College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

“An accomplished educator and researcher:” Wayne Chen becomes Vance and Arlene Coffman Endowed Department Chair of Aerospace Engineering

New Aerospace Engineering department chair Wayne Chen in front of slide stating "Welcome, Wayne" at department reception
Chen is all smiles at a reception in his honor shortly after coming to the department

Chen comes to Iowa State from Purdue University’s College of Engineering, where he was 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 previously served as associate head of Purdue’s 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.

Wayne Chen in department lab with Industrial Advisory Council members and faculty member Travis Grager
Chen paid a visit to a department lab to view senior design class projects. He’s shown with AerE Industrial Advisory Council members Keith Kasych of Spirit AeroSystems (far left) and Dave Halstead, retired, GE Aviation (far right), and AerE faculty member Travis Grager

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.

Chen replaces Alric Rothmayer, who retired from Iowa State in June of 2023 after serving as aerospace engineering chair since 2020. The department’s Partha Sarkar served as interim chair prior to Chen’s hire.

“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.