Steven McKnight, vice president for strategic research, has been appointed interim Acting Office Director of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) for one year. During this timeframe, McKnight will be on sabbatical from Virginia Tech.

“I’m excited by this great and timely opportunity,” said McKnight. “It builds on my past professional experience as well as my technical background. But, most importantly, I am excited to work with a great team of incredibly talented individuals at a pivotal time for the Advanced Manufacturing Office as it fulfills its crucial role in the advancing U.S. manufacturing research and industrial decarbonization.”

McKnight’s technical expertise in advanced materials and manufacturing will be the utilized by AMO in their efforts to stand up two new offices, recruit new executive level leadership for each office, and fill several technical and operational support positions. He will also play an important role in cross-DOE initiatives and related interagency advanced manufacturing and decarbonization coordination efforts that will help the department develop its strategy and associated programs focused on national priorities for manufacturing competitiveness and industrial decarbonization.

Supporting the Virginia Tech research community since 2019, McKnight leads the Office of Strategic Research Alliances within the Office of Research and Innovation. With his colleague Jon Porter, who will lead the office in McKnight’s absence, the team works to establish, strengthen, and maintain relationships between Virginia Tech and federal research sponsors; track, analyze, and disseminate research priorities of federal agencies, while elevating Virginia Tech’s participation in national research agenda-setting activities; and convene the research community to shape innovative solutions to national priorities and build collaborative teams to advance those solutions.

Prior to his current role, he served at Virginia Tech starting in 2014 as vice president of operations for the university’s greater Washington, D.C. metro area, where he coordinated the university’s operations and led long-term visioning that contributed to the institution’s growth in the region.

Previously, McKnight was the division director for civil, mechanical, and manufacturing innovation within the Directorate for Engineering at the National Science Foundation (NSF) for five years and is noted for successfully promoting innovative interdisciplinary research collaborations and interagency partnerships in materials technology and advanced manufacturing, disaster resilience, systems engineering, and smart infrastructure. Prior to joining the NSF, McKnight served at the United States Army Research Laboratory in the role of Chief of the Materials and Manufacturing Division.

McKnight, a professor of biomechanical engineering and mechanics, pursues a personal research portfolio that includes advanced polymer composite materials, polymer adhesion science, engineering polymers, applied surface modification technologies.

McKnight received a bachelor's in materials engineering from Virginia Tech and a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from the University of Delaware.

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