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Dean Aubry is Shaping the Future of Engineers

October 26, 2016

COE Dean Nadine Aubry is shaping the future of engineering education while being recognized for her achievements through prestigious appointments and major awards.

Source: News @ Northeastern

Growing up in France, Nadine Aubry knew that she wanted to har­ness the power of engi­neering to make a pos­i­tive impact on the world. She loved math and sci­ence and drew inspi­ra­tion from her father, an engi­neer him­self, who con­tin­u­ously encour­aged his daughter to pursue her dream.

He taught me about the excite­ment of being an engi­neer, of cre­ating new things for the very first time to help people,” Aubry recalls. “I knew it was going to be hard, but I was con­vinced that I could become an engi­neer and have a tremen­dous impact on society.”

Mis­sion accomplished.

Today, Aubry is dean of the Col­lege of Engi­neering at North­eastern and a member of the National Academy of Engi­neering. Her ground­breaking con­tri­bu­tions to the field of fluid dynamics have earned her the dis­tinc­tion of ‘fellow’ of some of the world’s most schol­arly orga­ni­za­tions, including the Amer­ican Society of Mechan­ical Engi­neers, the Amer­ican Phys­ical Society, the Amer­ican Insti­tute of Aero­nau­tics and Astro­nau­tics, the Amer­ican Asso­ci­a­tion for the Advance­ment of Sci­ence, and the National Academy of Inven­tors.

Notable recog­ni­tion

Over the past few months, Aubry has been appointed to sev­eral other lead­er­ship posi­tions and selected to receive a major award.

In August, she was elected pres­i­dent of the Inter­na­tional Union for The­o­ret­ical and Applied Mechanics, an affil­i­a­tion of some 500 dis­tin­guished rep­re­sen­ta­tives of national mechanics com­mit­tees, soci­eties, and orga­ni­za­tions from 50 coun­tries world­wide. Aubry, who will also serve as the IUTAM rep­re­sen­ta­tive on the Inter­na­tional Council for Sci­ence, is the first woman to hold the four-​​year posi­tion and just the fourth person in the U.S. to be selected for the role.

This is a great honor and a won­derful oppor­tu­nity,” Aubry says. “IUTAM is an exciting orga­ni­za­tion because it stands firm behind a rig­orous sci­en­tific approach to a field so cru­cial to many chal­lenges facing the world, ranging from the sus­tain­ability of our planet to the improved health of all people.”

In Sep­tember, she was selected as the 2017 recip­ient of the G.I. Taylor Medal from the Society of Engi­neering Sci­ence for her out­standing research con­tri­bu­tions in the field of fluid mechanics. She will be for­mally rec­og­nized at the 54th annual Tech­nical Meeting of the Society of Engi­neering Sci­ence, to be held at North­eastern in July 2017.

Aubry, who  cur­rently serves as chair of the NAE’s Fron­tiers of Engi­neering Edu­ca­tion Advi­sory Com­mittee, was also recently elected sec­re­tary of the NAE’s Mechan­ical Engi­neering Section.

Dean Aubry is a world class scholar and engi­neer and a proven admin­is­trator who, as Dean of the Col­lege of Engi­neering, has advanced many new inno­v­a­tive aca­d­emic pro­grams both within COE and in col­lab­o­ra­tion with other col­leges at North­eastern,” said Art Kramer, senior vice provost for research and grad­uate edu­ca­tion. “Her recent awards and acknowl­edg­ments from the Inter­na­tional Union for The­o­ret­ical and Applied Mechanics,  the Society of Engi­neering Sci­ence, and the National Academy of Engineering’s Mechan­ical Engi­neering Sec­tion are well deserved given her many years or out­standing con­tri­bu­tions to engi­neering research.”

The ground­work for a ground­breaking career

Aubry’s path to becoming a global leader in engi­neering was paved in the 1980s. She started out in France, receiving a “diplome d’Ingenieur” from the National Poly­technic Insti­tute of Grenoble and a master’s degree from the Sci­en­tific and Med­ical Uni­ver­sity of Grenoble. She then moved to the United States, earning her doc­torate from Cor­nell University’s Sibley School of Mechan­ical and Aero­space Engineering.

