Linda Broadbelt, Wei Chen Elected to National Academy of Engineering

Two Northwestern professors receive one of engineering’s highest honors for their significant contributions

Northwestern Engineering’s Linda Broadbelt and Wei Chen have been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), one of the highest professional distinctions awarded to an engineer.

Broadbelt, Sarah Rebecca Roland Professor and professor of chemical and biological engineering, and Chen, Wilson-Cook Professor in Engineering Design and professor of mechanical engineering, stand among the 86 new members and 18 new foreign members announced by the NAE today, February 7. They will be formally inducted during a ceremony at the NAE’s annual meeting on October 6, in Washington, D.C.

“Linda and Wei are outstanding researchers, collaborators, and educators,” said Julio M. Ottino, dean of the McCormick School of Engineering. “We are extremely proud to have them recognized at the highest level in our field. They are role models for faculty and students, and I am delighted to see them recognized with this well-deserved honor.”

Linda BroadbeltBroadbelt was cited for “contributions to complex kinetic modeling, particularly for understanding the pathways by which hydrocarbons and polymers undergo pyrolysis.” Chen was cited for “contributions to design under uncertainty in products and systems, and leadership in the engineering design community.”

Broadbelt is internationally recognized for contributions in complex kinetics modeling of hydrocarbon chemistry, particularly for the development of automated mechanism generation techniques and methods for specification of rate coefficients. She is applying her computational expertise to diverse fields, including catalysis, degradation kinetics, and biological pathway identification. Much of her work has been adopted by industry.

Broadbelt, who joined Northwestern’s Chemical and Biological Engineering’s faculty in 1994, also serves as associate dean. Along with being Fulbright Distinguished Scholar and visiting researcher at the Imperial College London, Broadbelt has earned many honors, including a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, and an E.V. Murphree Award in Industrial and Engineering Chemistry from the American Chemical Society. She is a Fellow of AIChE and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She received the R.H. Wilhelm Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers in 2018.

Wei ChenChen, who joined Northwestern in 2003, has made important contributions to design under uncertainty and decision-based design. Chen’s research aims to develop rational and computationally efficient design methods based on data science, optimization, statistical inference, and decision analysis for use in engineering design and manufacturing problems. Currently, her research involves close collaborations with experts in mechanics, manufacturing, materials science and engineering, social science, and computer science.

She serves as director of the Integrated DEsign Automation Laboratory (IDEAL) as well as the Predictive Science & Engineering Design (PSED) Cluster, and the co-director of the Design Cluster. Her many awards include Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), an ASME Design Automation Award, National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Award, and Pi Tau Sigma Gold Medal Achievement Award. She also serves as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Mechanical Design.

Founded in 1964, the National Academy of Engineering is a private, independent, nonprofit institution that provides engineering leadership in service to the nation. It has more than 2,000 peer-elected members and foreign associates, senior professionals in business, academia and government, who are among the world’s most accomplished engineers.