UMC Links

Two U Faculty Get Big Engineering Honor

Feb. 9, 2007 — Two University of Utah faculty members have been elected to the prestigious National Academy of Engineering, the group announced Friday.

The two researchers are Anil Virkar, professor and chair of materials science and engineering, and William A. Hustrulid, professor emeritus of mining engineering and now a consultant at Hustrulid Mining Services in Bonita Springs, Fla.

The honors make Virkar and Hustrulid at least the 33rd and 34th present or former University of Utah researchers to have been elected to membership in one or more of the three groups under the umbrella organization known as the National Academies: the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine.

“We’re thrilled; it is completely deserved,” said David Pershing, the University of Utah’s senior vice president for academic affairs. “On a per capita basis, this [34 National Academies members affiliated with the University of Utah] is an amazing number for a state the size of Utah.”

Virkar and Hustrulid were among 64 members and nine foreign associates newly elected to the National Academy of Engineering, academy President William A. Wulf announced Friday.

Election to the National Academy of Engineering is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. The academy says membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to “engineering research, practice or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature,” and to the “pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing-implementing innovative approaches to engineering education.”

The academy cited Virkar “for contributions to the development of high-temperature ionic and electronic materials for fuel cells and batteries.” Virkar said he focuses on high-temperature batteries and on developing fuel cells for power generation and automobiles.

“I’m very happy and surprised,” Virkar said of his new honor. “‘I’m very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work at the university for the last three decades and to have had many, many good students.”

Virkar’s department is part of the university’s College of Engineering. He also is co-founder and a vice president of Materials and Systems Research, Inc. in Salt Lake City.

Hustrulid was cited “for contributions to the theory and practice of geomechanics in the design of safe and efficient underground mining systems.” Hustrulid retired to Florida in June 2005 to be near his wife’s aging parents, but retains his university affiliation in the College of Mines and Earth Sciences.

“I had absolutely no idea that this was in the works,” Hustrulid said from Florida. “My feet aren’t on the ground.”

Hustrulid says that as a consultant, he now does a lot of work for Codelco, Chile’s national copper company and the biggest copper producer in world. He wrote two books used worldwide: “Open Pit Mine Planning and Design” and “Blasting Principles for Open Pit Mining.”

University of Utah Faculty in the National Academies

Below are lists of other present or former University of Utah faculty elected to one or more of the National Academies. Note that some were elected before or after their tenure at the university:

  • National Academy of Sciences: Anthropologist James O’Connell; geneticist Mario Capecchi; chemist Peter Stang, dean of the U’s College of Science; geologist-geochemist Thure Cerling; anthropologist Henry Harpending; anthropologist Kristen Hawkes; late anthropologist Jesse D. Jennings; chemist Cheves Walling; biochemist Sidney Velick; biologist John R. Roth; chemist Josef Michl; geneticist Ray White; late anthropologist Julian Steward; anthropologist Jeremy Sabloff; late chemist Henry Eyring and; late pharmacologist Louis Goodman.

  • National Academy of Engineering: the late R. Peter King; Adel Sarofim; Sun Wang Kim; Gerald Stringfellow; Donald Dahlstrom; the late George Hill; Jan D. Miller; Milton E. Wadsworth; the late Thomas G. Stockham; John Herbst; Stephen C. Jacobsen; and Willem J. Kolff.

  • Institute of Medicine: Jacobsen and Kim (both also are members of the National Academy of Engineering), biologist Baldomero “Toto” Olivera, obstetrician-gynecologist Eli Adashi and medical informatics professors Homer R. Warner and Paul D. Clayton.

A National Academy of Engineering news release about the new academy members is available at