Ashurst named director of Auburn Engineering’s Design and Innovation Center

Published: Aug 30, 2021 8:55 AM

By Cassie Montgomery

W. Robert Ashurst, Uthault Family Associate Professor of chemical engineering, has been named director of the Auburn University Samuel Ginn College of Engineering’s Design and Innovation Center. Housed on the bottom floor of the Brown-Kopel Center, the center serves as a makerspace consisting of student laboratories, shops, project incubators, study rooms, flexible classrooms, computer labs and more, while also serving as the home for engineering student organizations. 

“I feel very strongly that activities in the Design and Innovation Center are especially important for engineering students.  I will do my best to make sure that everyone in our college community is aware of this excellent resource and can take advantage of it,” Ashurst said. “I would like the makerspace to become the go-to resource in the college when our students, faculty, and staff have ideas to explore, things to make or just tinker around.”

As director, Ashurst will assist faculty and students in development and implementation of design and innovation projects, as well as build and sustain industry and agency relationships and collaborations to support student projects. Ashurst brings a passion to the position that was honed during his graduate work at the University of California, Berkeley.

“One of the first things I did at UC Berkeley was become qualified in the student machine shop,” he said. “There, I started building equipment for the research lab and it was something I really enjoyed. This has been an interest of mine since before I started graduate school.”

Ashurst has been a member of the chemical engineering faculty at Auburn since 2004. His research focuses on micro- and nano-electrochemical systems design, fabrication and reliability; micro- and nano-tribology; molecularly thin film synthesis and design; novel thin film processing; surface science; and semiconductor materials processing. Ashurst earned a doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley and worked at Sandia National Lab in Albuquerque, New Mexico, before joining the Auburn Engineering faculty.

“We are pleased to have Dr. Ashurst at the helm of the Design and Innovation Center and are excited to see his vision for the center brought to life,” said Jeffrey Fergus, associate dean for undergraduate studies and program assessment for the College of Engineering.

Ashurst is excited to work with students and faculty to showcase the potential that the makerspace has to offer.

“I see great opportunities in many engineering courses and within the student groups and student population to utilize the makerspace,” he said. “Frankly, it’s an amazing resource for the college and one of the first things I want to do is to get the word out that it’s here for all of us to use.”

Media Contact: Cassie Montgomery,, 334.844.3668
W. Robert Ashurst

W. Robert Ashurst

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