Lloyd Smith, a professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, has been named a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).
The ASME fellow grade recognizes “exceptional engineering achievements and contributions to the engineering profession.” The title of fellow has been awarded to only about two percent of over 130,000 ASME members.
Smith, a nationally renowned expert on baseball bat and ball performance, runs the Sports Science Lab at WSU, which is the official certification center for 10 amateur baseball and softball federations, including the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the American Softball Association and USA Baseball. The lab quantifies and certifies balls and bats, helping keep the game consistent by controlling equipment efficiency.
Smith, who has been with WSU since 1996, revolutionized how baseball bats’ performance was measured by creating new techniques in the early 2000s, eventually developing an innovative measurement machine. Smith’s invention has now been adopted by most major bat manufacturers and sports federations in the design and regulation of bat performance. Smith also developed a portable tester, now widely used, to check if a bat was altered to exceed its approved performance limit. This tester was more reliable and simpler to use than existing solutions.
Last year, Smith was picked by Major League Baseball (MLB) authorities to serve on a committee to understand the mysterious surge in home runs. Smith found that the aerodynamic drag of the newer baseballs was different, based on experiments conducted in the Sports Science Lab.
Apart from experimental bat and ball performance, Smith’s research interests include modeling of sport ball impacts, protective equipment and head injuries, along with composite materials broadly. Members of the Sports Science Lab, under Smith’s guidance, are involved in research of body protection equipment for soccer and football.
Smith earned his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at the University of Utah in 1994, and his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the same institution. He was named a fellow of the International Sports Engineering Association in 2018.