Mechanical Engineering College of Engineering 

Katja Hölttä-Otto Named 2012 NSF CAREER Award Winner

Dr. Katja Hölttä-Otto, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at UMass Dartmouth, has received a Faculty Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF).  The award is one of the highest honors given by NSF to recognize young faculty in science and engineering who are effectively integrating research and teaching, and it provides a large grant to conduct research.

Dr. Hölttä-Otto will use the grant to support her research on innovation.  Her research objective is to investigate how the successful engineering design innovation and risk balance needs to be different in small new ventures rather than in larger more mature corporations.  A predictive model of engineering design level factors contributing to new venture success will be developed.  This research is an initial step toward discovering how engineering design methods, in general, should be different in new ventures vs. larger companies.  Dr. Hölttä-Otto's research will result in knowledge on how to balance one of the key contributor/barrier trade-offs to success: innovation versus technical risk.  This new knowledge will be transferred into a validated teaching methodology that will be immediately applied in student design projects and that will be transferred to other institutions through workshops and scholarly publications.

This work will increase the success of new ventures that are vital to the overall economy of the nation.  The work will have an immediate effect on the local industry through collaborations with the partnering Advanced Technology and Manufacturing Center (ATMC).  On national scale, such university affiliated new ventures have contributed $34 billion to the economy.  The integration with teaching through the capstone projects will help educate engineering entrepreneurs.  In hopes of enticing pursuit of STEM careers and in collaboration with the Society for Women Engineers, the research results are incorporated into an annual One Day Design project for local middle school girls.

"The NSF CAREER Award is one of the most prestigious awards for junior faculty" said Robert Peck, Dean of the College of Engineering.  "Dr. Hölttä-Otto is an outstanding researcher and teacher and we celebrate her achievement."

Dr. Hölttä-Otto holds an M.S. and Ph.D. from Helsinki University of Technology Finland.  She has also worked at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  She joined the faculty at UMass Dartmouth in 2005 and works in the areas of engineering design, creativity and innovation, and system architecture.

Author: "Katja Holtta-Otto [Contact]"
Date: 1-2-2012

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