Kaushik Bhattacharya, Caltech's Howell N. Tyson, Sr., Professor of Mechanics and professor of materials science, has received the Warner T. Koiter Medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and Michael Ortiz, Frank and Ora Lee Marble Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, has received the society's Timoshenko Medal.
Established in 1996, the Warner T. Koiter Medal recognizes distinguished contributions to the field of solid mechanics. The award honors the late Warner T. Koiter, professor of applied mechanics at Delft University of Technology, for his fundamental work in nonlinear stability of structures, diligence in the effective application of these theories, international leadership in mechanics, and effectiveness as a teacher and researcher. This year, Bhattacharya, who is also the executive officer for mechanical and civil engineering in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science, received the medal "for the development of novel, rigorous, and predictive methods for the multi-scale behavior of modern engineering materials at scales ranging from the sub-atomic to the polycrystal, with special focus on multi-functional materials." Bhattacharya's research group studies the mechanical behavior of solids and uses theory to guide the development of new materials.
"Our challenge is not to shape the material to get the function we want, but how we create a specific material that already possesses the function we want. We are in fact merging both material and machine—and that is absolutely exciting!" says Bhattacharya.
The Timoshenko Medal, established in 1957, is given to recognize contributions to the field of applied mechanics. This award commemorates the late Stephen P. Timoshenko's contributions to applied mechanics as an author and a teacher. Timoshenko is often revered as the "father of mechanical applied mechanics" and worked at the Kiev Polytechnic Institute, St. Petersburg Polytechnic Institute, Ways of Communication Institute, University of Michigan, and Stanford University. Ortiz was honored "for his seminal, groundbreaking and remarkably creative contributions" that resulted in the creation of new methods and models for the field of solid mechanics.
Ortiz views his research as a "bridge between fundamental science and industry," focusing on real-world applications. His research group is interested in "understanding and modeling the behavior of materials and structures across length and time scales" and in "understanding the limits of usability of materials," according to his website.
"The recognition of one's peers is the sweetest thing of all in our line of business, and it is one of the main things that keep us going in our careers. To say that I am deeply moved and honored by this award is an understatement, I am actually tickled pink," says Ortiz.
Bhattacharya and Ortiz received the medals during the 2015 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, held in Houston, Texas, in November.