College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Wayne Chen named Vance and Arlene Coffman Endowed Department Chair of Aerospace Engineering

Weaning Wayne Chen

Weinong Wayne Chen has been named the Vance and Arlene Coffman Endowed Department Chair of Aerospace Engineering at Iowa State University. Chen’s appointment begins March 15.

“Wayne is an accomplished educator and researcher who will bring deep expertise in aerospace engineering, paired with an outstanding vision for the future. Working closely with faculty and staff, I know he’ll ensure the Department of Aerospace Engineering builds on its many strengths – and pursues exciting new opportunities,” said W. Samuel Easterling, the James L. and Katherine S. Melsa Dean of Engineering.

As chair, Chen will oversee the success of the aerospace engineering undergraduate program, which is one of the largest majors at Iowa State; master’s degree and Ph.D. degree programs in aerospace engineering and engineering mechanics; 51 faculty and staff; and $4.7 million in research expenditures. 

The Department of Aerospace Engineering is also home to Make to Innovate, a unique project-based, hands-on, team learning program, and the Iowa Space Grant Consortium, a NASA teaching, research and outreach program.

“I’m honored to lead a department so well known for preparing tomorrow’s engineering leaders and advancing tomorrow’s aerospace technologies,” said Chen. “I look forward to collaborating with Department of Aerospace Engineering faculty, staff, students, alumni and other partners to reach new heights of innovation in education and research.”

Chen joins Iowa State from Purdue University’s College of Engineering, where he is the associate dean for research and innovation and the Reilly Professor, with appointments in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics and School of Materials Engineering, and a courtesy appointment in the School of Mechanical Engineering.

He’s previously served as associate head of the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics and associate director of the Center for Prediction of Reliability, Integrity and Survivability of Microsystems.

With an established research reputation in dynamic behavior of advanced materials, Chen’s exceptional contributions to the field of experimental solid mechanics have been recognized in numerous national and international awards, including election to associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Society for Experimental Mechanics. He also received an honorary doctorate from Tampere University of Technology in Finland.

Prior to Purdue, Chen held a faculty position at the University of Arizona, Tucson. He earned a Ph.D. in aeronautics/materials science from California Institute of Technology, a master’s degree in systems engineering and a bachelor’s degree in aircraft design from Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics.