Professor Agonafer joined IBM in June 1984 after receiving a PhD from Howard University. He has quickly been recognized as a leader in his field as demonstrated by the numerous leadership roles that he has taken in electronic cooling and packaging. He currently advises 18 graduate students (6 PhD's and 12MSc students). Recently, he has organized a number of NSF sponsored workshops entitled "Grand Challenges of Thermal management of Electronics: Devices to Systems." 

At the time he joined IBM in 1984, there was limited Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modeling in the design of computer cooling systems. His principal mission and efforts were directed towards the development/application of Computer Aided Thermal Engineering (CATE) and he subsequently became the IBM Center of Competence for Computer Aided Thermal Engineering. He introduced commercial CFD codes to IBM and took leadership in training engineers in the use of both finite element and finite control volume commercial codes for solving electronic packaging problems; providing consultation for product design analysis; working with vendors to incorporate electronic cooling models in commercial codes; and creative ideas for electronic cooling by through novel patents. Professor Agonafer worked in promoting a concurrent engineering methodology for thermo/mechanical design and modeling of electronic packaging. This integrated design methodology significantly reduces the lead time for the design and modeling of the cooling package. In 1991, the value of his contribution to "Computer Aided Thermal Engineering" was recognized by being awarded the "IBM Outstanding Technical Achievement Award in Appreciation for Computer Aided Thermal Modeling.” In 1997, he was a co-inventor of a patent application entitled “Methods and system for thermal analysis of electronic packages.” In addition to his technical work at IBM, from 1989 to 1999, he chaired the "Technology Seminar Series" of the IBM Mid Hudson Valley Server Group Technical Vitality Council and organized technical sessions on a biweekly basis. Also, while at IBM, he presented his work at several universities such as Carnegie Mellon, Howard University, University of Colorado, Cornell, Georgia Tech, MIT, Penn State, and West Point. Some of Professor Agonafer’s responsibilities at IBM also included being the Author Recognition Program Chair for the site, and Chair of the “Invention Program Committee” for his organization. While at IBM, he taught graduate level courses as an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University and City College of New York. 

In 1999, Dr. Dereje Agonafer left IBM and joined the University of Texas at Arlington as Professor and Director of Electronics, MEMS, and Nanoelectronics Systems Packaging Center ( His research at the UT Arlington center is multidisciplinary and focuses on a variety of research related to thermo/mechanical issues in Microelectronics, MEMS and Nanoelectronics with broad applications including computers, telecommunications and bio-fluidics. The center has a strong synergy with UT Arlington’s Automation & Robotics Research Institute (ARRI) A and NanoFab Research and Training Facility ( He currently advises 18 graduate students including 6 PhD’s. Since joining UT Arlington in 1999, he has graduated 65 graduate students. 

In addition to a PhD program focusing in packaging, Professor Agonafer established a certificate program in packaging in fall 2001. The Certificate in Electronic Packaging program provides graduate-level knowledge in the field of electronic packaging, with a concentration on numerical and experimental characterization of thermo/mechanical issues. The program is tailored to encourage attendance from industry. Courses are taught by faculty of the departments of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering, plus other UT Arlington faculty and adjunct faculty as needed. Technical material covered in the classroom is complemented by a number of seminars by industry leaders in the packaging field. Students receive the certificate after completing 12 credit hours of packaging courses, as advised by the certificate program manager, and must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 in four selected courses

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Professor Agonafer has always been very active in professional society programs. He has been Guest Editor of special issues of The Journal of Electronic Packaging, The Journal of Heat Transfer, and IEEE’s Transactions on Components, Packaging, and Manufacturing Technology. He has published over 150 papers and has 8 issued patents. Since 2002, he has been a member of the “ASME Technical Executive Committee.” He was Editor in Chief, "Gordon and Breach Book Series in Electronic Packaging (1997-2000)," and has and continues to serve as an Associate Technical Editor of the ASME Journal of Electronic Packaging (2001-2007). He is currently the Editor in Chief of ASME Press Book Series in Electronic Packaging and the first book in that series was published in September 2002. From July 1997 - July 2000, he served as Chair of the ASME K-16 Committee in the Heat Transfer Division. He was Chair of the ASME Electrical and Photonic Packaging Division in 2000, and currently chairs the "Computer Aided Design in Electronic Packaging Committee" in the same division. Professor Agonafer has participated in numerous professional society meetings as session chair, panel moderator/panelist and conference leader. He has been involved very actively in ITHERM (Intersociety Conference on Thermal and Thermo Mechanical Phenomena in Electronic Systems) since the inception of the conference in 1988 and served as the Program Chair for 1994 ITHERM IV, and was the General Chair for 1996 ITHERM V held in Orlando, Fl.

