Tien to receive NAE Founders Award

By Jeff Holeman, Public Affairs

06 September 2001 | Former Chancellor and University Professor Emeritus Chang-Lin Tien has been named as this year’s recipient of National Academy of Engineering Founders Award. The award will be presented at the academy’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C. next month.

Tien, who holds the NEC Distinguished Professorship of Engineering, served as the Berkeley’s seventh chancellor from 1990 to 1997. He was the first Asian American to head a major research university in the United States.

The academy is recognizing Tien “for his pioneering research in gas thermal radiation, thermal insulation, and microscale heat transfer, as well as for his leadership in education for youth around the world.”

Tien’s research in heat transfer and thermal science contributed to the safety of high-rise buildings during fires, the design of insulating tiles for the space shuttle, and emergency core-cooling systems for nuclear reactors.

“His research work in the area of heat transfer — in particular radiation heat transfer — was a foundation for building the thermal sciences,” said Arun Majumdar, professor of mechanical engineering at Berkeley. “His work was pioneering and instrumental in developing the modern era of micro-scale and nano-scale heat transfer.”

Majumdar said that Tien’s research on heat transfer during the development of micro-devices has served as the foundation for significant engineering advances developed by Tien’s students and postdoctoral researchers. He added that Tien’s impact on his own students — as well as his impact on engineering education and higher education nationally — was cited by the academy in bestowing its Founders Award on Tien.

The award, established in 1965, recognizes NAE members who have made lifelong contributions to engineering and whose accomplishments have benefited U.S. citizens.

Tien, who retired in July, is currently under care at home because of a continuing medical condition.

Born in Wuhan, China, and educated in Shanghai and Taiwan, Tien completed his undergraduate education at the National Taiwan University and came to the United States in 1956. He completed a master’s degree at the University of Louisville in 1957, and then earned an M.A. and a Ph.D. at Princeton University in 1959. He joined the Berkeley mechanical engineering faculty that same year, leaving Berkeley for a short period (1988 to 1990) to serve as executive vice chancellor of UC Irvine before being named Berkeley’s chancellor.

As chancellor, Tien guided the campus through an era of deep reductions in state funding and spearheaded the university’s response to the ban on affirmative action in admissions and hiring.

The National Academy of Engineering is a private, nonprofit institution that provides technology advice under a congressional charter. Each year it salutes leaders in engineering for their lifetime dedication to their field.


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