National Academy of Engineering President to Receive Medal

Jun 10, 2008

By UCLA Samueli Newsroom

Charles M. Vest to Receive the UCLA Medal at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, June 14

Charles M. Vest, president of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), vice chair of the National Research Council, the principle operating arm of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering, and President Emeritus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), will receive the UCLA Medal, the university’s highest honor, at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science commencement ceremony at 12:30 p.m., Saturday, June 14, at Pauley Pavilion on the UCLA campus. The UCLA Medal will be presented by Chancellor Gene Block. Vest will also deliver the keynote address.

The Medal was established in 1979 as a highlight of UCLA’s “Golden Year” celebration, which marked the 50th anniversary of the campus. Every year since, the Medal has been awarded at commencement ceremonies, academic convocations, and other special events to pay tribute to national and international leaders in government, education, science, industry, and the arts.

Past recipients include former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton; former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres; former Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto; former secretary-general of the United Nations Kofi Annan; architects I.M. Pei and Frank Gehry; actors Laurence Olivier and Anthony Hopkins; composers Henry Mancini and Quincy Jones and business and civic leaders Eli and Edythe Broad.

Charles M. Vest served as President of MIT from 1990 – 2004 and during his 14-year tenure as MIT’s president, he added a strong international dimension to the school’s education and research programs, strengthened relations with industry, increased racial and cultural diversity, and built public understanding and support for higher education and research.

Vest has also worked to bring issues concerning education and research to broader public attention and to strengthen national policy on science, engineering and education. In 1993 and 1994, he chaired the President’s Advisory Committee on the Redesign of the Space Station and has been a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology since 1994.

From 2002 to 2003, Vest chaired the U.S. Department of Energy Task Force on the Future of the Department of Energy’s Science Programs and for eight years Vest was vice chair of the Council on Competitiveness. He is also a past chair of the Association of American Universities.

Vest recently completed service as a member of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction and of the U.S. Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education. He now serves on the Department of State Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Transformational Diplomacy and the Rice-Chertoff Secure Borders, Open Doors Advisory Board Subcommittee.

During his early career in mechanical engineering, Vest’s research focused on thermal sciences and the engineering applications of lasers and coherent optics. He is the author of numerous papers and a book titled, Holographic Interferometry. He is also the author of two books on higher education and research policy, “Pursuing the Endless Frontier: Essays on MIT and the Role of the Research University,” and “The American Research University from World War II to World Wide Web.”

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