Vakakis named Willett Professor of Engineering
MechSE Professor Alexander Vakakis has been named a Donald Biggar Willett Professor of Engineering, effective in August.
Vakakis is currently the Grayce Wicall Gauthier Professor and is an affiliate of the Department of Aerospace Engineering. His new appointment is the result of his exceptional research, teaching, and service.
His current research includes the implementation of passive nonlinear targeted energy transfer for aeroelastic instability (flutter) suppression, vortex-induced vibration suppression, seismic mitigation, blast protection, and vibration/shock isolation of mechanical and structural components; dynamics of non-smooth dynamical systems, with emphasis to vibro-impacting systems and systems with friction; nonlinear system identification and reduced order modeling; structural health monitoring and damage detection; essentially nonlinear structural acoustics of granular media; strongly nonlinear micro- and nano-resonators; nonlinear vibration energy harvesting; and theoretical studies of dynamical systems and bifurcations in higher dimensional settings. He co-runs the Linear and Nonlinear Dynamics and Vibrations Laboratory with two faculty from the Department of Aerospace Engineering.
In addition to being exceptionally active in his research, Vakakis is an excellent teacher. He has been included on the List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent seven times in the past five years, while teaching several undergraduate courses and advanced graduate classes.
Vakakis joined the MechSE Department in 1990 after completing his PhD in applied mechanics from the California Institute of Technology that same year.
The Donald Biggar Willett Professorship honors the memory of its namesake, who attended the University of Illinois from 1916 to 1921. He started his career as a partner in the family business, Suburban Coal and Supply Company and later worked as a self-employed bookkeeper and tax preparer. In 1994, his widow, Elizabeth Marie Willett, willed her entire estate to the College of Engineering, which established the Willett Research Initiatives Fund.