Engineering Professor Pol Spanos has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) for developing methods of predicting the dynamic behavior and reliability of structural systems in diverse loading environments.
Spanos, the Lewis B. Ryon Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Civil and Environmental Engineering, was among 74 engineers elected to NAE membership last month, putting the organization’s total U.S. membership at 2,195.
Election to the NAE is among the highest professional distinctions accorded an engineer. Academy membership honors those who have made important contributions to engineering research, practice or education, including significant contributions to engineering literature and to the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering or developing or implementing innovative approaches to engineering education. Spanos becomes the 13th NAE member on Rice’s engineering faculty.
“This is the highest distinction for anyone in engineering and brings honor to Rice, the school of engineering, the department and to Pol,” said Sidney Burrus, dean of the George R. Brown School of Engineering.
Spanos’ research focuses on the dynamics and vibrations of structural and mechanical systems under a variety of loads, with a particular emphasis on systems exhibiting nonlinear behavior or exposed to risk-inducing conditions. His research group also studies fatigue and fracture issues of modern composite materials and signal processing algorithms for biomedical applications.
Spanos’ solution techniques are applied to such themes as estimation of seismic spectra; flow-induced vibrations of offshore rigs, marine risers and pipelines; certification of payloads in space shuttle/station missions; directional oil-well drilling; vibration and aseismic protection of structures and equipment; wind-loads simulation; and signal processing of electrocardiograms and electroencephalograms.
Since joining Rice in 1984, Spanos has earned numerous honors and awards, including a National Science Foundation (NSF) Presidential Young Investigator Award, American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) medals for outstanding achievement in mechanical engineering within 10 and 20 years of college graduation, a Huber Prize for outstanding research from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the A.M. Freudenthal Medal from ASCE for lifetime contributions to probabilistic mechanics and reliability analysis, and the Newmark Medal from ASCE for his contributions to the theory and applications of dynamics and vibrations. Spanos has also received the Research Award for Senior Scientists from the Humboldt Foundation in Germany for his contributions to engineering mechanics and the Stochastic Dynamics Research Prize from the International Association for Structural Safety and Reliability in Kyoto, Japan. He is a two-time recipient of Rice’s George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching and was an ASME distinguished lecturer from 1997 to 2003.
Spanos is a fellow of the American Academy of Mechanics, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Alexander von Humboldt Association of America. He is a member of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, the International Association for Structural Safety and Reliability, the American Society of Engineering Education and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.