2021 Dean's Awards for Excellence

The Dean's Awards for Excellence recognize our faculty members' incredible work, which has directly or indirectly impacted the success of our students.   See all 2021 Dean's Awards for Excellence.

Michael J. Bortner

Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering

·         Michael Bortner’s research is focused on advanced manufacturing of polymer composites, with an emphasis on using rheology to fundamentally understand processing impacts on resulting part properties. His research group investigates flow behavior of polymers and polymer composites in an effort to understand relationships between the physics of polymer mobility and the formation and/or evolution of solid state properties of formed parts as a function of process physics (thermal profiles, processing speed, etc.). This research is targeted at next generation advanced manufacturing techniques such as material extrusion additive manufacturing (3D printing) and generation of aligned, discontinuous fiber reinforced structural composites.  In 2019, he was honored with the Virginia Tech College of Engineering Undergraduate Research Advisor of the Year Award.

·         Actively involved in outreach efforts, Michael Bortner works to educate industry scientists and engineers on the fundamentals of polymer processing, rheology, and process-structure-property relationships through workshops and short courses delivered at Virginia Tech and numerous industry sponsor locations. Since late 2016, he has been an instructor for 34 short courses offered through continuing education at Virginia Tech, the American Chemical Society (ACS), the Adhesion Society, and on an ad-hoc basis at multiple Fortune 500 companies.

·         The COVID-19 pandemic presented an outreach opportunity regarding availability of personal protective equipment. Michael Bortner’s research group worked on the design and production of 3D printed protective face shields that were NIH approved and disseminated broadly to the local and regional front line workers and health care community.  In addition, they also facilitated test plan development and implementation to help qualify 3D printed nasopharengyl swabs for COVID testing. Serving on executive committees of multiple professional societies: Structural Division Chair (2020-2021) and Annual Meeting co-chair (2021-2-22) for the Adhesion Society, Membership Chair (2018-2020) and elected Treasurer (2021-2022) for the American Chemical Society Cellulose and Renewable Materials Division.

·         Michael Bortner serves on the VT Chemical Engineering diversity committee to enhance diversity in all aspects of the department, as faculty mentor for the Society of Plastics Engineers VT student chapter, and as a faculty mentor at the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI). He also participates and leads outreach initiatives to attract underrepresented pre-college students to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and to Virginia Tech, such as through the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity summer camps.