Balas appointed head of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics

Institute of Technology Dean Steven L. Crouch has appointed Professor Gary Balas head of the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics, effective July 1, 2006. He will succeed Professor William Garrard, who has served as department head for 14 years.

A leader in the field of experimental and theoretical control systems, Balas has been a faculty member at the University since 1990. He currently is co-director of the University’s Control Science and Dynamical Systems Center. His research focuses on the application of software-enabled control to uninhabited aerospace vehicles and on the development of robust, state-of-the-art algorithms and tools for control engineering. He has been a visiting scholar and lecturer at institutions around the world and is a consultant to government and industry.

In addition to his research, Balas teaches courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels and serves as director of graduate studies for the Control Science and Dynamical Systems Center. He also is a graduate advisor in the department. From 2002 to 2004 he was director of graduate studies for the department, and during spring semester 2006 he has been group advisor for an Institute of Technology freshman seminar course.

Balas is active in the University governance system as an elected member of the Faculty Consultative Committee, the Institute of Technology Faculty Consultative Committee, and the University Senate. Currently he is involved in the University’s strategic planning process as a member of the Academic Task Force on Graduate Reform: Student Support and the Administrative Task Force on People, and as a steering committee member of the Academic Task Forces on Collaborative Research and Research Infrastructure.

Balas received a bachelor of science in civil and electrical engineering in 1982 and a master of science in 1984, both from the University of California–Irvine. In 1989 he earned a Ph.D. in aeronautics and astronautics from the California Institute of Technology.

Balas is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He is associate editor of the International Federation of Automatic Control’s Control Engineering Practice Journal and has served as a reviewer for many other international journals. He is author or co-author of more than 100 refereed publications and invited papers.

His recent honors include the 2005 IEEE Control Systems Society Technology Award (jointly with Professor Andy Packard, University of California–Berkeley) and the 2006 American Automatic Control Council’s Hugo O. Schuck Best Paper Award (jointly with Dr. Tamas Keviczky, his former graduate student and current postdoctoral researcher). He is a 2005–06 Fellow in the Academic Leadership Program (ALP) sponsored by the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, a consortium of 12 public research universities. The University of Minnesota selected Balas to participate in the ALP, which is designed to develop the leadership and managerial skills of faculty on CIC campuses who have demonstrated exceptional ability and administrative promise.