NEW YORK (TIP): An Indian-American expert, known for his groundbreaking work on autonomous robots, has been named dean of a prestigious US university in Pennsylvania.
Vijay Kumar has been named dean of Penn Engineering, effective July 1. A scholar and teacher of international renown, Dr. Kumar has been a member of the Penn Engineering faculty for more than two decades and has served in a wide range of key leadership roles. The announcement was made by Penn President Amy Gutmann and Provost Vincent Price.
“Vijay’s superb academic judgment, compelling vision for the future of engineering and applied science and proven track record as a leader and administrator make him the perfect choice to lead Penn Engineering to even greater heights,” President Gutmann said.
Dr. Kumar joined the Penn Engineering faculty in 1987 and currently serves as UPS Foundation Professor with appointments in the departments of mechanical engineering and applied mechanics, computer and information science, and electrical and systems engineering. As deputy dean for education from 2008-2012, he was instrumental in the creation of several innovative master’s degree programs. Earlier, he served as chair of the department of mechanical engineering and applied mechanics from 2005-2008, deputy dean for research from 2000-2004 and director of the General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Laboratory, a multidisciplinary robotics and perception laboratory, from 1998-2004. During a scholarly leave from 2012-2014, he served in the White House as assistant director for robotics and cyber physical systems in the Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Dr. Kumar is recognized around the world for his groundbreaking work on the development of autonomous robots and on biologically inspired algorithms for collective behavior. The author of more than 400 refereed articles and papers and more than 20 books and book chapters, he is also a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). He is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award, Penn’s Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching (Almanac April 23, 1996), the ASME Mechanisms and Robotics Award, the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Distinguished Service Award and the Engelberger Robotics Award.
He has mentored outstanding doctoral students who are themselves leaders in research and education. He is also an exemplar of Penn’s commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship. He and his students have founded several companies using technologies and tools developed in his research programs.
The selection of Dr. Kumar as the next dean of Penn Engineering successfully concludes a comprehensive search to find a successor to Eduardo Glandt, whose extraordinary 17-year term as dean is a fitting capstone to a brilliant career at Penn that stretches back nearly four decades. Under Dr. Glandt’s leadership, the School of Engineering & Applied Science has grown in both size and stature, adding superb and diverse faculty and students with a commitment to interdisciplinary teaching and scholarship. The school’s research and teaching facilities have been similarly expanded and upgraded with exceptionally modern and beautiful new buildings, including Levine Hall, Skirkanich Hall and most recently the Singh Center for Nanotechnology, which the Wall Street Journal called one of the best new buildings in the nation in 2013.
“Vijay Kumar has the experience and vision-and the deep knowledge of Penn and Penn Engineering-that are critical to moving the engineering & applied science programs to a position of global preeminence,” President Gutmann said.