UT Arlington appoints National Academy of Engineering member to launch materials and structures institute

National acclaim in hire

Dr. Kenneth Reifsnider, an internationally recognized expert in high temperature energy systems and composite materials and a member of the prestigious National Academy of Engineering, will join UT Arlington in June to lead a new Institute for Predictive Performance of Advanced Materials and Structures.

Dr. Reifsnider currently serves as director of the Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Center of Excellence at the University of South Carolina. He is one of the world’s pre-eminent fuel cell materials researchers and is credited with leading South Carolina’s fuel-cell initiative and the state’s effort to develop Solid Oxide Fuel Cells for applications in society.

He becomes the third member of a national academy to join UT Arlington in recent years. In addition to Dr. Reifsnider, Nai Yuen Chen, a distinguished research professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. David Nygren, a renowned physicist and member of the National Academy of Sciences, joined the University last fall as a presidential distinguished professor.

“UT Arlington is rapidly accelerating its research program and attracting world renowned experts to lead the way,” President Vistasp M. Karbhari said. “Dr. Reifsnider will elevate our work in the fundamental areas of strength-life relationships in composite materials and structures, and he will further this University’s impact on using large data sets for diagnostic and prognostic predictions of materials-structure-life relationships and in shaping sustainable urban communities around the globe.”

NAE President C.D. Mote Jr. described Dr. Reifsnider as a distinguished materials scientist and engineer.

“He contributes generously his service on many national committees, including the National Materials Advisory Board and panels of the National Research Council of the National Academies, for which the Academies are extremely grateful,” said Dr. Mote, who is former president of the University of Maryland, College Park. “His leadership as director of the UT Arlington Institute for Predictive Performance of Advanced Materials and Structures will enhance greatly the materials research capabilities of the university.”

G. Wayne Clough, president emeritus at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said Dr. Reifsnider is one of the world's leading authorities on advanced material behavior and response.

“He has filled a succession of leadership roles over his career each with growing responsibilities,” said Dr. Clough, who has earned two Norman Medals and served as Georgia Tech’s president from 1994 to 2008. “UT Arlington is fortunate to have attracted a person of his caliber.”

Dr. Reifsnider said the opportunity to build a research group in this area of mechanical engineering at UT Arlington could not be missed.

“We will focus on materials systems. There is rapid growth in this area of engineering,” Dr. Reifsnider said. “We cannot afford to develop complex systems of materials in high performance structures by trial and error, and the growing cost of maintaining such systems in applications from automobiles to turbines and jet engines is a barrier for the future. We will work to demonetize how to develop and test these engineered materials and structures and the risk of using them in society. Predictive performance based on operational observables and knowledge-based models is the approach we will take. We look forward to working with the agencies and industries to capture this opportunity for our future.”

Erian Armanios, chair of the Mechanical and Aerospace Department in the College of Engineering, called Dr. Reifsnider a pioneer in composites and lauded his many contributions in the field.

“His contributions span the areas of damage tolerance, life prediction, durability, characterization and nondestructive evaluation,” Armanios said. “Most importantly, though, Ken has made his mark on the lives of a generation of researchers starting with his own students.”

Dr. Reifsnider’s crowning achievement, though, was his election to the National Academy of Engineering in 2004 for “the development of strength-life prediction relationships in composite materials.” He also was a White House appointee to the U.S. Air Force National Scientific Advisory Board.

Before the University of South Carolina, Dr. Reifsnider was at the University of Connecticut and Virginia Tech, with visiting positions at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the University of Bristol, England.

He earned his doctorate in metallurgy and his master’s degree in engineering from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Johns Hopkins as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics from McDaniel College in Westminster, Md.

About The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of more than 41,000 students around the world and the second largest institution in The University of Texas System. The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked UT Arlington as the seventh fastest-growing public research university in 2013. U.S. News & World Report ranks UT Arlington fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more, and find UT Arlington rankings and recognition at www.uta.edu/uta/about/rankings.php.