Southwest Research elevates Dr. Peter Lee to institute engineer
Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) announced the promotion of Dr. Peter Lee of the Tribology Research and Evaluations Section to institute engineer. Lee established SwRI’s tribology laboratory in 2011, which, under his leadership, has become a center recognized for its cutting-edge research and testing.
Institute engineers and scientists are the highest technical level afforded to research staff at SwRI. These individuals are recognized for their extensive knowledge and achievements and serve as leaders within the SwRI community. Institute engineers and scientists also serve on the SwRI Advisory Committee for Research, which oversees the Institute’s internal research program.
Lee holds a bachelor’s degree in automotive engineering and a Ph.D. in engine tribology from the University of Leeds, where he was also a Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow. His principal research interest is in the field of energy efficiency, primarily achieved using tribology, which is the study of friction, wear and lubrication.
“To be accepted as an Institute-level engineer is a great honor,” said Lee. “I appreciate the recognition of what the Tribology Research and Evaluations Section has achieved so far and the opportunity to further support SwRI in this new position.”
Lee joined SwRI in 2011 to help establish a world-recognized and fully staffed tribology laboratory within its Fuels and Lubricants Division.
“When the tribology group at SwRI was launched, it was envisioned to primarily support our lubricant testing activities,” said Steve Marty, vice president of SwRI’s Fuels and Lubricants Research Division. “Over the last decade, it has become integral not only for our lubricant testing, but also for many seemingly unrelated R&D efforts across the whole of the Institute that involve some aspect of friction, wear, surface composition, or fluid and surface interactions. Peter has been a key guiding force to build the team and capabilities that SwRI now provides for our many clients. His recent promotion to Institute engineer is reflected in this.”
When it launched, the section had only two employees and 530 square feet of laboratory space. As the section’s leader and SwRI’s chief tribologist, Lee has helped grow the Tribology Research and Evaluations Section to include more than 3,000 square feet of tribology laboratories and roughly a dozen employees. These facilities include several tribometers and custom rigs designed by Lee and his SwRI colleagues to meet specific customer requirements. The laboratories now offer testing, consultation, training and failure analysis for clients in a variety of industries from automotive research to cosmetics.
“The unique research environments and range of specialist knowledge at SwRI is what initially drew me to accept the offer to establish its tribology research labs,” said Lee. “With tribology being so interdisciplinary and all those disciplines being available on campus, I could see the potential to be able to solve and advance anything tribology related, from deep sea to deep space. I am proud to say we have accomplished that over the past 11 years.”
Lee holds eight patents with one pending, has published 27 papers and presented more than 110 technical papers and seminars domestically and abroad. In 2018, Lee was named a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the highest level of membership within the organization. He is the director as well as member of the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers, the Society of Automotive Engineers, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the American Society of Testing Materials. He is also an adjunct professor at Texas A.M. University, serves on several editorial boards for tribology journals.