The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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ASME Selects Alumnus Marshall Jones as Honorary Member

Marshall Jones

Marshall Jones

The Board of Governors of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) has made Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department Alumnus Marshall Jones an honorary member. Jones is a General Electric (GE) engineer who holds more than 65 U.S. patents and is recognized as one of the foremost authorities in the field of laser material processing. ASME selected Jones for his “pioneering use of high-powered lasers for industrial materials processing; and for contributions to STEM education, including lifelong mentoring of young people, particularly underrepresented minorities.”

Formal presentation of the award, which consists of a silver medal and a certificate, will take place during the ASME virtual international Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition on November 1 to 4 of 2021.

Jones is currently a Coolidge fellow at GE Research, and he earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in the UMass MIE department.

In 2017, Jones was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for his pioneering work on industrial lasers. At the organization’s 45th annual induction ceremony in May of 2017, Jones joined the likes of other inductees such as Tesla, Edison, and the Wright Brothers. As the National Inventors Hall of Fame billed the induction ceremony, “Here we honor and celebrate the world’s foremost inventors and their contributions to society.”

According to a GE Reports piece about Jones: “A model of perseverance, the laser pioneer was raised by his extended family on a duck ranch but ended up laying the foundation for the new field of additive manufacturing, which includes 3D printing. Jones was born during World War II in Southampton on New York’s Long Island, when the area was best known for agriculture, rather than summer mansions of the rich and famous. Because his father was serving in the Navy and his mother worked as a seamstress in New York City, he lived under his great aunt and uncle’s care on the duck ranch.”

From such humble beginnings, Jones struggled with his early schooling but later persisted to become a top-flight doctoral student at UMass Amherst and a groundbreaking engineer at GE.

As the GE Reports article quoted Vic Abate, GE’s chief technology officer, “Marshall Jones isn’t just a laser pioneer, he’s a trailblazer whose laser research is helping to transform manufacturing and build a new additive business for GE today.”

Among many other innovations, Jones invented novel methods to weld dissimilar metals.
In the mid-1970s, Jones invented a technique using a laser to weld copper and aluminum quite rapidly. He later developed methods to weld other dissimilar metals, including molybdenum and tungsten.

Jones also developed fiber optic systems to make lasers much more convenient for industrial applications. In 1982, Jones initiated research and development of fiber-optic, laser-beam, delivery systems resulting in a laser powerful enough to cut steel, titanium, and nickel-based alloys, and to weld and drill them at multiple angles. Then, in 1988, Jones and his team developed a laser-welding system using fiber-optic cables to simultaneously split a laser beam and heat opposite sides of a workpiece.

In addition, the work of Jones revolutionized the method of welding lead wires used in automotive head lamps. The welding method is used in GE’s production of ceramic metal halide lamps, diesel engine head-liner assemblies for locomotives, control rods for nuclear reactors, and flat emitters for x-ray tubes.

Jones has also received the Pioneer of the Year Golden Torch Award from the National Society of Black Engineers, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering for his contributions to the application of high-powered lasers in industry, and he was chosen as a Fellow of ASME and the Laser Institute of America. (August 2021)