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Ted Belytschko Elected to National Academy of Sciences

Northwestern University professor Ted Belytschko, an expert in computational methods for computer simulation of mechanical events such as car crash, drop test and other prototype testing, has been elected a member of the prestigious U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS).

Membership in the NAS is one of the highest honors given to a scientist or engineer in the United States. Belytschko is among 72 new members and 18 foreign associates from 15 countries recognized for their distinguished and continuing achievements in original scientific research.

Belytschko will be inducted into the academy next April during its 149th annual meeting in Washington, D.C. There are currently just over 2,000 active NAS members; more than 180 living academy members have won Nobel Prizes. Among the renowned NAS members are Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer, Thomas Edison, Orville Wright and Alexander Graham Bell.

Belytschko is the Walter P. Murphy Professor of mechanical engineering and professor of civil and environmental engineering at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.

His main interests lie in the development of computational methods for engineering problems. Belytschko has developed explicit finite element methods that are widely used in crashworthiness analysis and virtual prototyping. Recently, the methods he developed have been instrumental in enabling the auto industry to replace physical prototype testing with computer simulation in crashworthiness design. These methods also have replaced prototype testing in many other industries, thus shortening the design cycle.

Belytschko chaired the committee that developed the McCormick School’s Engineering First program, which began in 1996. He is co-director of the National Science Foundation Summer Institute on Nano Mechanics, Nanomaterials and Micro/Nanomanufacturing at Northwestern.

One of the most cited researchers in engineering science, he is the recipient of numerous honors, including membership in the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Belytschko is editor-in-chief of the International Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering and co-author of the books “Nonlinear Finite Elements for Continua and Structures” and “A First Course in Finite Elements.”

The academy was established in 1863 by a congressional act of incorporation signed by Abraham Lincoln that calls on the academy to act as an official adviser to the federal government, upon request, in any matter of science or technology.

- Megan Fellman, University Relations