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Spanos wins ASME's Richards Award


Pol SpanosPol D. Spanos, the Lewis B. Ryon Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Civil Engineering at Rice University, has received the prestigious Charles Russ Richards Memorial Award for 2012 from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).

A member of the National Academy of Engineering since 2005 and of several foreign academies, Spanos was honored Nov. 14 at the annual ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition in Houston.

The ASME award is given yearly in recognition of “outstanding achievements in mechanical engineering for 20 years or more following graduation.” Spanos received a five-year diploma in mechanical engineering and engineering science from the Technical University in Athens, Greece. From the California Institute of Technology he earned a master’s degree in civil engineering in 1974 and a Ph.D. in applied mechanics in 1976. He joined the Rice faculty in 1984.

Spanos is the first ASME member honored for achievements at three career mileposts – at the under-10-year mark, more than 10 years and now more than 20 years.  He said: “I consider myself above all as a mentor to students, but of course I am also a researcher.”

His research into dynamics and vibrations focuses on their probabilistic, non-linear and signal-processing aspects, with applications to structural, space, offshore, vehicles and materials engineering.

Spanos is a Fellow of ASME, the American Academy of Mechanics, the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Alexander von Humboldt Association of America. He is a member of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, the International Association for Structural Safety and Reliability, the American Society of Engineering Education and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and is a corresponding member of the National Academy of Greece.

He has published more than 300 papers in archival journals and industrial reports, and at technical conferences, and is editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Non-Linear Mechanics and of the Journal of Probabilistic Engineering Mechanics. Spanos has supervised more than 80 master’s students and almost 50 Ph.D. students.  He is a registered professional engineer in Texas, and a licensed civil engineer and mechanical engineer in Greece. He has served as a consultant or adviser to many industrial and government projects, and as an expert witness in several federal districts.

The Richards Memorial Award was established in 1944 by Pi Tau Sigma (the National Mechanical Engineering Honor Society) and ASME in honor of Richards, founder of Pi Tau Sigma at the University of Illinois. There he served as chair of mechanical engineering and dean of engineering, and later as president of Lehigh University.