Engineering News

Espinosa, Nocedal Elected to National Academy of Engineering

Leaders in mechanics, machine learning and optimization join alumni Latonia Harris, Gwynne Shotwell, and Stephan Biller in receiving one of the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer

Northwestern Engineering’s Horacio Espinosa and Jorge Nocedal, leaders in mechanics and machine learning and optimization, along with alumni Latonia Harris, Gwynne Shotwell, and Stephan Biller, have been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), one of the highest professional distinctions awarded to an engineer.

The five engineers stand among the 87 new domestic members and 18 new international members announced by the NAE today, February 6. They will be formally inducted during a ceremony at the NAE’s annual meeting on October 4, in Washington, DC.

“We are extremely proud that Horacio and Jorge have been recognized at the highest level in our field.
They are both outstanding researchers and educators, known for their spirit of collaboration,” said Julio M. Ottino, dean of the McCormick School of Engineering. “To also have three outstanding alumni, Latonia, Gwynne, and Stephan, join the ranks of the most accomplished engineers delights me, knowing their foundation was built at Northwestern Engineering.”

Jorge NocedalNocedal, who joined Northwestern in 1983, is a leader in machine learning and optimization. He is the Walter P. Murphy Professor of Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences and (by courtesy) engineering sciences and applied mathematics. He served as chair of the Department of Industrial Engineering from 2013-17.

He was cited “for contributions to the theory, design, and implementation of optimization algorithms and machine learning software.”

Nocedal, who directs the Center for Optimization and Statistical Learning, focuses on optimization, machine learning, optimal control, software, and scientific computing. His highly cited research stands at the intersection of computer science, operations research, and applied mathematics. His career achievements, including vast contributions to the theory of nonlinear optimization methods and the creation of new, widely applied algorithms, earned him the George B. Dantzig Prize in 2012 from the Mathematical Optimization Society and the John von Neumann Theory Prize in 2017, regarded as the most prestigious theory prize in operations research.

Horacio EspinosaEspinosa, who joined Northwestern in 2000, is a leader in engineering mechanics. He serves as the James N. and Nancy J. Farley Professor in Manufacturing & Entrepreneurship and professor of mechanical engineering and (by courtesy) biomedical engineering and civil and environmental engineering.

He was cited “for contributions bridging nanoscale experimentation and atomistic simulations.”

Espinosa’s work focuses on understanding the mechanical behavior of natural and synthetic nanomaterials across scales, from nano to macro, as well as developing micro/nano devices for materials research and personalized medicine. He is a fellow at the American Academy for the Advancement of Science and serves as the director of Northwestern Engineering’s Theoretical and Applied Mechanics graduate program and Institute for Cellular Engineering Technologies. His many honors include the Society of Engineering Science’s Prager Medal and the Society for Experimental Mechanics’ Murray Medal.

Latonia HarrisHarris (MS ’97, PhD ’01) serves as scientific director at the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson.

She was cited “for leadership in biomanufacturing of a breakthrough immunotherapy biotherapeutic, and for outreach activities in STEM education.”

Harris has two decades of experience in biotechnology, pharmaceutical development, and manufacturing sciences, including technical management, early state development, late stage development, process validation, and commercial launch. In her current role, she provides technical and strategic leadership to meet worldwide drug demand for a breakthrough oncology therapy.

Shotwell (’86, MS ’88) is president and chief operating officer of SpaceX, which manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft.

She was cited “for bringing affordable, commercially competitive space transportation to NASA and the US National Security Space Launch.”

Gwynne Shotwell

Under Shotwell’s leadership, SpaceX’s Dragon became the first commercial spacecraft to deliver cargo to and from the International Space Station in 2012. In 2017, the company successfully achieved the historic first re-flight of an orbital class rocket, and in 2018, SpaceX launched Falcon Heavy, the world’s most powerful operational rocket. Last year, she received the prestigious Ralph Coats Roe Medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in a ceremony at Northwestern. She was a member of the McCormick Advisory Council and is a member of the Northwestern University Board of Trustees.

Biller (PhD ’96) serves as vice president for offering management at IBM Watson IoT, an Internet of Things platform that uses the power of Watson to help organizations securely connect, manage, and analyze IoT data.

He was cited "for leadership and advancement of manufacturing technologies and innovations based on the Internet of Things and digital data."

Stephan BillerIn his role at IBM, Biller directs a team of 500 people and leads IBM's suite of IoT software products, using Big Data, AI, and analytics to drive operational excellence from factories and supply chains to the operations of oil fields and power plants. Prior to joining IBM in 2017, he served as chief manufacturing scientist and manufacturing technology leader for General Electric, where he created GE’s Brilliant Factory initiative as well as its Additive Manufacturing software strategy.

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.