Three University of Maryland professors are among the 124 engineers newly elected to the 2023 Class of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).

  • Ji-Cheng “JC” Zhao “for contributions to computational alloy design, integrated computational materials engineering, and high-throughput methods used in industrial products.”
  • Inderjit Chopra “for advancing rotorcraft aeromechanics/aeroelastic analysis, enhancing bearingless rotors, active control, and human-powered helicopters.”
  • Rama Chellappa “for contributions to digital image analysis, automatic face recognition, and applications.”

With the elections of Zhao, Chopra, and Chellappa, Maryland Engineering has had 33 affiliated faculty elected to NAE.

“Through their many discoveries, patents, and fundamental contributions to the engineering field, Drs. Zhao, Chopra, and Chellappa are well-deserving of this national honor,” said UMD President Darryll J. Pines. “From developing innovative new materials to pushing the boundaries of flight to advancing artificial intelligence, their work is central to solving the grand challenges of our time.”

Election to NAE is considered one of the highest professional recognitions in an engineer’s career. Academy members are peer-selected for pioneering new technologies, advancing engineering education, outstanding business and government leadership, and contributions to engineering research and practice.

“Congratulations to Drs. Zhao, Chopra, and Chellappa for their election to the National Academy of Engineering. Election to NAE reflects one’s outstanding contributions, both technically and in service to humanity: We’re proud to have such accomplished faculty as part of the Clark School community, ones who are dedicated to excellence in their field and to creating a better society,” said Samuel Graham, Jr., dean of UMD’s A. James Clark School of Engineering. “We celebrate with these Maryland Engineers today and thank the National Academies for recognizing their contributions to our profession.”

Joining the UMD faculty in this year’s class is bioengineer and former Vice President for Research Laurie E. Locascio, who departed Maryland in 2022 following news of her confirmation by the U.S. Senate to serve as Under Secretary for Standards and Technology in the Department of Commerce, “for development and commercialization of microfluidics technologies and visionary leadership of NIST for the benefit of US emerging technology.”

Meet UMD’s NAE Class of 2023

headshot of Ji-Cheng J-C Zhao

Ji-Cheng “JC” Zhao, chair of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and Minta Martin Professor, is a pioneer in the development of accelerated methodologies for discovery and rapid screening for metals, and a renowned expert on computational design of materials. He has made outstanding contributions to basic and applied research in metals and their deployment in critical applications in energy infrastructure. Zhao was the 2021 recipient of the TMS William Hume-Rothery Award, presented annually to recognize a scientific leader for exceptional scholarly contributions to the science of alloys. He also received a 2022 Humboldt Research Award and is slated to receive the 2023 J. Willard Gibbs Phase Equilibria Award from ASM International. He is a Fellow of ASM International, the Materials Research Society, the National Academy of Inventors, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society (class of 2023). Zhao is also an inventor on 49 issued U.S. patents and has experience in industry (12 years at GE), government (four years at ARPA-E), and academia.

headshot of Inderjit Chopra

Inderjit Chopra, Distinguished University Professor and director of the Alfred Gessow Rotorcraft Center, has been a UMD faculty member for more than four decades. He has worked on various fundamental problems related to aeromechanics of helicopters, including advanced designs, aeroelastic stability, active vibration control, composite blades, smart structures, micro air vehicles and delivery drones, and comprehensive analysis. Among his VTOL innovative designs are a world-record holder human-powered helicopter, cyclocopter, da Vinci aerial-screw, MARS helicopter, solar-powered helicopter, and quad-biplane. His direct graduate advising resulted in 61 Ph.D. and 125 M.S. degrees, and his students are now playing dominant roles in rotorcraft industry, academia, and federal labs. Chopra is a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, VFS (the Vertical Flight Society, formerly the AHS/American Helicopter Society), the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and an Honorary Fellow of AHS. Among other honors, he was recently awarded AIAA’s 2023 Walter J. and Angeline H. Crichlow Trust Prize, which includes a $100,000 cash prize.

headshot of Rama Chellappa

Rama Chellappa, College Park Professor and professor emeritus at UMD and Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at Johns Hopkins University, is a pioneer in the area of artificial intelligence. His work in computer vision, pattern recognition, and machine learning has had profound impact on areas including biometrics, smart cars, forensics, and 2D and 3D modeling of faces, objects, and terrain. He is the 2020 recipient of the Jack S. Kilby Signal Processing Medal—a top honor from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), where Chellappa is a life Fellow—for his contributions to image and video processing. Among other honors, he has won technical achievement awards from the IEEE Computer Society and the IEEE Signal Processing Society; the latter also awarded him with its highest honor, the Society Award. Chellappa joined Johns Hopkins in 2020 after 29 years at the University of Maryland, where he served lengthy stretches as chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) and director of the Center for Automation Research. He maintains ties to UMD through his appointments in ECE and the Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS).

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February 7, 2023

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