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Three Elected to National Academy of Engineering

by Jan Ambrosini, Engineering Public Affairs
posted Mar. 4, 1998

Three UC Berkeley professors – two noted engineers and a Nobel Prize-winning physicist – have been elected members of the National Academy of Engineering, the highest professional honor for an American engineer.

The new members from the faculty are William C. Webster, professor of civil and environmental engineering and associate dean for research and student affairs in the College of Engineering; Alberto Sangiovanni-Vincentelli, professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences; and Nobel Laureate physicist Charles H. Townes, University Professor Emeritus and professor in the graduate school.

Their election brings the total Berkeley faculty membership to 76 out of 1,941 nationally and 155 foreign associates. Among academic institutions, Berkeley has one of the highest representations in the academy with more than 7 percent of total members being faculty or alumni.

Four Berkeley alumni also were among the 84 new members and seven new foreign associates announced Feb. 13. The new members of the academy will be inducted in ceremonies in October in Washington, D.C.

Academy membership honors those who have made “important contributions to engineering theory and practice, including significant contributions to the literature of engineering theory and practice,” and those who have demonstrated “unusual accomplishment in the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology.”

William Webster, who joined the Berkeley faculty in 1969, is an expert on naval architecture and ocean engineering. He received his PhD here in naval architecture in 1966.

He pioneered the modeling of waves, necessary for accurate basin testing of small-scale ship models. A leader in the design of active anti-rolling tanks, Webster’s designs have been incorporated into the design of today’s container ships, liquefied-gas carriers and offshore drilling vessels.

As associate dean for research and student affairs in the College of Engineering since 1991, Webster oversees undergraduate advising, academic policies and special issues regarding research.Alberto Sangiovanni-Vincentelli, an authority on circuit simulation, computer-aided design of integrated circuits, and logic synthesis, joined the faculty in 1976. He received his engineering doctorate from the Politechnico di Milano in 1971 in electrical engineering and computer science.

His recent projects have focused on design methodologies and tools for mixed signal integrated circuits and embedded controllers, with applications in automotive and telecommunications systems.

In 1981, Sangiovanni-Vincentelli received the Distinguished Teaching Award, the highest honor awarded by the Berkeley campus for teaching.

Charles H. Townes joined the physics department in 1967. He is winner of 47 major awards, including the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics for his invention of the maser and concepts that led to the creation of the laser. He also has received the National Medal of Science, the IEEE Medal of Honor and election to the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Townes’ election to the NAE comes from his significant contributions to the engineering community through his studies of the maser-laser principle, which spawned a new industry. He currently is involved in astrophysics research, specifically infrared interferometry to study young stars still imbedded in the dust clouds from which they formed.

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