Dr. Yao is Professor of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Columbia University, where he directs the Advanced Manufacturing Laboratory. He joined Columbia University in 1994 and served as Department Chair of Mechanical Engineering from 2005 to 2011.
He received Ph.D. and M.S. degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and B.E. degree from the Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China, all in Mechanical Engineering.
He has pioneered research in many areas of laser materials processing, including laser assisted removal, shaping, joining, and property modification of various materials, innovative laser applications in renewable energy, biomedical, and art restoration fields, as well as novel robotics applications in health care areas. His research has been funded by National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and major companies.
His group has published over 250 technical papers and was honored with 5 Best Paper awards. He holds 5 US patents, edited 8 volumes and co-authored 3 book chapters. He has been asked to give invited presentations regularly.
He is Editor, Journal of Manufacturing Science and Engineering (JMSE) of American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). JMSE is a premier journal featuring original research in all branches of manufacturing, where he works with some 18 Associate Editors of the journal to better serve the manufacturing research community. His journal assistant is Ms. Corinna Fales. He also serves on the editorial board of several oth er journals.
He served as President of North American Manufacturing Research Institute (NAMRI) of Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) during 2009-2010. The NAMRI brings together researchers for the purpose of advancing the scientific foundation of discrete-parts manufacturing. He was on the NAMRI Board of Directors from 2002 to 2012. He served as Chair of the Manufacturing Engineering Division (MED) of ASME from 2010-2011. He was on the Executive Committee of MED from 2006 to 2011. He served on the Board of Directors, Laser Institute of America (LIA) from 2002 to 2008. He has been serving on the Visiting Committee, Department of Scientific Research at Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York since 2006.
He received many awards including the Blackall Machine Tool and Gage Award from ASME, Fulbright Senior Scholar Award, Outstanding Paper Award from NAMRI, and Janette and Armen Avanessians Diversity Award. He is a Fellow of ASME, SME, and LIA.