Dr. Poh Wah Lee of Centric Parts Dies Unexpectedly at 47

CARSON, Calif. — Dr. Poh Wah Lee, Director of Friction Materials Sciences at Centric Parts-Brake Components, recently passed away. Here is the company’s obituary:

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Dr. Poh Wah Lee, Director of Friction Materials Sciences at Centric Parts-Brake Components. Dr. Lee passed away unexpectedly on Friday, June 18, 2022, at his home. He was 47 years old.

Dr. Lee started at Centric Parts in August of 2013.  Prior to that he spent 15 years as a researcher at Southern Illinois University in the Center for Advanced Friction Studies.  While at SIU, Dr. Lee was responsible for research and development of phenolic bonded friction materials for automotive applications, as well as carbon-carbon composite friction materials for aerospace and auto racing applications. 

During his tenure at SIU, Dr. Lee was awarded the Dean B. Jefferson Outstanding Staff Award from the College of Engineering and was published on at least four occasions – including a 2012 SAE white paper entitled, “Development of Cu-free Brake Materials.” He earned his Bachelors and Masters in Mechanical Engineering and a Ph.D. in Engineering Science from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.

Dr. Lee focused on copper-free formulations and led the ongoing development of Centric’s friction program.

“Because of its unique structure and makeup, copper has been the primary substrate used in friction materials to improve the dissipation of thermal energy, helping prevent fade as brake temperatures go up. The goal is to find a suitable replacement formulation that will improve friction performance characteristics over a wide range of driving conditions – providing stable µ, consistent pedal, improved pad and rotor life, and low NVH,” stated Dr. Lee.

While we are greatly saddened by his sudden departure, we are thankful to have had the opportunity to work with such an innovative and driven thought leader. He will be sorely missed.

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