Twenty-nine members of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics were elected as Fellows for 2019, including three current Virginia Tech faculty: Wing Ng, the Christopher C. Kraft Endowed Professor of Mechanical Engineering; Rakesh Kapania, the Mitchell Professor of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering; and Robert Canfield, professor and assistant department head in the Kevin T. Crofton Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering, all in the College of Engineering.

As the largest aerospace professional society in the world, AIAA fellows have made notable and valuable contributions to the arts, sciences, and technology. Fellowship is limited to one for every 125 associate fellows each year. The induction ceremony will be held May 14, 2019, in Crystal City, Virginia.

Virginia Tech alumni Fayette Collier and Jaiwon Shin are also being honored. Collier, who works at NASA’s Langley Research Center, earned his bachelor's, master’s, and doctorate in aerospace and ocean engineering in 1981, 1982, and 1988, respectively; and Shin, who works at NASA Headquarters, earned his doctorate in mechanical engineering in 1989.

Wing Ng, the Robert C. Kraft Endowed Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Nominated for his work in industry as CEO and founder of Techsburg, Ng has conducted research in aero-propulsion and turbomachinery since 1984 and is a global expert in aerodynamic testing. His company, Techsburg, performs mostly proprietary and classified research and development work for aerospace companies, the gas turbine industry, and government laboratories. His use of innovative wind tunnel facilities allows for cost-effective critical data collection for aerospace companies to improve their products.

Through Ng’s company and his university laboratory, he has helped develop quieter, more fuel-efficient, and safer aerospace products. A member of AIAA since 1980 and an associate fellow since 1992, Ng has spent his professional career as a member of Virginia Tech, arriving in 1984 as an assistant professor. He received his doctorate in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1984. He was elected to Virginia Tech’s Entrepreneur Hall of Fame in 2017.

Rakesh Kapania, the Mitchell Professor of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering

Kapania was nominated for his significant contributions to teaching and research in computational structural mechanics, aeroelasticity, optimal design of unitized structures, multidisciplinary design optimization, and composite structures. As a scholar-manager, Kapania has led two large programs toward the design of civilian and military future aerospace vehicles. He is part of a team selected by NASA to perform research on performance adaptive aeroelastic wings and by the U.S. Navy on a program to bring machine learning to the analysis of submarine structures.

Kapania's path-breaking work on curvilinearly stiffened panels and aeroelastic optimization of wings using curvilinear spar and ribs has spawned similar research world-wide. Kapania is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and a recipient of the Platinum Jubilee Award from the Indian Institute of Science. He has been with Virginia Tech since 1985 and has been the Mitchell Professor since 2008. A former president of the Engineering Faculty Organization, he won Dean’s awards for research excellence in 2000 and 2010. He received a doctorate from the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Purdue University in 1985. He has been a member of AIAA since 1982 and was elected an associate fellow in 1991.

Robert Canfield, Virginia Tech Professor of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering

Canfield, technical director of Virginia Tech’s Airworthiness Center, is world-renowned for his work to develop a methodology for automated structural design and optimization that has been recognized as the gold standard in the field. Users of software that incorporate this methodology include NASA, Department of Defense, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, academia, and international corporations. The design methodology is featured in a widely cited textbook on "Reliability-Based Structural Design" that he co-authored. His leadership as chair of the AIAA Multidisciplinary Design Optimization Technical Committee led to the growth of its premier conference.

From 1984-2008, Canfield served in the U.S. Air Force, retiring as a lieutenant colonel with tours at the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Air Force Institute of Technology. In 2009, he joined Virginia Tech and during his tenure has been the assistant head for academic affairs and an interim department head. Canfield is a Hokie, earning his doctorate in engineering mechanics in 1992. He also holds a master’s in aeronautics and astronautics from Stanford University and a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from Duke University. Canfield has been an AIAA member since 1985 and was elected an associate fellow in 2000.

Written by Rosaire Bushey