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News from the National Academies

Date:  Jan. 4, 2007

Contact:  Randy Atkins, Senior Media Relations Officer

National Academy of Engineering

202-334-1508; e-mail <atkins@nae.edu>

 

Developer of World Wide Web, Father of Biomechanics, and Exceptional Educators Win Highest Engineering Honors of 2007

 

WASHINGTON -- The engineering profession's highest honors for 2007, presented by the National Academies' National Academy of Engineering (NAE), recognize three achievements that have revolutionized how people use information, opened new frontiers of medical research, and guided promising engineers into leadership roles.

 

Timothy J. Berners-Lee will receive the prestigious Charles Stark Draper Prize -- a $500,000 annual award that honors engineers whose accomplishments have significantly benefited society -- "for developing the World Wide Web."

 

Yuan-Cheng "Bert" Fung will receive the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize -- a $500,000 biennial award recognizing engineering achievement that significantly improves the human condition -- "for the characterization and modeling of human tissue mechanics and function leading to prevention and mitigation of trauma."

 

Harold S. Goldberg, Jerome E. Levy, and Arthur W. Winston will share the Bernard M. Gordon Prize -- a $500,000 award issued annually that recognizes innovation in engineering and technology education -- "for the development of a multidisciplinary graduate program for engineering professionals who have the potential and the desire to be engineering leaders."

 

The prizes will be presented at a gala dinner in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 20.

 

The Charles Stark Draper Prize

 

Timothy J. Berners-Lee imaginatively combined ideas to create the World Wide Web, an extraordinary innovation that is rapidly transforming the way people store, access, and share information around the globe.  Despite its short existence, the Web has contributed greatly to intellectual development and plays an important role in health care, environmental protection, commerce, banking, education, crime prevention, and the global dissemination of information. 

 

Berners-Lee demonstrated a high level of technical imagination in inventing this system to organize and display information on the Internet.  He devised a number of innovations:

 

  • The uniform resource identifier (URI), which is used to identify or name a particular resource on the Internet. 

  • HyperText Markup Language (HTML), which provides structure to text-based information on the Web.  With HTML, text is not restricted to a linear format; it can contain links to text, images, or objects in Web documents located elsewhere. 

  • One-way and universal hyperlinks that can point anywhere on the Web, a simple but profound difference from other proposals at that time. 

  • HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP), which conveys or transfers information over the Internet.

Berners-Lee demonstrated brilliant vision by choosing to make the Web with public domain software that is scalable, so that it can always perform efficiently.  Furthermore, the Web's open architecture permits other inventions to build on its unpredictable and limitless potential uses as needs arise.  

 

Berners-Lee proposed his concept for the Web in 1989 while at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).  He launched it on the Internet in 1991 and continued to refine its design through 1993.  He persevered over widespread skepticism during these years. 

 

Berners-Lee is now a senior researcher and holder of the 3Com Founders Chair at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  He is also a professor of computer science in the School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom.  In addition, Berners-Lee continues to guide the evolution of the Web as founder and director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an open, international forum that develops standards for the Web.

 

The Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize

 

Yuan-Cheng "Bert" Fung is known as the "father of modern biomechanics" for pioneering the application of quantitative and analytical engineering principles to the study of the human body and disease.  His accomplishments and insights have directly contributed to designs, inventions, and applications that save lives, mitigate the severity of soft tissue injury, enhance the recovery and functionality of injured soft tissue, and improve the effectiveness and longevity of prosthetic orthopedic devices.

 

Fung, a professor emeritus of bioengineering at the Jacobs School of Engineering at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), became interested in the mechanics of the human body after spending 20 years making significant contributions in aeronautics.  In the early 1960s, while still a professor at the California Institute of Technology, he began applying his understanding of stress and strain to the study of blood vessels and cells.  In 1966, Fung joined UCSD to establish one of the first bioengineering programs in the country and to fully devote himself to studying the mechanical aspects of the body.

 

Fung's theories on the mechanical properties and functions of blood cells and capillary blood vessels have led our understanding of microcirculation, endothelial biology, and atherosclerosis.  His "sheet-flow" theory provided a quantitative description of pulmonary circulation, hypertension, edema, and respiratory distress syndrome.  Problems related to severe thorax impact injuries have been solved by Fung's "stress wave propagation" theory.  Morphometric data worked out by Fung on coronary blood vessels, pulmonary vascular tree, and intestines have proved invaluable for theoretical analyses.  His quantitative methods for characterizing stress-strain behavior of human tissue -- now known as quantitative biomechanics -- have led to fundamental advances in understanding how tissues interact with dynamic environments. 

