Third Embry-Riddle Fulbright Honoree to Focus on Advanced Eco-Friendly Composites

Dr. Sirish Namilae
Embry-Riddle faculty member Sirish Namilae will collaborate with composite researchers in India, in fulfillment of his Fulbright-Nehru Award. (Photo: Embry-Riddle/Daryl Labello)

The U.S. Fulbright Scholar Program has honored a third Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University faculty member in 2024 — Dr. Sirish Namilae, whose work with colleagues in Chennai, India, could help set the stage for more environmentally friendly, next-generation composite materials.

Namilae, a professor and Ph.D. program coordinator within the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach, Florida, campus, joins faculty members Kelsi Matwick and Dean Goon, of Embry-Riddle’s Prescott, Arizona, and Worldwide campuses, respectively, as a 2024 Fulbright award recipient.

In 2023, Fulbright honors recognized Embry-Riddle faculty members Drs. Jules O. Yimga, Marie Lathers and Shawn Milrad.

Embry-Riddle’s Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Dr. Kelly Austin noted that students are the ultimate beneficiaries of honors earned by faculty members.

“For the second consecutive year, the prestigious Fulbright Scholar Program has recognized not one but three Embry-Riddle faculty members,” he said. “This type of distinction enriches teaching and enhances the value of degrees that students are earning from us. Congratulations to Dr. Namilae on joining Dr. Matwick and Dean Goon in this year’s Fulbright cohort at Embry-Riddle.”

Big-Picture Goals Based on Nanoscale Features

Working with colleagues at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM), Namilae’s goal is to “pioneer biodegradable natural fiber composite materials with specially designed nanoscale interfacial features” — those located at the interface between different components.

Toward that end, he will study the interfacial mechanics of composites to create “design maps” that correlate with the nanoscale features of desired composite properties. His overarching plan is to establish new ways to design the interfacial characteristics of next-generation composites.

“The outcomes of this research should provide guidance for the optimal interface design of robust, multifunctional composites, including eco-friendly natural fiber composites,” he explained.

Namilae’s Fulbright-Nehru Award will require three trips to India, encompassing five months of work over a two-year period. He said the multidisciplinary research, leveraging insights from materials processing and solid mechanics as well as polymer transport, should serve him well as an educator and mentor of graduate and undergraduate research students.

“My experience will likely promote student exchanges and collaboration between research groups at Embry-Riddle and IITM,” added Namilae, who grew up in India.

Dr. Jim Gregory, dean of Embry-Riddle’s College of Engineering at Daytona Beach, noted that the Fulbright Scholar Program recognizes academic and professional achievement, demonstrated leadership, and efforts to foster long-term cooperation between institutions in the United States and around the world. “We’re tremendously proud of Dr. Namilae’s latest accomplishment and all of our faculty members who have become Fulbright honorees,” he said. “We commend them for their dedication to excellence in teaching, research and productive team building across borders.”

Fulbright awards are funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations and foundations worldwide also provide direct and indirect support to the program, which operates in over 160 countries worldwide.

“Winning a Fulbright Scholar award is a prestigious honor that reflects our faculty’s commitment to global engagement and academic excellence,” said Dr. Aaron D. Clevenger, assistant provost for International Education at Embry‑Riddle. “Fulbright Scholars enrich our campus community and our courses by integrating diverse international perspectives and new cross-cultural understanding.”

The 2025-26 Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program competition is now open. Interested faculty members may learn more by visiting the official Fulbright website.

Additional information via International Education at Embry-Riddle is also available online.

Posted In: Engineering | Research