Faculty Directory
Wei Chen

Chair and Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Wilson-Cook Professor in Engineering Design


2145 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208-3109

847-491-7019Email Wei Chen


Integrated Design Automation Lab


Mechanical Engineering


Theoretical and Applied Mechanics Graduate Program


Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA

M.S. Mechanical Engineering, University of Houston, Houston, TX

B.S. Mechanical Engineering, Shanghai Jiatong University, China

Research Interests

Simulation-based design under uncertainty; AI and machine learning for predictive science and engineering design; uncertainty quantification in multiscale analysis; data-driven design of heterogenous nano- and microstructural materials and programmable metamaterials; digital twins and design for advanced manufacturing; topology optimization; multidisciplinary design optimization; network analysis for modeling consumer preference and decision-based design.

Dr. Chen is the Director of the Integrated Design Automation Laboratory (IDEAL) and the Founding Director of the Predictive Science and Engineering Design (PSED) Cluster. Her current research involves the use of statistical inference, machine learning, and uncertainty quantification techniques for adaptive discovery and design of a wide range of emerging materials systems, by integrating knowledge and representation from multiple disciplines and domains such as materials, manufacturing, structural mechanics, data science, and design optimization. Her research methods have been integrated into commercial software and making direct societal impacts through industrial collaborations and applications in developing multifunctional, lightweight, portable, energy efficient, and sustainable materials, products and processes.

Significant Recognition

  • NSF BRITE Fellow, for research on “AI-Enabled Discovery and Design of Programmable Material Systems”, 2023
  • Engineering Science Medal, Society of Engineering Science, 2022
  • Charles Russ Richards Memorial Award, American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and Pi Tau Sigma, 2021, to recognize outstanding achievement by an individual who graduated in mechanical engineering more than 20 years ago.
  • Member of National Academy of Engineering (NAE), elected 2019
  • Robert E. Abbott Award, ASME Design Engineering Division (DED), 2019
  • Ver Steeg Faculty Award, The Graduate School, Northwestern University, 2018
  • Design Automation Award, American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Design Engineering Division, 2015
  • Best Paper Award, ASME Design Automation Conference, 1998, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2019, and 2022
  • Fellow, American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), 2009
  • Ralph R. Teetor Education Award, Society of Automotive Engineering, 2006
  • National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Award, 1996 - 2001
  • ASME Pi Tau Sigma Gold Medal achievement award, 1998, to recognize outstanding achievement by an individual who graduated in mechanical engineering more than 10 years ago.
  • Sigma Xi Doctoral Dissertation Award, Georgia Tech Chapter, 1996

Significant Professional Service

  • Elected Member, ASME Mechanical Engineering Department Heads Executive Committee (MEDHEC), 2022-2024.
  • Member, National Academies' Board on Mathematical Sciences and Analytics, 2020-present.
  • President, International Society of Structural & Multidisciplinary Optimization (ISSMO)
  • Editor-in-Chief, ASME Journal of Mechanical Design
  • Senior Advisor of Editorial Board, Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization
  • Associate Editor, Design Science
  • Elected Member of Executive Committee, International Society of Structural and Multidisciplinary Design (ISSMO) (2015-present)
  • Elected Member, Executive Committee of ASME Design Engineering Division (2009-2015); Chair (2013-2014)
  • Elected Member, Advisory Board of the Design Society (2007-2013)
  • Associate Editor, ASME Journal of Mechanical Design (2003-2006; 2010-2013)
  • Associate Editor, SIAM/ASA Journal on Uncertainty Quantification (JUQ) (2015-2017)
  • Department Editor, IIE Transactions (Department on “Design Engineering and Product Realization) (2014-2017)
  • Associate Editor, Engineering Optimization (2007-2009)
  • Associate Editor, Journal of Design and Manufacturing Automation (2000-2003)

Selected Publications

Book: Chen, W., Hoyle, C. and Wassenaar, H-J., Decision-based Design: Integrating Consumer Preferences into Engineering Design, Springer, 2012.

Zhang, H., Chen, W.W., Rondinelli, J,, and Chen, W., "ET-AL: Entropy-targeted Active Learning for Bias Mitigation in Materials Data", Applied Physics Review, 10 (2), https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0138913, 2023.


Van Beek, A., Karkaria, V., Chen, W, “Digital Twins for the Designs of Systems: a Perspective”, Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization, 66(3), DOI:10.1007/s00158-023-03488-x, 2023.


Chen, W.W., Lee, D., Balogun, O., and Chen, W., “GAN-DUF: Hierarchical Deep Generative Models for Design under Free-From Geometric Uncertainty”, Journal of Mechanical Design, 145(1), https://doi.org/10.1115/1.4055898, 2023.


Lee, D., Chan, Y-C, Chen, W.W., Wang, L., and Chen, W., "t-METASET: Task-Aware Acquisition of Metamaterial Datasets through Diversity-Based Active Learning." Journal of Mechanical Design, 145 (3), 031704, https://doi.org/10.1115/1.4055925, 2022.


Zhang, H., Chen, W.W., Iyer, A., Apley, D., and Chen, W., “Uncertainty-Aware Mixed-Variable Machine Learning for Materials Design”, Scientific Report,  Sci Rep 12, 19760, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-23431-2, 2022.


Huang, T., Liu, Z., Wu, C-T., Chen, W., “Microstructure-guided Deep Material Network for Rapid Nonlinear Material Modeling and Uncertainty Quantification”, Computer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering, 398, Article 115197, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cma.2022.115197, 2022.


Chen, W., Iyer, A., and Bostanabad, R., “Data-Centric Design of Microstructural Materials Systems”, Engineering, 10, pg 89-98,

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eng.2021.05.022, 2022.


Chan, Y., Da, D., Wang, L, and Chen, W., “Remixing Functionally Graded Structures: Data-Driven Topology Optimization with Multiclass Shape Blending”, Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization 65 (135), https://doi.org/10.1007/s00158-022-03224-x, 2022.


Wang, L., Boddapati, J., Liu, K., Zhu, P., Daraio, C., and Chen, W., “Mechanical Cloak via Data-Driven Aperiodic Metamaterial Design”, PNAS, https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2122185119, 2022.


Da, D., Chan Y.C., Wang, L, and Chen, W., “Data-driven and topological design of structural metamaterials for fracture resistance”, Extreme Mechanics Letters, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eml.2021.101528, 2021.

In the Classroom

Professor Chen has taught the courses: Intro to Mechanical Design and Manufacturing, Engineering Design (Capstone Design), Computational Methods for Engineering Design, Engineering Optimization for Product Design & Manufacturing, and Advanced Computational & Statistical Methods for Engineering Design.

Wei Chen in the News