 

Dramatic vehicle safety enhancements of recent years are directly attributable to Fung's concepts of soft tissue response to impact, its rate of stress-strain relaxation, and its response to pressure change.  He explained his insights and models in numerous papers and in the classic, enduring reference, Biomechanics: Mechanical Properties of Living Tissue (Springer Verlag, 1981), which is credited with improving vehicle design and crash safety.  Fung's research has also been used to develop products that protect against explosive compressions, such as personal body armor for military forces and emergency responders. 

 

More recently, Fung directly contributed to tissue engineering through the development of engineered products for treating burns and severe tissue injuries and the development of engineered blood vessels.  Furthermore, the application of his theories of biomechanics to orthopedic devices has significantly improved the functional management of soft tissue injuries such as ankle sprains.  New research and applications built on Fung's theories will continue for many years to come. 

 

 

The Bernard M. Gordon Prize

 

The masters of science program in engineering management at the Gordon Institute of Tufts University is specifically designed to produce engineering leaders.  This unique program for practicing engineers with industrial experience emphasizes project management skills, product innovation and development, communication, and team leadership.  In addition, the program includes courses on relevant advanced technical topics and the human factors that influence relationships with colleagues, employees, and business management personnel. 

 

The Tufts engineering management program combines interdisciplinary, modular classes and experience-based learning.  Students move in teams through the curriculum modules, consistent with the dynamics of an industrial environment and providing first-hand understanding of each others’ capabilities, limitations, knowledge, and skills.  The program heavily emphasizes practical, real-world projects.  All students complete individual projects at their workplace, such as the design and manufacture of high-fidelity audio speakers or the development of a gas turbine engine. Teams of students must also complete a consulting project known as the practicum.  Practicums have been held with pharmaceutical, biotech, industrial, and consumer electronic companies, among others.  

 

Conceived and funded by Bernard M. Gordon, the Gordon Institute was established with the efforts of Harold S. Goldberg, Jerome E. Levy, and Arthur W. Winston.  Its first class graduated in 1987.  Goldberg shepherded the concept through the evaluation and acceptance phases and obtained a charter.  Goldberg and Levy led the development of the curriculum and recruited faculty; Goldberg was instrumental in the development of engineering project methodology courses.  Winston, current director of the Gordon Institute, worked with Goldberg and Levy to define the mission, curriculum, and policies of the school, and to prepare it for accreditation.  He was also responsible for developing and teaching advanced technological methodology for product development.  

 

Winston led the transition to joining with Tufts University in 1992 and the program's concurrent transformation from a one-year, full-time program to a two-year program with Friday and Saturday classes.  This change made the program more attractive to working engineering professionals and to organizations that might sponsor students.  Since 1992, enrollment has increased sixfold, and most of its students are attaining their goals in engineering management.

 

 

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The Draper Prize was established in 1988 at the request of the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory Inc., Cambridge, Mass., to honor the memory of "Doc" Draper, the "father of inertial navigation," and to increase public understanding of the contributions of engineering and technology. The prize is awarded annually.

 

The Russ Prize was established in 1999 at the request of Ohio University to honor alumnus and esteemed engineer Fritz Russ and his wife, Dolores.  Their multimillion dollar endowment for the prize promotes engineering education and recognizes outstanding achievement in a critically important engineering discipline that contributes to the advancement of the human condition.  The prize is awarded every two years.

 

The Gordon Prize was established in 2001 as a biennial prize recognizing new modalities and experiments in education that develop effective engineering leaders.  Recognizing the potential to spur a revolution in engineering education, NAE announced in 2003 that the prize would be awarded annually.

 

The National Academy of Engineering is an independent, nonprofit institution.  Its members consist of the nation's premier engineers, who are elected by their peers for seminal contributions to engineering.  The academy provides leadership and guidance to government on the application of engineering resources to social, economic, and security problems.  Established in 1964, NAE operates under the congressional charter granted to the National Academy of Sciences in 1863.

 

For additional information about any of the prizes, contact Deborah Young, NAE awards administrator, at 202-334-1266 or <dyoung@nae.edu>, or Randy Atkins, NAE senior media relations officer at 202-334-1508 or <atkins@nae.edu>.  Visit the NAE awards site at http://www.nae.edu/awards.

 

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