Mechanical Engineering Professor to be Inducted into the National Academy of Engineers

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Professor Ali Mosleh

Recently, Professor Ali Mosleh was elected into the National Academy of Engineers (NAE) by members of the Academy. Mosleh was recognized for contributions to the development of Bayesian methods and computational tools in probabilistic risk assessment and reliability engineering. He will join seven other Department of Mechanical Engineering affiliates to hold such an honor. The induction ceremony will take place during the NAE annual meeting in October.

The NAE is composed of approximately 2500 members who have made outstanding contributions to “engineering research, practice, or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature.” This prestigious organization is often called upon by the government to develop professional opinions and solutions to major engineering problems. Recently, the NAE has identified 14 “Grand Engineering Challenges” that remain to be addressed in the 21st Century. Such challenges include: making solar energy more economical, reverse-engineering the brain, and providing energy from fusion.

The research that earned Mosleh his place in the NAE focused on the development of Bayesian methods and on system reliability. He states, “Most of the [everyday] applications of my work have been in developing safer, more reliable systems, ranging from very complex ones, such as the Space Shuttle and nuclear power plants, to medical systems, automobiles, and other consumer products.” Additionally, Mosleh’s research will be applied in the near future to the U.S. commercial flight industry by improving the effectiveness of Federal Aviation Administration inspections.

ME Department Chair, Dr. Avram Bar-Cohen, commented, “Professor Mosleh’s induction into the NAE is not only a tribute to his exceptional qualities and impact on the engineering community, but also serves as an important milestone for the Department’s pursuit of academic excellence and an acknowledged place among the nation’s greatest Mechanical Engineering Departments.”

Mosleh is the Nicole J. Kim Professor of Engineering, and Director of the Center for Risk and Reliability at the University of Maryland. He also serves on several national and international advisory and oversight committees including the U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board to which he was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2004. Mosleh is a Fellow of the Society for Risk Analysis, recipient of many scientific achievement awards, and a consultant to numerous national and international organizations. Mosleh received his Ph.D. in Nuclear Science and Engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1981.

His contributions to the theory and practice of probabilistic risk assessment (PRA) and reliability engineering include seminal work on Bayesian methods for inference with uncertain evidence; analysis of data and expert judgment; treatment of model uncertainty; risk and reliability of complex hybrid systems; advanced simulation-based PRA; cognitive models for human reliability analysis; models for assessing influence of organizational factors on system safety; and several reliability methodologies. Dr. Mosleh also developed the Accident Precursor Analysis methodology and many of the methods currently used for the treatment of common cause failures in highly reliable systems.

Dr. Mosleh’s methods for common cause failure analysis and various guidebooks are effectively the international standards followed by the nuclear, chemical, and aerospace industries. His precursor methodology has formed the basis of major proactive safety monitoring programs by several US government agencies such as Nuclear Regulatory Commission, NASA, Federal Aviation Administration, and international organizations such as European Air Traffic Control and the International Atomic Energy Agency. The theoretical basis and mathematical formalisms that he has developed for Bayesian inference with uncertain evidence have been used in developing databases for virtually all nuclear power plant safety studies, all manned space missions, and are at the core of several public and commercial reliability analysis tools used by major industries. Dr. Mosleh’s Hybrid Causal Logic methodology for risk assessment of socio-technical systems has been adopted by the FAA as the core of its new risk-based regulatory approach. On these topics Professor Mosleh holds several patents, and has published over 300 technical papers, edited volumes, and guidebooks. In addition, teams led by Dr. Mosleh have designed and developed more than ten major risk and reliability analysis software currently used by various government agencies and private sector throughout the world.

Published April 5, 2010