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Honors and Awards

Wei Chen Selected for 2022 Engineering Science Medal

Chen was chosen for her seminal contributions to design under uncertainty

Northwestern Engineering’s Wei Chen has been selected as the 2022 Engineering Science Medal recipient by the Society of Engineering Science (SES). 

Wei Chen

Chen, Wilson-Cook Professor in Engineering Design and professor and chair of mechanical engineering at the McCormick School of Engineering, was chosen for her seminal contributions to design under uncertainty, in particular for establishing formalism and developing robust design methods to accelerate the use of physics-based simulations in design. The recognition highlights the increasing importance of using computational design methods that take into account various sources of uncertainty in nearly every field of engineering.

The SES Engineering Science Medal is awarded in recognition of a singularly important contribution to engineering science. Chen will be formally recognized during the SES 2022 Annual Meeting in October.

Chen serves as director of the Integrated DEsign Automation Laboratory (IDEAL) and codirector of the Predictive Science & Engineering Design (PSED) cluster program and the Segal Design Institute’s Design Cluster. Her work involves close collaborations with experts in mechanics, manufacturing, industrial engineering, materials science, social science, and computer science.

A member of the National Academy of Engineering, Chen’s honors include the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and Pi Tau Sigma Charles Russ Richards Memorial Award, the ASME Design Automation Award, the Intelligent Optimal Design Prize, and the 2018 Ver Steeg Faculty Award given by The Graduate School at Northwestern. She serves as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Mechanical Design, and is president of the International Society for Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization (ISSMO). She previously served as the chair of the ASME Design Engineering Division.

Designing Better Designs 

Humans have been designing mechanical solutions for their problems since ancient times, but the study of the design process itself—engineering design—came into its own as a research discipline only in the 1980s. 

Chen has stood at the forefront since the field’s early days with her groundbreaking work focused on uncertainty. Manufacturing giants, including Boeing and Ford, use software programs, such as Isight and Altair HyperWorks, that employ her methods. 

“Professor Chen is a model of excellence in everything she does,” says Kevin Lynch, professor of mechanical engineering. “She is a truly devoted leader who commits countless hours to her research and students.”

Read more about Chen in a Fall 2019 Northwestern Engineering profile.