Charles M. Vest Receives 2011 Robert Fletcher Award
June 3, 2011
CONTACT: Catharine Lamm
The Robert Fletcher Award is given annually to a graduate or friend of Thayer School in recognition of distinguished achievement and service in the highest tradition of the School. The award is named in honor of Robert Fletcher, who was appointed by Sylvanus Thayer as the School's first professor of engineering and its first director (1871–1918). The Dean of Thayer School chooses each year's award recipient who then traditionally delivers Thayer School's Investiture speech.
The 2011 Robert Fletcher Award recipient is Charles Vest, president of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and president emeritus of MIT. Vest served as president of MIT from 1990 to 2004 before taking the top position at the NAE in 2007.
Dr. Vest has provided leadership and expertise in engineering throughout a long and distinguished career. He earned his B.S. in mechanical engineering from West Virginia University (1963) and his M.S.E. (1964) and Ph.D. (1967) in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan, where he joined the faculty in 1968. He taught heat transfer, thermodynamics, and fluid mechanics and conducted research in heat transfer and engineering applications of laser optics and holography. He became associate dean of engineering in 1981, dean of engineering in 1986, and provost and vice president for academic affairs in 1989. As president of MIT he built partnerships among academia, government, and industry and advocated for open global scientific communication and sharing of intellectual resources. In 2007 he was elected to a six-year term as president of NAE.
Dr. Vest has served as a director of DuPont and IBM and as vice chair of the U.S. Council on Competitiveness. He was a member of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology during the Clinton and Bush administrations, the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, the Secretary of Education's Commission on the Future of Higher Education, the Secretary of State's Advisory Committee on Transformational Diplomacy, and the Rice-Chertoff Secure Borders and Open Doors Advisory Committee. He serves on the boards of several non-profit organizations and foundations devoted to education, science, and technology.
The author of a book on holographic interferometry and two books on higher education, Dr. Vest was awarded the 2006 National Medal of Technology and Innovation by President Bush. The National Science Board recently honored him with its 2011 Vannevar Bush Award for his distinguished public service leadership in science and technology.