Thomas Dow

Duncan Distinguished University Prof in ME & Director, PEC

Director, Precision Engineering Consortium
  • 919-515-3976
  • Research Building I 104

Precision Engineering Consortium


Dr. Dow is interested in precision machining systems, real-time control, and metrology.

At the graduate level, Dr. Dow teaches Metrology for Precision Manufacturing (MAE 545). The emphasis for this class is on procedures and techniques for measuring planes, distance and angles. Students learn about the instruments and techniques for accurate and repeatable measurement and the theoretical and practical foundations for designing such systems. Video laboratory sessions show the students how to setup and perform the measurements and the students calculate the appropriate results based on the data provided.

At the undergraduate level, Dr. Dow teaches Analysis for Mechanical Engineering Design (MAE 415) and Mechanical Engineering Design (MAE 416). He brings to both of these classes a wealth of experiences in mechanical design, analysis and fabrication. In recent years the students in his classes designed a top fuel dragster clutch and analyzed the drive system for a cable cams used at football games.

When not in the lab, Dr. Dow spends time with his wife and family (2 children and 7 grandchildren) and also enjoys hiking, running, biking, and kit car building.




Ph.D. 1972

Mechanical Engineering

Northwestern University

M.S. 1968

Engineering Design

Case Institute of Technology

B.S. 1966

Mechanical Engineering

Virginia Polytechnic Institute

Research Description

Dr. Dow's long-term goal is to improve how we make and measure devices that require tolerances of 1 part in 105 of the feature size to operate correctly. This means for a telescope measuring 1.5 meters (like the Hubbel Telescope), the shape tolerance is 15 micrometers.


Direct analysis of textile dyes from trace fibers by automated microfluidics extraction system coupled with Q-TOF mass spectrometer for forensic applications
Sultana, N., Gunning, S., Furst, S. J., Garrard, K. P., Dow, T. A., & Vinueza, N. R. (2018), Forensic Science International, 289, 67–74.
Surface Finish and Diamond Tool Wear when machining PMMA and PC Optics
Bodlapati, C., Dow, T., Wong, A., & Garrard, K. (2018), OPTICAL MANUFACTURING AND TESTING XII, 10742.
Design and validation of the mounting structure for BETTII balloon-based telescope with thin-walled optics
Furst, S., Dow, T., Garrard, K., Sohn, A., Fixsen, D., Rinehart, S., … Dhabal, A. (2016), Journal of Astronomical Telescopes Instruments and Systems, 2(2).
Design of elliptically-vibrating ultrasonic actuator for nanocoining
Dow, T. A., Nowak, J., & Kessing, J. R. (2016), Precision Engineering, 45, 301–310.
Optics of balloon experimental twin telescope for infrared interferometry (BETTII): delay lines and alignment
Dhabal, A., Rinehart, S. A., Rizzo, M. J., Mundy, L., Fixsen, D., Sampler, H., … Tucker, C. (2016), Optical and infrared interferometry and imaging v, 9907.
Nanostructure fabrication on germanium and silicon by nanocoining imprint technique
Zdanowicz, E., Dow, T. A., Scattergood, R. O., & Youssef, K. (2013), Precision Engineering, 37(4), 871–879.
Thermo-chemical wear model and worn tool shapes for single-crystal diamond tools cutting steel
Lane, B. M., Dow, T. A., & Scattergood, R. (2013), Wear, 300(1-2), 216–224.
Rapid fabrication of nanostructured surfaces using nanocoining
Zdanowicz, E., Dow, T. A., & Scattergood, R. O. (2012), Nanotechnology, 23(41).
Design, modeling, fabrication, and evaluation of the air amplifier for improved detection of biomolecules by electrospray ionization mass spectrometry
Robichaud, G., Dixon, R. B., Potturi, A. S., Cassidy, D., Edwards, J. R., Sohn, A., … Muddiman, D. C. (2011), International Journal of Mass Spectrometry, 300(2-3), 99–107.
Automated part centering with impulse actuation
Furst, S. J., Dow, T. A., Garrard, K., & Sohn, A. (2010), Journal of Manufacturing Science and Engineering, 132(1).

View all publications via NC State Libraries


Precision Path Motion for Dynamic Actuation, PEC Core Project 7
PE CONSORTIUM(10/01/19 - 12/31/21)
Microindentation, PEC Core Project 6
PE CONSORTIUM(7/01/19 - 12/31/21)
Develop Machining Processes to Produce Optimal Surface Finish in Pure Metals, PEC Core Project 8
PE CONSORTIUM(10/01/19 - 12/31/21)
Indentation of µm Lens Molds on Aluminum and Si Substrates, PEC Enhancement Project
Facebook Technologies, LLC (formerly Oculus VR, LLC)(7/01/19 - 6/30/21)
Sub-Aperture Polishing of mm-Sized Plastic Optics, PEC Enhancement Project
Facebook Technologies, LLC (formerly Oculus VR, LLC)(7/01/19 - 12/31/21)
Develop Machining Processes to Produce Optimal Surface Finish and Minimal Tool Wear, PEC Core Project 2019-2020
PE CONSORTIUM(7/01/19 - 12/31/21)
Membership in PE Consortium, Associate Member
Saint-Gobain Ceramics and Plastics, Inc. (1/01/19 - 12/31/20)
PE Consortium Administrative Account
PE CONSORTIUM(1/01/18 - 12/31/21)
Develop Machining Processes to Produce Optimal Surface Finish and Minimal Tool Wear, PEC Core Project 4
PE CONSORTIUM(1/01/18 - 6/30/19)
Multi-Lens Array, PEC Enhancement Project
Facebook Technologies, LLC (formerly Oculus VR, LLC)(3/01/17 - 12/31/18)