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  February 23, 2004

Professor Elected To National
Academy Of Engineering

Kenneth Reifsnider, Pratt & Whitney Chair of Design & Reliability in the mechanical engineering department, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), one of the most coveted professional honors that can be bestowed upon a U.S. engineer.

Members are elected to the Academy based on "important contributions to engineering theory and practice, including contributions to the literature of engineering theory and practice." Also eligible are "those who have demonstrated accomplishment in the pioneering of new fields of engineering, making major advances in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/ implementing innovative approaches to engineering education."

Reifsnider, a leader in the science and technology of composite materials, who joined the UConn engineering faculty in fall 2002, was cited for his "development of strength-life relationships in composite materials and structures."

"This marks the first time in the history of the University of Connecticut that a full-time, tenure-track faculty member was elected to the National Academy of Engineering during his career at UConn," said Amir Faghri, dean of engineering. "This tribute honors a researcher of impressive international credentials, and brings distinction to the University."

Two other faculty members in the School of Engineering were NAE members when they joined UConn: David Crow, distinguished professor-in-residence of mechanical engineering, and Anthony DeMaria, professor-in-residence of electrical and computer engineering.

New members are elected to the Academy yearly by current members, who are among the world's leading engineers. Currently, NAE has approximately 2,000 active members, including 33 from Connecticut. Some have had careers in the private sector, others in government or academia; and their expertise spans the spectrum of engineering and technological disciplines.

NAE, a wing of the National Academies, was established in 1964 as a private, independent, non-profit institution charged with advising the federal government and conducting independent research in engineering and technological subjects of importance to the nation.

Reifsnider received his doctorate from the Johns Hopkins University, where he studied solid mechanics. He had a long career at Virginia Tech as an academic and administrator before coming to UConn. Reifsnider held the Alexander Giacco Chair of Engineering Science & Mechanics at Virginia Tech. He also has been director of the Virginia Institute for Material Systems, creator and principal investigator of the VPI Navy Integrated Information Technology Initiative, and deputy director of the NSF Center for High Performance Polymeric Adhesives and Composites.

Reifsnider also co-founded the Center for Composite Materials & Structures at Virginia Tech in 1982. At that time, he encountered many obstacles, he says. "People were skeptical. There was a reservation that composites were a fad and not a fundamentally sound concept. It's natural to be skeptical.... Now the science is viewed as a glorious edifice."

Reifsnider is editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Fatigue; associate editor of the Journal of Applied Composites; and founding editor-in-chief of the Journal of Composites Technology and Research. He is also a founding member of the editorial board of the ASME Journal of Fuel Cell Science and Technology, established last year. His book, Damage, Tolerance and Durability of Composite Materials Systems, was published in 2002.

Since coming to UConn, he has been expanding his previous research, in which he seeks to understand the physical changes that control the useful life of a functional composite-based component. Reifsnider's particular interests lie in understanding how composites act and react to extreme temperatures and stresses. He is involved in applying these concepts to high- and low-temperature fuel cell systems as a faculty member affiliated with the Connecticut Global Fuel Cell Center.

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