5 Houston Researchers Appointed to Prestigious Engineering Organization

A national organization named its latest cohort of new members — which includes Elon Musk — and five Houston-area innovators also made the cut.

the National Academy of Engineering elected 111 new members and 22 international members, bringing the total number of American members to 2,388 and the number of international members to 310. This appointment ranks among the highest professional honors in an engineer’s career. Each member was found to have made significant contributions to “engineering research, practice, or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to engineering literature,” according to a press release.

The newly elected class will be formally inducted at the NAE’s annual meeting on October 2. The five Houston-area appointees and what they are recognized for are:

  • Richard G. Baraniuk, C. Sidney Burrus Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Rice University. For the development and wide dissemination of open educational resources and for fundamental contributions to compressive sensing.
  • Donald Nathan Meehan, President, CMG Petroleum Consulting Ltd. For technical and business innovation in the application of horizontal well technology for oil and gas production.
  • Pradeep Sharma, MD Anderson Chair Professor and Department Chair, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Houston. To establish the field of flexoelectricity, leading to the creation of new materials and devices and insight into biophysical phenomena.
  • Leon Thomsen, Chief Scientist, Delta Geophysics Inc. For contributions to seismic anisotropy concepts that have produced major advances in subsurface analysis.
  • David West, Corporate Fellow, Corporate Research and Innovation, Saudi Basic Industries Corp. For solutions to problems with technological, commercial and societal impacts while advancing the chemical sciences by applying the fundamental principles of reaction engineering.

In one HU press release, Sharma says it’s the highest honor he can get as an engineer. The NAE recognized Sharma’s work in the field of flexoelectricity, a relatively understudied exotic phenomenon that has the potential to provide functionality similar to that of piezoelectrics.

“Nature has provided us with very few piezoelectric materials even though their applications in energy harvesting and sensor manufacturing are very important. What we’ve done is use theory to design materials that work like piezoelectric materials, so they can create electricity,” Sharma explains in the release.

Sharma has worked at UH since 2004 and previously conducted research at General Electric for three years.

“Professor Sharma’s recognition by the National Academy of Engineering highlights a career full of outstanding research that has contributed to the understanding of engineering and helped discover solutions to some of the world’s most important problems,” said Paula Myrick Short, HU senior vice president. for Academic and Provost Affairs, in the release.

At Rice, Baraniuk’s engineering career includes computer signal processing, most recently in machine learning. He is best known for spearheading the creation of Connectionsone of the first open source educational initiatives, and its successor, OpenStaxwhich publishes high-quality, peer-reviewed, free-to-download textbooks.

“It’s an auspicious time that the NAE citation mentions open education, as February 7 marked the 10th anniversary of OpenStax’s release of its first free and open textbook,” he says in a statement. rice outlet. “It’s good that it’s happening in the same week, and it’s worth pointing out that if there was ever a team effort, it’s Connexions and OpenStax.”

Baraniuk has been with Rice since 1992 and has three degrees in electrical and computer engineering.

Aubrey L. Morgan