The National Academy of Engineers named two University of Michigan faculty to its ranks last Monday. Mechanical Engineering Prof. Ellen Arruda, and Mark Daskin, professor and chair of Industrial and Operations Engineering, were selected by the NAE in one of the highest possible professional distinctions for engineers.

Candidates’ selection is based on broad factors, specifically involvement in and contributions to the engineering community, according to the NAE website. The award also seeks individuals in the engineering field developing “innovative approaches” to education.

Arruda and Daskin will join the approximately 21 other engineering professors at the University who are part of the NAE. Arruda is the only woman on the list.

The Academy applauded Arruda for her research on polymer and tissue mechanics and her ability to use her findings in real-world products. Arruda is currently working on developing a shock-absorbing helmet that uses polymer structures to more evenly distribute the blow when there is an accident affecting the brain.

She is also researching the soft tissues in knees to do simulations to try to improve knee repair surgery after an injury such as an ACL tear.  

“The simulations tell us things about how you might alter the stresses or strains that you put on the knee after ACL replacement or how you might design a better graft if you tear your ACL,” she said.

For Arruda, being named to the NAE is especially important, as she knows that her peers and colleagues nominated and voted for her.

“It’s an incredibly exciting honor, it’s almost overwhelming,” she said. “It’s always rewarding when you get an award that is the result of several of your peers voting for you, and in this case it’s a large group of people voting on this process so it’s rewarding and humbling to know that a lot of my peers thought to recognize me.”  

Daskin, an editor for the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers, was commended for his creative work on location optimization and its relevance in industrial, service and medical systems. He also studies the effectiveness of supply chain design and the problems in health care operations research.

Daskin works with students to use optimization in other contexts, such as understanding the causes of drug shortages in the US or how to maximize diversity within groups in his classes.

Daskin views the honor as a way to give back to the engineering community.

“I also think it’s an opportunity for service,” he said. “I believe the National Academy of Engineering is called on for various studies when people in the government want to do so, so it’s an opportunity for service.”

Arruda is also excited for the opportunity to serve the engineering community, specifically women and underrepresented minorities, through her membership in NAE.

“I want to learn more about what opportunities there are to work with members of the academy,” she said.

Arruda and Daskin are two of 106 new members of the NAE. This year’s new membership will up the American membership to 2,281 and international membership to 249.

The two, who will be formally inducted into the NAE in Washington D.C. on Oct. 8, are among the Leaders and the Best at the University, according to Alec Gallimore, dean of engineering and professor of aerospace engineering, in a Michigan News article.

“This signature accomplishment by these esteemed faculty members represents the leadership and excellence we value at Michigan Engineering,” he said.

Arruda looks forward to working with the NAE, and she is thankful for her peers that nominated her.

“It seems that a good deal of people work hard to make these nominations possible, and it’s a lot of work to nominate a peer and get them to the point that they get elected, so I would like to express gratitude to those anonymous people out there who made this happen for me,” she said.   

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