Four ASME Fellows to Receive the Society’s Highest Accolades at the Honors Assembly Next Month

Oct. 6, 2017

Zdeněk P. Bažant

The accomplishments and contributions of eight of the engineering profession’s leading innovators will be celebrated next month at the annual ASME Honors Assembly, to be held during the ASME 2017 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition (IMECE 2017) in Tampa, Fla. Four of these honorees — Zdeněk P. Bažant, Ph.D., P.E., Ramesh K. Agarwal, Ph.D., John W. Cipolla, Ph.D., and Michael F. Modest, Ph.D. — have been selected to receive the Society’s most prestigious awards at this year’s ceremony, which will take place Monday, Nov. 6 from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Tampa Convention Center.

Dr. Bažant, the McCormick Institute professor and W.P. Murphy professor of civil and mechanical engineering, and materials science at Northwestern University, will receive the Society’s highest award, the ASME Medal, during the assembly. Established in 1920, the ASME Medal is awarded for eminently distinguished engineering achievement.

Bažant, an ASME Fellow, is being recognized for developing a statistical theory of the strength and lifetime of quasibrittle structures of random material properties, verifying it with experimental evidence, and demonstrating its relevance to structural safety; and for formulating a kinetic energy release theory for material comminution into particles of random sizes under extreme strain rates.

An internationally acknowledged expert in the mechanics of materials and structures, Bažant joined the Northwestern University faculty in 1969. His work in the area of the mechanics of quasibrittle fracture, damage and creep, size effects and scaling, structural stability, finite strain and failure probability has resulted in the development of computational models used to gauge the safety of bridges, dams, buildings, aircraft, cars, ships, nuclear containments and other structures. The author of seven books and many journal articles, Bažant received the Society’s Worcester Reed Warner Medal in 1997, the Nadai Medal in 2008, the Timoshenko Medal in 2009 and Honorary Membership in 2012.

Ramesh K. Agarwal

Dr. Agarwal, Dr. Cipolla and Dr. Modest will each receive ASME Honorary Membership — the highest level of Society membership — at the ceremony. First awarded in 1880, the founding year of the Society, ASME Honorary Membership is conferred upon a person who has made distinctive contributions to engineering, science, industry, research, public service, or other pursuits allied with and beneficial to the engineering profession.

Agarwal, the William Palm Professor of Engineering in the department of mechanical engineering and materials science and the director of the Aerospace Research and Education Center at Washington University in St. Louis, is being honored for pioneering high-impact research contributions to computational fluid dynamics and heat transfer; for innovative contributions to mechanical engineering education; and for meritorious service to the mechanical engineering profession.

During his 40-year career, Agarwal has conducted research in computational fluid dynamics, computational acoustics and electromagnetics, computational materials science and nanotechnology, and multidisciplinary design and optimization. He has authored or co-authored more than 600 publications and has presented numerous plenary, keynote and invited lectures at conferences in more than 60 countries.

Agarwal, an ASME Fellow, has served on the Fluid Engineering Division’s Fluid Dynamics Technical Committee since 1988 and the division’s Computational Fluids Dynamics Technical Committee since 1996. He has been the recipient of a number of awards, including the Society’s Fluids Engineering Award in 2001, the Charles Russ Richards Memorial Award in 2006, and the Edwin F. Church Medal in 2011. The Fluid Engineering Division also awarded him its 90th Anniversary Medal in 2016.

John W. Cipolla

Cipolla, a distinguished professor emeritus at Northeastern University’s College of Engineering, is being recognized for distinguished contributions to the mechanical engineering profession, particularly for expanding the scientific knowledge of thermofluids, emphasizing mathematics-based education, and enhancing the value of ASME through dedicated service to the Center for Education.

Cipolla, who has conducted research in the areas of the kinetic theory of gases and plasmas, radiative transfer and aerosol mechanics, was named chair of Northeastern University’s department of mechanical engineering in 1991. He merged the department with the university’s industrial engineering department in 1995 and then served as chair of the combined department until 2003, when he was named vice provost for graduate education. Cipolla, who returned to teaching mechanical engineering in 2004, retired in December 2016.

Cipolla, who is a Fellow of ASME, has been an active volunteer with the Society for more than 50 years, beginning as a student member at Drexel and later a faculty advisor to the student section at Northeastern. He has held positions on a number of ASME committees, including chair of the Mechanical Engineering Department Heads Committee, the Committee on Engineering Accreditation, the General Awards Committee and the Committee on Honors. He received the ASME Dedicated Service Award in 2011 and the Edwin F. Church Medal in 2014.

Michael F. Modest

Modest, a distinguished professor emeritus of mechanical engineering at the University of California, Merced, is being named Honorary Member in recognition of his pioneering and impactful scholarly contributions in the fields of radiative heat transfer and laser machining of ceramics; for excellence in educating and training future generations of engineers and scientists; and for dedicated service to the profession.

During his career in academia, which included 24 years as a mechanical engineering professor at Pennsylvania State University and eight years as the Keith and Elinor Shaffer and Betty Lou George Professor of Engineering at UC Merced, Modest made pioneering and influential contributions to the fields of radiative heat transfer and laser processing of materials. He is particularly known for his work on thermal radiation in combustion systems. Modest is the author of Radiative Heat Transfer, the most widely used textbook in the field, and has authored or co-authored more than 350 refereed publications including 10 book chapters and many keynote and invited papers.

Modest, who is an ASME Fellow, has served the Heat Transfer Division in various capacities for more than 40 years. He was the recipient of ASME’s Heat Transfer Memorial Award in 2005 and the Heat Transfer Division’s 75th Anniversary Award in 2013.

For more information on the Honors Assembly and the special events scheduled to take place at IMECE 2017, visit