UofSC engineering pioneer recognized by national academy

Distinguished Professor Michael Sutton has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) for groundbreaking work in mechanical engineering

COLUMBIA, SC – Distinguished Professor Michael Sutton has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) for groundbreaking work in mechanical engineering that’s had a cross-disciplinary impact in both the state of South Carolina and the world.

Sutton was elected Feb. 6 for his creation of digital image correlation technology (DIC) and his co-founding of Correlated Solutions, Incorporated, which spread the DIC technology globally. He is the second faculty member at the University of South Carolina College of Engineering and Computing (CEC) elected to the NAE, and the first faculty member in South Carolina to be elected based solely upon research performed in the state.

The technology has demonstrated uses in a wide array of industries around the world, from assessing the effectiveness of anti-wrinkle cream to determining the shock impact for a military tank from an exploding IED. It is used in manufacturing, biomedicine, aerospace, and military research and development.

“This recognition by the NAE simply tells me that all the decades of hard work at the University of South Carolina created something that was helpful and beneficial,” Sutton says. “Today, the technology is being used not only at South Carolina, but worldwide. It gives you some internal peace knowing that you’ve done something that is going to stand the test of time and has been recognized by others as being a significant contribution.”

As part of National Engineers Week, the state of South Carolina declared Feb. 19 as Professional Engineers Day ¬- a day to honor South Carolina engineers who have enriched the state through their work in construction, education, government, industry and private practice.

Sutton has been a professor in the college’s mechanical engineering department since 1982, and his work in digital image correlation while at the college made him a pioneer in the field. His research advanced the entire field of mechanical engineering, allowing for the measurement of full-field deformations in structures across a wide spectrum of materials. He joins Chemical Engineering Professor John Monnier as the CEC’s second faculty member elected to the NAE.

“Mike has been a superb researcher and teacher, and his contributions continue to have profound impact on the work of many practitioners of experimental mechanics,” says Hossein Haj-Hariri, dean of the College of Engineering and Computing. “We are proud of his election to the NAE, which remains one of the highest honors for an engineer. And, we are particularly proud that Mike’s contributions have come about over a career wholly in our college, and with our students and colleagues, over many years. It is my honor to be his colleague.”

Sutton began working on digital image correlation at South Carolina in 1982, shortly after completing his doctorate in the department of theoretical and applied mechanics at the University of Illinois.

In 1997, through his research at the CEC, he co-founded Correlated Solutions, Incorporated to transfer the technology to industry, government laboratories and academia throughout the world. Since that time, Correlated Solutions has become a leader in digital image correlation and now does business globally, with DIC systems on all continents except Antarctica. Sutton maintains an advisory role at the company today, with his former doctoral students, CEO Hubert Schreier and CFO Stephen McNeil, overseeing day-to-day operations.

Election to the National Academy of Engineering is one of the highest professional distinctions an engineer can receive. The NAE recognizes outstanding contributions in engineering research, practice or education and innovative advancements across traditional and emerging engineering fields, as well as engineering education.

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About University of South Carolina

The University of South Carolina is a globally recognized, high-impact research university committed to a superior student experience and dedicated to innovation in learning, research and community engagement. Founded in 1801, the university offers more than 350 degree programs and is the state’s only top-tier Carnegie Foundation research institution. More than 50,000 students are enrolled at one of 20 locations throughout the state, including the research campus in Columbia. With 56 nationally ranked academic programs including top-ranked programs in international business, the nation’s best honors college and distinguished programs in engineering, law, medicine, public health and the arts, the university is helping to build healthier, more educated communities in South Carolina and around the world.

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