Professor honored for 50 years of service to the University of Delaware

When Tsu-Wei Chou, the longest-serving professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, was asked how he wanted to celebrate his 50th anniversary at the University of Delaware, he requested a symposium about the past and future of composite materials—the materials that have become his life’s work.

In the field of composite materials, Chou is a top scholar, with over 380 journal articles and book chapters and two books published, editor positions at the international journal Composites Science and Technology, and a lengthy list of awards and honors. He co-founded UD’s renowned Center for Composite Materials (CCM) 45 years ago.

On October 18, 2019, dozens of faculty members, colleagues, friends and more attended a symposium at the University of Delaware’s STAR Tower Audion in honor of Chou, the Unidel Pierre S. DuPont Chair of Engineering.

Tsu-Wei Chou, Unidel Pierre S. du Pont Chair, has been a faculty member at UD for 50 years.

The symposium began with remarks from Ajay Prasad, Chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and Levi Thompson, Dean of the College of Engineering. Suresh Advani, George W. Laird Professor of Mechanical Engineering served as the moderator for the symposium.

“As a teacher, there is no greater satisfaction or source of pride than seeing your students grow to emulate you and the best that you demonstrated,” said Thompson. “For 50 years, Tsu-Wei has taught, mentored and supervised countless students who are now thriving as university faculty and industry leaders.”

Several of those former students and post-docs attended the Oct. 18 event, including one of the symposium’s featured speakers: Amanda Wu, Research Scientist in the Material Science Division at Lawrence Livermore National Lab.

The featured speakers also included Karl Schulte, Professor and Former Head of Institute of Polymers and Composites of Hamburg University of Technology in Germany; Michael Wisnom, Professor of Aerospace Structures and Director of Advanced Composites Center for Innovation and Science at the UK’s University of Bristol; and Brian Wardle, Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Raymond L. Bisplinghoff Faculty Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Mechanical engineering department chair Ajay Prasad, symposium speaker Karl Schulte, Professor Tsu-Wei Chou, symposium speaker Brian Wardle, College of Engineering Dean Levi Thompson, symposium speaker Michael Wisnom, George W. Laird Professor of Mechanical Engineering Suresh Advani, and symposium speaker Amanda Wu.

The event ended with an open podium session, which featured short talks by Advani; Shridhar Yarlagadda, assistant director of CCM; Bingqing Wei, professor of mechanical engineering at UD; and Kun Fu, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at UD.

Later that evening, about 80 people attended a banquet in honor of Chou. Provost Robin Morgan gave remarks and also delivered remarks on behalf of President Dennis Assanis, and Thompson gave a toast. David P. Roselle, President Emeritus of the University of Delaware, also attended the banquet.

Vivian (Mei-Sheng) Chou, Provost Robin Morgan, and Tsu-Wei Chou are pictured.

During his address to the gathering, Prasad shared the impact that Chou has had on mechanical engineering at UD.

“Fifty years in academia is an incredible milestone,” said Prasad. “For some perspective, if you think back to 50 years ago, Neil Armstrong was taking his first steps on the moon. Around the same time, in the fall of 1969, a young professor by the name of Tsu-Wei Chou took one small step on to the campus of the University of Delaware, and over the following decades, through his outstanding body of work, it turned out to be a giant leap for our department, for our university, and for the scientific community at large.”

Prasad then announced two new awards named in honor of Chou.

The Tsu-Wei & Mei-Sheng Chou Graduate Scholar Award, named for Chou and his wife, will be an annual award for the best research work by a mechanical engineering graduate student. The student will be selected based on the publication of a journal article which shows the potential for lasting impact in a particular scientific or engineering field. Funds for this award came from the Chou family, as well as many colleagues and friends.

The Tsu-Wei Chou Achievement Award will be an annual award given to a student from CCM. This award is funded by a gift from CCM.

Chou’s three children made speeches at the event. Finally, Chou then addressed the crowd and received a lengthy standing ovation.