2024 Order of the Engineer Ceremony
May 10, 2024  |  4:00 p.m.
T.U. Chapel

Speaker: Merlin Theodore, Ph.D.
Advanced Fibers Manufacturing Group Lead/
Director of Carbon Fiber Technology Facility for the Manufacturing Science Directorate at Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Photo of Dr. Merlin Theodore

Dr. Theodore is currently the Advanced Fibers Manufacturing Group Lead/Director of Carbon Fiber Technology Facility for the Manufacturing Science Directorate at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  ORNL’s Manufacturing Science Program capitalizes on ORNL’s world-class user facilities such as the Carbon Fiber Technology Facility (CFTF) and Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (MDF). Dr. Theodore efforts allow technologies to advance from the research and development stage to validation and deployment, thus enhancing U.S competitiveness in advance manufacturing. Dr. Theodore’s transformative spirit brings a rich background as both a researcher and scientific leader driving a materials and manufacturing mission for over a decade. She has served in numerous leadership positions in government agencies, industry, and academia. 

She was recently appointed by President Biden as the first full-time researcher from a national laboratory to serve on the National Science Board. Dr. Theodore lead a critical initiative for our nation in creating filter media supply chain for N95 masks needed in the fight against COVID-19. Leading to a domestic supply chain of face masks and the creation of more than 1500 jobs in the state of Florida. Merlin served an adjacent role as the Director for Materials & Processing Technology Area for the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation, an Institute within the White House Manufacturing USA initiative comprising of a public-private partnership to increase domestic production capacity, grow manufacturing, and create jobs across the U.S. composite industry as well as a joint appointment at the University of Tennessee.  

In previous roles. Dr. Theodore had led the Head of Excellence at SGL Automotive Carbon Fiber LLC (BMW & SGL joint-venture) in Moses Lake, Washington, the largest single site for Carbon Fiber Production in 2011. As a research scientist, and technical advisor/coordinator for the educational task of the Minority Leaders Program at Universal Technology Corporation co-located at AFRL Wright-Patterson Airforce Base, she had led and coordinated the summer program which fosters HBCU and Hispanic University Minority students to increase their desire to pursue graduate degrees in Engineering and work in a U.S. Government Research Facility. She also held research faculty position at Georgia Tech University. 

She has authored approximately 30+ open literature publications, US patents, and has received numerous awards. She has served by invitation on numerous scientific and technical review panels, women in science panels, co-chair Composites World, and committees. A native from St. Croix U.S. Virgin Islands, Dr. Theodore migrated to the U.S mainland after high school. Dr. Theodore received a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Certification (BMW) and three degrees from TUSKEGEE UNIVERSITY; Ph.D. in Material Science and Engineering, a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering, and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering.   


Button - go to commencement webpage