Jan D. Achenbach Lecture Honors Longtime McCormick Faculty Member

Lecture series supported through generosity of McCormick alumni and friends

The McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science has announced the creation of a new lecture series in honor of Jan D. Achenbach, a longtime McCormick faculty member and preeminent researcher in solid mechanics and quantitative non-destructive evaluation.

The Jan D. Achenbach Lecture recognizes Achenbach for his extraordinary contributions to the field of mechanics, as well as his profound impact on McCormick’s departments of Mechanical Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Engineering Sciences and Applied Mathematics.

Jan Achenbach

An endowment for the lecture series was provided through the generous contributions of McCormick alumni and friends and by the scientific publishing company Elsevier. The lecture will bring a high-profile speaker to campus each year.

“We are grateful for the support of the alumni and friends who wished to honor Jan’s distinguished career,” said McCormick Dean Julio M. Ottino. “Jan has made significant contributions to McCormick and to mechanics research over the past five decades, and this lecture is a fitting tribute to his impact.”

Achenbach is Walter P. Murphy and Distinguished McCormick School Professor Emeritus of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Engineering Sciences and Applied Mathematics, and Mechanical Engineering at McCormick.

Born in the Netherlands, Achenbach became a member of Northwestern’s faculty in 1963. Since then, he has become highly respected for his work in the areas of wave propagation in solids and for pioneering the field of quantitative non-destructive evaluation. 

Achenbach received a National Medal of Technology in 2003 for his contributions to engineering research and education and for pioneering methods for detecting dangerous cracks and corrosion in aircraft, advances that have led to improved air safety.  He was also awarded a 2005 National Medal of Science, the nation's highest honor for innovation in technology and science. 

He was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 1982, a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1992, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1994. In 1999, he was elected a corresponding member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences, and in 2009, he was elected a fellow of the World Class Universities Program of the National Research Foundation of Korea. He is also an honorary member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and a fellow of ASME, ASA, SES, AMA, and AAAS. His awards include the 2012 ASME Medal, the Timoshenko Medal, the William Prager Medal, and the Theodore von Karman Medal. In 2011, he was awarded a rare honorary doctorate degree from China’s Zhejiang University.

Achenbach is founder of Northwestern's Center for Quality Engineering and Failure Prevention, a state-of-the-art laboratory for quality control in structural mechanics.