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2015 EOY: Adam K. Fontecchio, PhD

FontecchioAdam_webAsk Drexel Engineering students what they think about Adam Fontecchio as a professor and advisor, and one word is heard over and over again: awesome. Ask the College of Engineering faculty for one word that describes Fontecchio as a peer academic and researcher and the consensus is unanimous: dedicated.

Adam K. Fontecchio is a professor and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Drexel University’s College of Engineering. He is an expert in electro-optics, liquid crystals, polymer dispersed liquid crystals, holography, remote sensing, color filtration, wearable technology and electrically switchable Bragg gratings. His research is focused on the fundamental investigations of liquid crystal interactions to develop novel devices and he has investigated the materials development of polymer/liquid crystal systems for optimization of electro-optical characteristics.

Fontecchio holds bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees from Brown University. He was a NASA Graduate Student Research Fellow at Goddard Space Flight Center where he investigated holographically-formed Polymer Dispersed Liquid Crystal technology for space borne remote sensing applications. He traveled to Tokyo, Japan in the summer of 2000 as part of the National Science Foundation Summer Institute, where he studied polymer-stabilized liquid crystal devices at the NTT Cyberspace Laboratories. He has also served as a Visiting Lecturer in Physics at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth campus.

In addition to teaching in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Fontecchio is a co-director of Drexel’s Expressive and Creative Interaction Technologies (ExCITe) Center, a University-wide strategic initiative bringing together faculty, students, and entrepreneurs from engineering, fashion design, digital media, performing arts, computer and information science, product design, and many other fields to pursue highly multi-disciplinary collaborative projects. He is also the director of the College of Engineering’s NanoPhotonics+ Lab, dedicated to research focused on the nanoscale interaction of light with matter.

Fontecchio has been highly instrumental in introducing student programs that will influence the engineering undergraduate curriculum at Drexel for years to come. The Lockheed Martin Engineering Leadership Program, which he directs, was developed in partnership with Lockheed Martin and is structured to develop the attributes in aspiring engineers that define true leadership through practice. Required curriculum for engineering freshmen, the program is refined with each of the cohort’s academic years so that an elite group of the most promising students are identified as Lockheed Martin Scholars in their third year, and move on to further hone their leadership skills.

DragonTeach, which Fontecchio co-directs with colleagues in the School of Education and the College of Arts and Sciences, is a program that streamlines the process for undergraduate students majoring in STEM fields to become certified teachers. This program not only serves Drexel students, but also the broader issues and concerns of the lack of qualified STEM teachers in the United States today.

Fontecchio is the recipient of numerous honors and awards for his research. Among these are the following:

  • Elected Senior Member, IEEE (2011)
  • Elected to Vice-Chair position, IEEE Philadelphia Section (2014)
  • Patent selected for publication in NASA Tech Briefs magazine ”Dynamic Time Multiplexing Fabrication of Holographic Polymer Dispersed Liquid Crystals for Increased Wavelength Sensitivity (2011)
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering Department Doctoral Mentor Award (2010)
  • Drexel ECE Outstanding Research Achievement Award (2006)
  • Drexel Graduate Student Association Outstanding Mentor Award (2006)
  • International Liquid Crystal Society Multimedia Prize (2004)
  • NASA Summer Faculty Fellowship, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (2003)
  • NASA Graduate Student Researcher Fellowship, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (2000-2001)
  • Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition, US House of Representatives (2000)
  • Citation of Excellence, Rhode Island House of Representatives (2000)

Fontecchio is a Senior Member of the IEEE, Member of the International Liquid Crystal Society (ILCS), a member of both the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), the ASEE Global Leadership Forum on Engineering Education, and the Society of Information Display (SID).

Fontecchio lives in Downingtown, PA with his wife and two daughters. In his spare time he enjoys mountain biking and cooking.