Inside Rensselaer
* Assad Oberai
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ASME Honors Assad Oberai
Assad Oberai, an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Nuclear Engineering, has won the 2007 American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Special Achievement Award for Young Investigators in Applied Mechanics.

The ASME award recognizes Oberai’s fundamental developments in solving inverse problems and problems with multiple spatial and temporal scales. As such, the award “is validation that we are hiring truly outstanding faculty,” said Alan Cramb, dean of Rensselaer’s School of Engineering.

It is the fourth national award in three years for Oberai, who also is affiliated with the Institute’s Inverse Problem Center and Scientific Computation Research Center. In 2005, Oberai received the National Science Foundation (NSF) Career Award for his work on large eddy simulation of turbulent flows. In 2004, he received the Department of Energy (DOE) Early Career Principal Investigator Award in applied mathematics for developing algorithms for solving multiscale problems. That same year, he received the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program Concept Award for his work on the detection and diagnosis of breast cancer.

“Winning a competitive award, such as an NSF career or DOE career award, suggests excellence,” Cramb said. “Winning both awards, as Dr. Oberai has done, suggests that you’re one of the best people in the country.”

Oberai came to Rensselaer in 2005, drawn in part by the Institute’s computing capabilities and its emphasis on collaborative, multidisciplinary research. He points to the “tremendous increase in computational power” — as evidenced by Rensselaer’s Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovations — as one of the most significant developments in his field. He also cites the extension of computational mechanics to areas such as biomedicine as a significant trend.

One example of this trend is Oberai’s research on the mechanical properties of healthy and cancerous breast tissue. The goal is to apply the research data to improve breast cancer detection: to devise ways to use noninvasive imaging technology not only to pinpoint lesions in the breast but also to determine whether those lesions are benign or malignant.

“This trend of applying computational mechanics to biomedical applications began in the late ’60s and ’70s and has really taken off since then,” Oberai said. “As a result, people in my discipline can now make significant contributions to biomedical engineering. That is exciting — and rewarding.”

Oberai earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Osmania University in India, his master’s in mechanical engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and his doctorate in mechanical engineering from Stanford University.
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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 2, Number 2, January 31, 2008
©2008 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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