UCLA Engineering 2023 Award Recipients
very year, the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering selects and recognizes outstanding achievements by a number of its alumni, faculty members and students who have excelled in various fields. Below are profiles of the recipients of this year’s Professional Achievement Award and the Rising Professional Achievement Award.
Professional Achievement Award
Alison Brown Ph.D. ’85
Alison Brown is an internationally acclaimed expert in positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) technologies. She is the chair of the board, president and CEO of the NAVSYS Corporation — a Colorado-based company she founded in 1986, just one year after getting her doctoral degree from UCLA. Under Brown’s leadership, NAVSYS has provided high-quality technical products and services in global positioning systems (GPS) hardware design, systems engineering, systems analysis and software design.
For more than three decades, Brown has developed and demonstrated numerous PNT capabilities for both commercial and military systems. Thanks to her deep technical knowledge and innovative approach, Brown has been sought after to serve on multiple advisory boards including three four-year terms on the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, and a decade on the National Defense Industrial Association’s Board of Trustees. In 2022, she was appointed to the U.S. Defense Science Board, which provides independent advice on scientific and technical matters of strategic importance.
Among her many honors, Brown has received the 2016 James S. Cogswell Outstanding Industrial Security Achievement Award from the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency. She is also a Girl Scouts Woman of Distinction, a Master of Foxhounds and founder of the Tri-Lakes and Salida Business Incubators supporting rural economic development.
Brown earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering from Cambridge University in England. With a Draper Fellowship and Dupont Scholarship, she then attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she graduated with a master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics. She went on to pursue a Ph.D. in mechanics, aerospace and nuclear engineering at UCLA, where she published one of the earliest studies on leveraging the power of GPS for PNT applications.
She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a fellow of the Institute of Navigation and an honorary fellow of Sidney Sussex College in Cambridge, England.
Rising Professional Achievement Award
Yu Chen Ph.D. ’14
It has been less than a decade since materials scientist Yu Chen received his doctorate from UCLA, but he has already made several seminal achievements. Chen is an engineering program manager at Apple, where he focuses on developing cutting-edge organic LED (OLED) display technology for consumer products. Since joining the firm in 2019, he has helped deliver six innovative, high-performing products and improved its small-size OLED products.
After getting both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in materials science and engineering from National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan, Chen worked as a research assistant for the university before moving to Los Angeles in 2009 to pursue a doctorate in the same field at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering.
Chen joined materials science and engineering professor Yu Huang’s research group, where he specialized in the understanding and reliably controlling the formation of high quality silicon or germanium compounds at nanoscale. His research findings were of pivotal importance in the continued down scaling of semiconductor devices.
A prolific researcher, Chen has authored or co-authored more than 30 peer-reviewed scientific articles with more than 9,000 citations, including some published in the most prestigious journals in the field. After earning his doctorate in 2014, Chen worked as a process engineer at semiconductor and memory equipment firm Lam Research Corporation in Fremont, California, where he made significant contributions on nanostructure fabrication with plasma etcher to achieve top tier customer products and expanded market share within his first five years of career. For his efforts, the company honored Chen with several awards recognizing his breakthrough achievements.
During his graduate studies at UCLA, Chen received the Young Scientist Award from the Asia-Pacific Conference on Semiconducting Silicides, the Best Presentation Award from Southern California Society for Microscopy & Microanalysis, the first place prize in Materials Research Society’s Science as Art Competition and the Harry M. Showman Prize from UCLA Samueli.