Dennis Mell

Dennis Mell

Professor of Practice

Electrical & Systems Engineering

  • Phone
  • Office
    Green Hall, Room 1156A


MS, University of Missouri-Rolla, 1989
BS, University of Missouri-Rolla, 1988


Focuses on cross-disciplinary applications of robotics and automation systems


In 2010, Dennis Mell joined the faculty in the Department of Electrical & Systems Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis as an adjunct professor. In 2012, he joined the faculty full-time, as a Professor of Practice. Additionally, Mell serves as the Director of the Undergraduate Engineering Discovery Competition. This program promotes and encourages upcoming engineers to discover the exciting area of entrepreneurship.

Mell spent his entire pre-academic career of 25+ years as a serial entrepreneur and business owner, focused in the manufacturing sector. For several years, he served as co-founder and CEO of a company focused on building custom automation equipment for various industries. Mell’s particular focus was on deemphasizing “over-the-wall engineering” and emphasizing the utilization of cross-disciplinary design awareness as well as techniques such as DFM (Design for Manufacturability), DFA (Design for Assembly), and DFT (Design for Testability). Professor Mell’s hands-on manufacturing knowledge base includes robotics and automation, castings and foundry processes, injection mold technologies, and mechatronics.

From 2002 to 2010, Mell was founder and CEO of a start-up custom automation company, producing innovative custom automated manufacturing equipment with a robotic emphasis. The company’s capabilities included in-house production of all of its own mechanical, electrical, and programming content for each custom project. Mell was solely responsible for all aspects of engineering and production of various custom automation projects, with applications ranging a broad spectrum of industries (from automotive to medical) and with system designs spanning from “smart” packaging applications to fully-autonomous robotic assembly cells. These unique systems included utilization and innovative implementation of off-the-shelf robots, custom-built 1-to-3 axis servo systems, vision systems (robot positioning, part inspection, and identification), state-of-the-art sensing technologies (laser, capacitive, inductive, ultrasonic, etc.), and a custom-developed and highly intuitive human interface system.


Mell’s research interests include advanced sensing technologies, robotic on-the-fly object identification with tactile and vision sensing techniques, and six degree of freedom robotic bin picking. He focuses on industrial automation, robotics and mechatronics, product design and development with design-for-manufacturability emphasis, prototyping, manufacturing.

He is particularly interested in cross-disciplinary applications of robotics and automation systems in start-up and small entrepreneurial ventures.