The chair of the mechanical engineering department at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Dr. Erik Antonsson, has been named chief technologist of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, also in Pasadena.
The appointment was announced by JPL Director Dr. Charles Elachi. A national search was led by Dr. Richard Murray, chair of the engineering and applied science division at Caltech. Murray and his committee interviewed a number of nationally recognized technology leaders.
"Based on their input, other inputs from our stakeholders, and my interviews with the candidates, I determined that Dr. Antonsson's expertise and experience are an outstanding match for the position," Elachi said.
Antonsson has been a Caltech professor and researcher since 1984. He organized the Engineering Design Research Laboratory at Caltech and has made major research contributions in the area of formal methods for engineering design. He is perhaps best known on campus for his unique course, the ME72 Engineering Design Laboratory, where students get a real-world opportunity to learn how to design new devices. He serves on the Caltech Faculty Board and the Engineering Division Steering Committee. Antonsson has been chair of mechanical engineering since 1998.
"I am excited to have the opportunity to join JPL, and to contribute to the development of new technologies," said Antonsson.
He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering, with distinction, from Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., in 1976, and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass., in 1982.
Antonsson has won a variety of prestigious awards, including a National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award, the Richard P. Feynman Prize for Excellence in Teaching and the TRW Distinguished Patent Award. He is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He has published over 100 scholarly papers about engineering design research, has edited two books and holds five U.S. Patents.
Antonsson, who lives in Pasadena with his wife and three children, will join JPL in early September, and will also remain at Caltech as a professor of mechanical engineering. Until Antonsson begins at JPL, Dr. Leslie Deutsch will continue as the acting chief technologist to ensure a smooth transition. JPL is a division of Caltech.