Kate Whitefoot is an associate professor in the Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. She is an associate editor of the Journal of Mechanical Design, a Fellow of Carnegie Mellon University’s Scott Institute for Energy Innovation, and a member of the NextManufacturing Center for additive manufacturing research. Prior to her current position, she served as a senior program officer and the Robert A. Pritzker fellow at the National Academy of Engineering, where she directed the Academy’s Manufacturing, Design, and Innovation program.

Professor Whitefoot’s research bridges engineering design theory and analysis with that of economics to inform product development, manufacturing, and policymaking. Her research interests include sustainable transportation and manufacturing systems, the influence of innovation and technology policies on engineering design and production, product lifecycle systems optimization, and automation with human-machine teaming.

Whitefoot has gained recognition nationally and internationally for her research and teaching. Her work is featured in The Washington Post, Popular Mechanics, Bloomberg Business, and Business Insider, and referenced in the 2017-2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy rulemaking. She has worked with several companies, including Boeing, Cummins, Ford, and IBM, and has been invited to present briefings at the White House, Capitol Hill, the Department of Commerce, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

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Kate Whitefoot
Katie Whitefoot’s lab website

Clean Air as a Human Right

Improving the Adoption of New Products in the Marketplace


2011 Ph.D., Design Science (mechanical engineering & economics), University of Michigan

2008 MS, Mechanical Engineering, University of Michigan

2006 BS, Mechanical Engineering, University of Michigan

Media mentions


Whitefoot quoted on the MPG Illusion in the US

EPP/MechE’s Kate Whitefoot was quoted in Vox on the EU’s more transparent gas measurements in comparison to the US. The EU’s liters per 100 kilometer driven method being “directly related to energy use and directly related to emissions” providing researchers with more precise data on fuel economy.  

NBC News

Whitefoot quoted on labor involved in electric vehicle production

MechE/EPP’s Kate Whitefoot was quoted in NBC News on the amount of labor involved in electric vehicle production.

Fox Business

Whitefoot quoted on electric vehicle tax credits

Kate Whitefoot was quoted in Fox Business on the updated federal policy surrounding electric vehicle tax credits.


Whitefoot talks electric vehicle tax credits

EPP/MechE’s Kate Whitefoot spoke to CNET about adding to the list of electric vehicles that qualify for a federal tax credit worth thousands of dollars.


CMU’s take on autoworkers in the electric car industry in Axios

As the auto industry begins making the switch over to electric vehicles (EVs), a popular contention is that it takes fewer workers to manufacture EVs. However, researchers at CMU have found that it actually takes more labor hours as battery cell production is a complex and time-consuming process.


Whitefoot comments on green cars in MSN

MechE/EPP’s Kate Whitefoot comments on the future of green vehicles in MSN. “Moving heavy vehicles like school buses, construction equipment, and big trucks to electrification will definitely be slower,” she says.


Whitefoot comments on gas-powered green vehicles

MechE/EPP’s Kate Whitefoot comments on gas-powered green vehicles in Newsweek. "Moving heavy vehicles like school buses. construction equipment and big trucks to electrification will definitely be slower. That's where improving the efficiency of internal combustion engines will be important,” Whitefoot says.


Whitefoot talks increasing electric vehicle popularity

MechE/EPP’s Kate Whitefoot spoke to Nautilus about what’s behind the latest uptick in consumer interest in electric vehicles, breaking down several factors, including environmental impact and the influence of Tesla.

GO Banking Rates

Whitefoot talks cost of EVs, policy incentives

MechE/EPP’s Kate Whitefoot said there are many policy incentives available to lower the cost of purchasing electric vehicles (EVs).

CMU Engineering

Tech advances will drive the transition to electric vehicles

Researchers found that advances in EV technology will likely bring significant growth to the market, relative to gasoline powered automobiles.


Whitefoot talks future of electric vehicles after California’s ban on gasoline vehicles

EPP/MechE’s Kate Whitefoot discussed future uptake of electric vehicles in Vox after California passed a measure banning the sale of fossil fuel-powered cars by 2035. “It is expected that EVs will dominate the new vehicle market nationwide in the future,” she said. “The uncertainty is exactly when this will occur.”

CMU Engineering

Engineering faculty featured in events at GCEAF

Many faculty from across the College of Engineering will be featured at events during this year’s Global Clean Energy Action Forum.