AIST Published Magazine Interviews Dr. Chenn Zhou

November 9, 2022
Feature image of Chenn Zhou in Interview with Distinguished Member and Fellow

Dr. Chenn Zhou, director of CIVS was recognized by Iron and Steel Technology Magazine as an AIST distinguished member and fellow for her commitment to making a direct impact on greener and smarter steel manufacturing. The three-page article was published in Volume 19, October 2022.

How did you get started in the industry?

I was introduced to the steel industry by Dr. Pinakin Chaubal at ArcelorMittal in 1998 to use the Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model for predicting hot metal flow, heat transfer, and erosion in the hearth of a blast furnace. We started with a senior design project, which evolved to a $1.29 million project awarded by the Indiana 21st Century Research & Technology Fund. At the beginning of the project, I still remembered the excitement during my first field trip with my students to the Indiana Harbor #7 Blast furnace, which was arranged by Mr. Wendell Carter who is now the Executive Vice President, of Operations West, at Cleveland Cliffs.

The CFD model developed for the hearth established a foundation for further development of CFD models for a whole blast furnace including fuel injections and combustion, as well as reactions and gas utilization in the shaft, which were funded by the Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO), Department of Energy (DOE). We also developed Virtual Blast Furnaces (VBF) by integrating the CFD models with advanced visualization technologies for troubleshooting, optimization, design, and training. Through the close collaboration with the industry, the research areas were expanded to include computer simulation, visualization, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and machine learning for various iron and steel-making processes such as electric arc furnaces, reheating furnace, ladle, casting, safety, etc. Eventually, our reach group evolved into the Center for Innovation through Visualization and Simulation (CIVS) in 2009 and an industry-led Steel Manufacturing Simulation and Visualization Consortium (SMSVC) in 2016. The SMSVC currently has 15 member companies including ArcelorMittal, Cleveland Cliffs, Charter Steel, Enbridge, EVRAZ North America, Gerdau, Linde, NiSource, NLMK USA, Nucor, SSAB, Steel Dynamics, Stelco, Tata Steel, and US Steel.

Who has been most influential in your life or career? How did this person influence you?

My grandfather Mr. Zhifu Zhou, worked as an accountant in a steel plant. He and my high school teacher Mr. Quande Xu strongly supported me to pursue my studies and career in engineering.

What would you tell someone who might be considering a career in the steel industry?

“The steel industry plays a vital role in national security and the economy, supplying one of the most critical materials for manufacturing, infrastructure, and defense. In my experience working with the steel industry for more than 20 years, I have found that steel people are very nice, innovative, and creative. The Steelworkers constantly strive for improvements through state-of-the-art technologies. Now especially is the most exciting time for making steel greener and smarter through decarbonization and digitalization. Working in the steel industry, people can make a direct impact on the world and society. There are also so many opportunities for professional development and training through AIST.”

What does winning the AIST Distinguished Member and Fellow Award mean to you?

“I feel deeply honored and humbled. This is a recognition of the quality of our work and the impacts made by my team and collaborators. I want to thank the people who nominated and endorsed me for this great honor. My thanks also go to the AIST board, AIST staff, our SMSVC member companies, all of my collaborators and supporters, my university Purdue Northwest, my colleagues and students, and my CIVS team. This is also a great inspiration for us to continuously use advanced technologies to make the steel industry more competitive and more sustainable.”

Iron & Steel Technology is the premier technical journal for metallurgical, engineering, operating, and maintenance personnel in the iron and steel industry. As the official monthly publication of AIST, Iron & Steel Technology is the most comprehensive and widely circulated journal available today, dedicated to providing its readers with the latest information on breakthroughs and trends in equipment, processes, and operating practices in the international iron- and steelmaking industry.