National Academy of Engineering Honors Two at Rensselaer

February 22, 2001

Troy, N.Y. — Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and James M. Tien, professor and chair of decision sciences and engineering systems at Rensselaer, have been elected to membership in the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).

Election to the NAE is one of the highest honors accorded an engineer. Academy membership recognizes those who have made “important contributions to engineering theory and practice, and those who have demonstrated unusual accomplishment in the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology,” said NAE President William A. Wulf.

Jackson was elected for her contributions to industry research, education, and the formation of the International Nuclear Regulators Association. Tien was elected for his contributions to the development and application of systems engineering concepts and methodologies to improve public services and engineering education.

“Rensselaer is extremely proud to be led by a president whose achievements in research, teaching, industry, and government service have been recognized internationally. This latest honor, election to membership in the National Academy of Engineering, again affirms Dr. Jackson’s extensive contributions to scholarship, education, and global cooperation,” said Samuel F. Heffner Jr. ’56, president of the board of trustees.

Rensselaer Provost G. P. “Bud” Peterson praised the Academy’s choice of Tien. “We are extremely pleased at Professor Tien’s election to the National Academy of Engineering. This is well-deserved recognition of the many contributions he has made and continues to make toward engineering and engineering education,” Peterson said.

“I am honored to be among so many distinguished colleagues, including Dr. Tien,” said Jackson. “The prestige of our Institute and its excellence in research and teaching is further demonstrated by the fact that we now have 11 faculty who are members of this esteemed Academy.”

Shirley Ann Jackson:
Jackson, who holds a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from MIT, served as chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission from 1995-1999.

From 1991 to 1995, Jackson was professor of physics at Rutgers University.

For 15 years, from 1976 to 1991, Jackson conducted research in theoretical physics, solid-state and quantum physics, and optical physics at AT&T Bell Laboratories.

She was named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1991 and of the American Physical Society in 1986. She is a member of a number of other professional organizations. Jackson holds 14 honorary doctoral degrees.

She serves as Director of FedEx Corporation, Sealed Air Corporation, UtiliCorp, Newport News Shipbuilding, USX Corporation, Marconi International Fellowship Foundation, and as trustee of the Brookings Institution. She serves on the Executive Committee of the Council on Competitiveness, and on the Council of the Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable.

Earlier this month, Jackson was the first woman to be named Black Engineer of the Year by the publishers of USBE & Information Technology magazine. She was also presented with the George Washington Carver Award on behalf of Associated Black Charities for her achievements in science, education, and government. The award was given at the 15th Annual Black History Makers Award ceremonies.

In addition to many other awards, Jackson was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1998 and into the Women in Technology International Foundation Hall of Fame in June 2000.

James M. Tien
Tien earned his bachelor’s in electrical engineering from Rensselaer and a Ph.D. in electrical and systems engineering from MIT.

Tien joined the Rensselaer faculty in 1977 in the department of electrical, computer, and systems engineering and was acting chair of the department from 1986-1987. In 1988, Tien was the founding chair of the department of decision sciences and engineering systems. He twice served as acting dean of engineering at Rensselaer, from 1992-1994 and from 1998-1999.

Prior to joining the Rensselaer faculty, Tien worked at the Bell Laboratories and the Rand Corporation. He was also a lecturer at MIT.

He is currently chair of the IEEE Publications, Product, and Services Board and a member of both the IEEE Board of Directors and the IEEE Executive Committee. He the Past President of the IEEE Society on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics. He is a fellow of IEEE and a member of INFORMS and IIE. He was recently the recipient of the prestigious IEEE Joseph G. Wohl Outstanding Career Award, the IEEE Educational Activities Board Major Educational Innovation Award, and an IEEE Third Millennium Medal. Tien’s research interests include systems modeling, queuing theory, public policy, decision analysis, information systems, expert systems and computational cybernetics.

Alumnus Also Named to NAE
Another newly elected NAE member, Benjamin F. Montoya, is a 1960 graduate of Rensselaer with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. He is chairman and chief executive officer (retired), and member, board of directors, Public Service Co. of New Mexico, Albuquerque. The Academy honored Montoya for environmental and organizational leadership in both the U.S. Navy and public power sector while maintaining total dedication to societal values.

Photos Available
For print-quality photos of Jackson and Tien, please go to and

Contact: Patricia Azriel
Phone: (518) 276-6531
E-mail: N/A

Back to top