Inside Rensselaer
* Achille Messac
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Achille Messac Elected Fellow of AIAA
Design optimization pioneer Achille Messac, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, has been elected a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). An award to commemorate this honor will be presented at an AIAA gala on May 14 in Washington, D.C.

The AIAA reserves the title of fellow for “persons of distinction who have made notable and valuable contributions to the arts, sciences, or technology of aeronautics or astronautics.” The professional organization cited Messac for his “outstanding seminal contributions to multidisciplinary design optimization through research in design space exploration, concept selection, robust design, meta-modeling techniques, and physical programming; and broad-based outstanding services to the profession.”

Messac was a pioneer of control structure integrated design in the 1980s. His current research in multidisciplinary design optimization, computational visualization, and decision support systems is aimed at boosting the effectiveness and practicality of industrial processes and consumer products. Closely intertwined with this objective is the exploration and development of modeling methods — including Messac’s invention of the physical programming method — for structural, control, and dynamical systems used in design.

“Professor Messac is clearly a leader in his field and an important asset to his department and the Rensselaer community,” said Alan Cramb, dean of the School of Engineering. “Along with his contributions to the field of engineering design, Achille brings a practical, real-world, results-driven perspective to the lab bench and the classroom. We applaud the AIAA for recognizing such a fine researcher, and congratulate Achille on his achievement.”

“Achille’s physical programming work is strong at a fundamental level, and very pertinent to the real-world design environment where the design engineer relies on intuition and imprecise information in developing the final product,” said Prabhat Hajela, professor of aerospace engineering and vice provost and dean of undergraduate education.

Messac earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Between 1980 and 1994, he researched multibody dynamics, structural optimization, and control structure integrated design as a senior member of the technical staff at the Cambridge, Mass.-based Draper Laboratory. Messac joined the faculty of Northeastern University in 1994, before joining the faculty of Rensselaer’s School of Engineering in 2000.

The author of more than 150 publications, Messac serves on the editorial boards of the Optimization and Engineering Journal and of the Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization Journal. He has also served as an associate editor of the AIAA Journal since 1999, and on the editorial board of the AIAA Publications Education Series. In addition, Messac has served as the chair and technical chair for several international optimization and aerospace
science conferences.

Messac received the AIAA Sustained Service Award in 2006, and the prestigious CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation in 1997. In 1990 and 1991, Messac led a NASA program to develop a large simulation for the dynamics and control of the Stabilized Payload Deployment System, a two-arm payload manipulator for the shuttle orbiter. He received an award for this effort in 1991.

In 2004, Messac was elected a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineering (ASME). He is one of a small number of engineers worldwide to be a fellow of both the ASME and the AIAA.

Messac’s new textbook, Optimization in Practice with Matlab: for Engineering Students and Professionals, is due out in 2008.
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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 2, Number 2, January 31, 2008
©2008 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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