In 1995, at Semi-Therm in San Jose, Professor Agonafer teamed with Professor Sammakia (SUNY Binghamton), Professor Joshi (Georgia Tech.) and Dr. Sathe (IBM) to teach a course entitled “Thermal Design of Electronic Systems: From Portables to Mainframes.” Since then, the four have teamed up and have taught the course a number of times at ITHERM and InterPACK. Also, Professor Sammakia and Professor Agonafer offered a tutorial on “Fundamentals of Electronic Packaging” at IMECE 2003 (Washington, DC), IMECE 2004 (Anaheim, CA), Interlake 2005 and presented a similar workshop at IMECE 2005 in Orlando. He has also been actively involved with InterPACK Conference (The Pacific Rim/ASME International, Intersociety Electronic and Photonic Packaging Conference). Professor Agonafer was the General Chair of InterPACK ‘99, which was held in Maui, Hawaii, June 1999. In 1994, he led US delegates to the World Congress on Computational Mechanics in Chiba, Japan, to give an invited lecture. In September 1997, he gave an invited lecture at Therminc Workshop in Cannes, France, and a keynote lecture at the 10th International Heat Pipe Conference in Stuttgart, Germany. In Summer 2000, he offered a number of courses in Japan, and in Summer 2001, he offered short courses in Singapore, Panang, Seoul, Taipei, Shanghai, Tokyo, and Osaka. In January 2005, he presented an invited seminar at the US/Africa Materials Workshop in Capetown, South Africa. In September 2006, he gave the opening keynote seminar at the 17th International Symposium on Transport Phenomena (ISTP-17) in Toyama, Japan ( During the academic year 2007-2008, he gave invited seminars at Tufts University, Northeastern University, MIT and Harvard University. He was the luncheon speaker at the Summer Cooling Zone Summit held in Natick, MA (

Professor Agonafer serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of a NSF Center, Mid-Infrared Technologies for Health and the Environment (MIRTHE) at Princeton University since 2007. He also serves on the Dean’s Engineering Advisory Committee at both University of Colorado and Howard University. Professor Agonafer is a Fellow of The American Society of Mechanical Engineers International (ASME) and Fellow of The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He is also a member of IEEE, AIAA, ASEE and NSBE. In March 1996, he received the The National Society of Black Engineers Alumni Extension Technologist of the Year award. In April 1998, Professor Agonafer was the recipient of the The University of Colorado School of Engineering Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award (DEAA) in the category of Research and Invention. The award represents the most significant honor the College gives and acknowledges the highest professional achievements. In November 1998, he received The Howard University Distinguished PhD Alumni Award. Also, in November 1998, he received ASME K-16/EEPD Clock Award for Outstanding Contribution in Computer Aided Thermal Management of Electronic Packages. In 2002, he received ASME International Electronic and Photonic Packaging Division Highest Division Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Area of the Application of the Science and Engineering of Heat Transfer to Electronic and Photonic Packaging. For the last 5 consecutive years, Professor Agonafer received an award from University of Texas at Arlington for having A strong record of external funding and scholarly achievement.

Professor Agonafer has also been actively involved in community activities as well as mentoring. While at IBM, he chaired a "National Engineering Week" and the year he chaired the program, he was able to put together team of IBM engineers to reach over 10,000 K-12 students. In July 1987, he organized a dinner to raise money for the United Negro College Funds and was rewarded the "United Negro College Meritorious Service Award." He has also mentored numerous young African American faculty by providing guidance for a template of successful tenure at academic institutions. In addition, he has successfully nominated African American faculty for prestigious awards and has also written numerous letters of support for promotions ranging from Associate to Full Professor. He has and continues to serve for over 20 years as a board member of the Howard University College of Engineering, Architecture and Computer Science. In 2009, Philip Cohen, Dean of the Graduate School and Vice Provost for Academic Affairs; along with faculty from UT Arlington's Colleges of Science, Engineering and Liberal Arts; and the Schools of Social Work, and Urban and Public Affairs visited Howard University to meet with key faculty, administrators and students in the program to celebrate the establishment of The University of Texas at Arlington as a partner in the Howard University Pre-Faculty Internship Program and to promote collaboration between faculties. ( Dr. Agonafer represented UTA's College of Engineering.

Each year since 1991 the IEEE SEMI-THERM Symposia honors a person as a Significant Contributor to the field of semiconductor thermal management. The THERMI award is intended to recognize a recipient's history of contributions to important thermal issues affecting the performance of semiconductor devices, optoelectronics, MEMS or related systems. Nominees are typically leaders in the field of heat transfer in the disciplines of measurement, modeling and testing of microelectronic, optoelectronic and other technology devices and equipment. Professor Agonafer received the Thermi Award at the 24th Annual Semi-Therm, March 2008, in San Jose, California ( In July 2009, he delivered a keynote seminar in San Francisco as a recipient of the 2009 InterPACK Excellence Award as cited by the Department Head - "A seal of Dereje’s excellence in research, standing and recognition in electronic packaging and a reflection of UTA’s rise within the international community." He continues to provide leadership internationally as depicted by yet another one day short course he will be providing at an upcoming conference in Feb 2010 where the program reads "SEMI-THERM 26 short courses will be instructed by globally recognized thermal titans of academia and industry that are also past IEEE Thermi Award winners. These day-long classes are modeled after university extension courses. SEMI-THERM courses are eligible for CEU credits. Don’t miss this opportunity!"

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Professor Agonafer was at MIT as a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. visiting scholar September 1, 2007 – August 31, 2008. While at MIT, he taught a graduate level course entitled "Application of Computational Techniques to Thermomechanical problems in Microelectronics Systems" ( He also established a seminar series where he invited experts from the industry to discuss challenges in electronic cooling, "Electronic Cooling/Packaging Seminar Series" ( In April 10, 2008, he invited Professor Andrew Alleyne, a renowned African American scholar from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, to give a talk entitled "Modeling and Control of Vapor Compression Cycle Systems." In conjunction with Dr. Alleyne's visit for the seminar, Dr. Agonafer worked with Dean Blanche Staton and Dean Christopher Jones to arrange for a dinner where Dr. Alleyne talked with MIT African American graduate students and post docs about career in academia. Dr. Agonafer also gave seminars at Harvard, MIT, Tufts, Northeastern and a number of local companies. Professor Agonafer also continued his longstanding working relationship with a number of faculty including successfully writing successfully funded proposals during that year. It was indeed a pretty successful scholarship year.


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