Aubry became known for her pio­neering work on the devel­op­ment of reduced models of tur­bu­lent and other com­plex flows, which are used to design air­planes, sub­marines, and tur­bo­ma­chines, to name just a few appli­ca­tions. Her interest later turned to flows in microflu­idics, the sci­ence of designing, man­u­fac­turing, and for­mu­lating devices and processes that deal with extremely low vol­umes of fluids.

Over the past 30 years, she has held a number of lead­er­ship posi­tions both at her own insti­tu­tions and in pro­fes­sional soci­eties and orga­ni­za­tions. Some of her recent appoint­ments include head of the depart­ment of mechan­ical engi­neering at Carnegie Mellon Uni­ver­sity, chair of the U.S. National Com­mittee on The­o­ret­ical and Applied Mechanics, and chair of the Amer­ican Phys­ical Society’s Divi­sion of Fluid Dynamics.


It is very impor­tant that our stu­dents acquire strong tech­nical and mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary knowl­edge. But it’s just as impor­tant that we make sure that they’re able to apply their knowl­edge and develop the nec­es­sary skills to make sig­nif­i­cant and mean­ingful con­tri­bu­tions to the advance­ment of human society.”
—Dean Nadine Aubry

A bold path for­ward

As dean of the Col­lege of Engi­neering at North­eastern since 2012, she has over­seen the devel­op­ment and imple­men­ta­tion of sev­eral novel cen­ters, depart­ments, and pro­grams within the col­lege. Under her watch, the col­lege has hired nearly 60 new fac­ulty mem­bers and more than dou­bled the number of stu­dents in master’s degree pro­grams from approx­i­mately 1,300 to 2,670 this fall.

In the fall of 2013, the col­lege opened the Michael J. and Ann Sherman Center for Engi­neering Entre­pre­neur­ship Edu­ca­tion, whose inno­v­a­tive cur­riculum is designed to arm engi­neering under­grad­u­ates with the entre­pre­neurial skills to suc­cess­fully pitch and com­mer­cialize their inno­va­tions. And in the spring of 2014, the col­lege cre­ated the Depart­ment of Bio­engi­neering, which incor­po­rated the college’s existing doc­toral pro­gram in bio­engi­neering and devel­oped new bachelor’s and master’s degree pro­grams in the field.

Last fall, the col­lege launched the Edward G. Galante Engi­neering Busi­ness Pro­gram, which offers a pro­gres­sive, multi-​​degree oppor­tu­nity for engi­neering stu­dents. The result is a pro­gram in which stu­dents leverage courses across bachelor’s, master’s, and MBA cur­ricula to achieve a unique set of tech­nical, engi­neering man­age­ment, and busi­ness skills while earning a cer­tifi­cate and poten­tially three degrees—a BS, MS, and MBA—from Northeastern.

Aubry, together with her col­leagues in the Civil and Envi­ron­mental Engi­neering Depart­ment, is cur­rently working to create a new bachelor’s degree pro­gram in envi­ron­mental engi­neering. “Our new major in envi­ron­mental engi­neering will focus on making an impact on the envi­ron­ment and sus­tain­ability, but it will also attract high num­bers of women and under­rep­re­sented minori­ties,” she says, adding that half of the stu­dents cur­rently enrolled in the college’s bio­engi­neering under­grad­uate pro­gram are women. “National data show that more women enroll in envi­ron­mental engi­neering than any other engi­neering dis­ci­pline, with bio­engi­neering being close behind.”

Aubry has also spear­headed research growth both within the Col­lege of Engi­neering and in col­lab­o­ra­tion with other col­leges, resulting in a 50 per­cent increase in research funding over the past four years.

For her, North­eastern is the per­fect place to shape the future of the field as well as the next gen­er­a­tion of engi­neers. “It is very impor­tant that our stu­dents acquire strong tech­nical and mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary knowl­edge,” she says. “But it’s just as impor­tant that we make sure that they’re able to apply their knowl­edge and develop the nec­es­sary skills to make sig­nif­i­cant and mean­ingful con­tri­bu­tions to the advance­ment of human society.”