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Achille Messac named chair of LCS's Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

July 16, 2010

Kelly Homan Rodoski
(315) 443-3784

Achille Messac has been named as distinguished professor and chair of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in Syracuse University’s L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science (LCS). The appointment is effective July 26.

Achilles MessacMessac becomes the second active distinguished professor in LCS, a rank that indicates he has attained the highest levels of achievement in his area of expertise.

Messac comes to SU from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, N.Y., where he has been a professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Nuclear Engineering since 2000. He served as the acting department chair from July 2008 to July 2009.

Mark Glauser, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and associate dean for research and doctoral programs in LCS, notes that, “Professor Messac is a fellow of both professional societies represented in the department—the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). This is a truly remarkable accomplishment from an outstanding researcher and academic leader.”

The current thrust of Messac’s research revolves around energy systems design and optimization, including wind and solar energy harvesting. He is also currently leading the development of advanced design technologies, including physical programming, a methodology that brings optimization within easy reach of industry engineers.

“Dr. Messac is most widely known for his pioneering work in Multidisciplinary Design Optimization (MDO) for which he was recently named the winner of the prestigious MDO Award, conferred every two to four years to one person internationally by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics,” says LCS Dean Laura J. Steinberg. “He will be accepting the award this fall at the AIAA meeting as a member of the LCS faculty. I am very proud to have Achille join our team at LCS where he will undoubtedly be a wonderful colleague, an inspiring leader and a passionate researcher and teacher.”

The MDO Award will be presented to Messac for his pioneering research in MDO in the areas of control structure, integrated design and physical programming. The citation also recognizes his outstanding and visionary leadership in the aerospace community. It is the highest technical award in Messac’s field of engineering.

Prior to his appointment at RPI, Messac was a faculty member in the Department of Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering at Northeastern University in Boston from 1994-2000. There, he led the successful reform of the academic design program.

He was a senior member of the technical staff at The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory in Cambridge, Mass., from 1981-1994. In this position, Messac led and participated in numerous research and development efforts. He pioneered Control Structure Integrated Design, and led NASA efforts in the award-winning development of a large simulation for the dynamics and control of the Stabilized Payload Deployment System, a two-arm payload manipulator for the shuttle orbiter. He also led the development of a large simulation to study the dynamic stability, structural behavior and control properties of the space system composed of the space station (SS), the space shuttle and the translating SS mobile transporter.

Messac holds bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from the Department of Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He was a recipient of the prestigious CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation and has received the AIAA Sustained Service Award. Messac also received the Annual Capstone Design Award from Northeastern University in recognition of the successful pedagogical reforms he led while there.

He is a fellow of the AIAA and the ASME. He is the former chair of the AIAA Multidisciplinary Design Optimization (MDO) Technical Committee (TC), and is a former member of the AIAA Structural Dynamics TC. He currently serves as the national AIAA deputy director for aerospace with responsibility for four technical committees.

Messac is an editorial board member and associate editor of the journal, Optimization and Engineering. He is an associate editor of the AIAA Journal, and former member of the AIAA Publications Editorial Advisory Board of the Education Series. He is also an editorial board member of the Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization Journal of the International Society for Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization.

Messac has authored or co-authored more than 165 publications. He is a member of the honor societies Sigma Xi, Tau Beta Pi and Sigma Gamma Tau, a member of the Strathmore, and the International Who’s Who.

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