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Honors and Awards

Jian Cao Elected to National Academy of Engineering

Cao honored for contributions to pioneering a flexible sheet forming system and leadership in manufacturing

Jian Cao

Northwestern Engineering’s Jian Cao, whose work has led to innovative manufacturing processes and systems that have resulted in increased material manufacturability and more flexible, energy-efficient manufacturing, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).

Election to the academy is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. Cao is one of 111 new members and 22 new foreign members announced by the NAE today, February 9.

Cao was cited by NAE for “pioneering a flexible sheet forming system and for leadership in manufacturing.” She will be formally inducted during the NAE’s annual meeting on October 2.

Jian CaoCao is the Cardiss Collins Professor of Mechanical Engineering and (by courtesy) professor of civil and environmental engineering and of materials science and engineering at the McCormick School of Engineering.

 “We are tremendously proud to see Jian recognized at the highest level in her field,” said Julio M. Ottino, dean of Northwestern Engineering. “Since arriving at Northwestern more than 25 years ago, she has been a tremendous example of an outstanding researcher, builder, collaborator, and colleague.”

Cao’s research interests in manufacturing have focused on deformation-based and laser additive processes. Her work has made fundamental contributions to the characterization of the effects of material structure on forming behavior of metals and woven composites. Her research group has designed unique manufacturing equipment for microforming, dieless sheet forming, and additive manufacturing. Her current work has direct impacts on energy-efficient manufacturing, surface engineering, and distributed manufacturing.

The director of the Northwestern Initiative for Manufacturing Science and Innovation (NIMSI), Cao has received several awards, including the Milton C. Shaw Manufacturing Research Medal and the Blackall Machine Tool and Gage Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). Her other honors include SME’s Gold Medal and Taylor Medal and the Charles Russ Richards Memorial Award from ASME and Pi Tau Sigma. In 2019, the US Department of Defense named Cao a Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellow, the most prestigious and competitive single investigator research award given by defense department. She was also named a 2019 fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Cao, who joined Northwestern in 1995, has published more than 300 technical articles, including more than 200 journal articles, 10 book chapters, and op-ed articles on manufacturing. She has given nearly 150 invited talks and has 15 patents.

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.