Valasek recipient of the 2015 Leland Atwood Award

Image of John ValasekDr. John Valasek, Professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, has been selected as the recipient of the 2015 Leland Atwood Award in honor of his outstanding work with students at Texas A&M University as well as his contributions to the aerospace profession. 

The John Leland Atwood Award of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Aerospace Division and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) was established in 1985 in honor of John Leland Atwood, an outstanding engineer who played a major role in the development of aviation and aerospace technologies for more than 50 years. This award, given annually, recognizes the accomplishments of a superior aerospace engineering educator and his or her contributions to the profession.

valasek_UAS.jpgDr. Valasek says that, to him, the spirit of John Leland Atwood is about making a difference in students’ lives.  “I feel very blessed to receive this recognition because two professors of mine who made a difference and helped shape my academic career, Conrad F. Newberry and Jan Roskam, are themselves recipients.  I also have five colleagues here at Texas A&M who are previous recipients, and they continue to mentor me to this day.  I hope to do the same for my students past, present, and future.” 

Valasek joins previous recipients of the Leland Atwood Award in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M University: Stan H. Lowy (1977), John L. Junkins (1988), Walter E. Haisler (1990), Leland A. Carlson (1997), and Helen L. Reed (2007). 

Valasek is the Director for the Center for Autonomous Vehicles and Sensor Systems (CANVASS). His research on cyber-engineering systems is focused on bridging the gap between traditional computer science topics and aerospace engineering topics, and has been funded by AFOSR, AFRL, ONR, NASA, FAA, NSF, and industry. Valasek has been on the aerospace engineering faculty at Texas A&M since 1997, and teaches courses in Aircraft Design, Atmospheric Flight Mechanics, Modern Control of Aerospace Systems, Vehicle Management Systems, and Cockpit Systems & Displays. He is the author / co-author of three recent books: Morphing Aerospace Vehicles and Structures (Wiley, 2012); Advances in Intelligent and Autonomous Aerospace Systems (AIAA, 2012), and Nonlinear Multiple Time Scale Systems in Standard and Non-Standard Forms: Analysis and Control (SIAM, 2014).

Valasek has served as Chair of Committee to 41 completed graduate degrees, including 6 NSF, 6 NDSEG, and 1 SMART graduate fellowship recipients, and his students have won national and regional student competitions in topics ranging from aircraft design to smart materials to artificial intelligence.  His Ph.D. student Anshu Narang-Siddarth ’12 was the 2013 recipient of the Texas A&M University Award for Outstanding Accomplishment in Research, Doctoral Level, for her dissertation titled “Analysis and Control of Non-Affine, Non-Standard Singularly Perturbed Systems.”  He has also supervised the research of 54 undergraduate students.  From 2006 – 2008 he served as the National President of Sigma Gamma Tau, the aerospace engineering honor society, and he served as the faculty advisor to the Texas A&M student branch of AIAA from 2000-2009, receiving the National Faculty Advisor Award from AIAA in 2005. 

Valasek is a Scholar of the Montague Center for Teaching Excellence, and a recipient of the Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award for Teaching, College Level in 2004, and University Level in 2008.  He is a two time recipient of the B.P. Amoco Teaching Excellence Award from the College of Engineering, and a three time recipient of the Thomas U. McElmurry Teaching Excellence Award from the aerospace engineering department. 

Valasek earned the B.S. degree in Aerospace Engineering from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona in 1986 and the M.S. degree with honors and the Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Kansas, in 1990 and 1995 respectively.

The award is endowed by Rockwell Collins and consists of a $2,000 honorarium and a distinctive engraved medal.  Dr. Valasek will be recognized at the AIAA Science and Technology Forum and Exposition (SciTech) in January 2015.