor of Practice. Additionally, Professor Mell serves as the Director of the Undergraduate Engineering Discoveries program. This program promotes and encourages upcoming engineers to discover the exciting area of entrepreneurship.
Professor Mell spent his entire pre-academic career of 25+ years in and around the manufacturing sector, working with various companies to link the design process with the manufacturing process. Professor Mell’s particular focus was on deemphasizing “over-the-wall engineering” and emphasizing the utilization of cross-disciplinary design awareness as well as techniques such as DFM (Design for Manufacturability), DFA (Design for Assembly),and DFT (Design for Testability). Professor Mell’s manufacturing knowledge base includes robotics and automation, castings and foundry processes, and injection mold technologies.
From 2002 to 2010, Professor Mell was founder and CEO of a start-up custom automation company, producing innovative custom automated manufacturing equipment with a robotic emphasis. The company’s capabilities included in-house production of all of its own mechanical, electrical, and programming content for each custom project. Professor Mell was solely responsible for all aspects of engineering and production of various custom automation projects, with applications ranging a broad spectrum of industries (from automotive to medical) and with system designs spanning from “smart” packaging applications to fully-autonomous robotic assembly cells. These unique systems included utilization and innovative implementation of off-the-shelf robots, custom-built 1-to-3 axis servo systems, vision systems (robot positioning, part inspection, and identification), state-of-the-art sensing technologies (laser, capacitive, inductive, ultrasonic, etc.), and a custom-developed and highly intuitive human interface system.
Professor Mell’s research interests include advanced sensing technologies, robotic on-the-fly object identification with tactile and vision sensing techniques, and six degree of freedom robotic bin picking.
He is particularly interested in cross-disciplinary applications of robotics and automation systems in start-up and small entrepreneurial ventures.