Robert Walters, professor and department head of aerospace and ocean engineering, has agreed to become interim associate vice president of research at Virginia Tech.

He has been at Virginia Tech since 1985 and department head since 2002.

The Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) is filling two leadership positions within the office on an interim basis. The combined positions are responsible for research development and interdisciplinary programs, as well as research administration and support. The term of each position is anticipated to be one to two years, or until a permanent full-time appointment is made. The time commitment is flexible but is anticipated to be 50 to 75 percent or more.

“These are important positions on the team that supports the faculty as it furthers the university's discovery and scholarly missions,” said vice president for research Brad Fenwick.

The associate and assistant vice presidents are also involved in planning and policy.

Walters earned his bachelor’s and master’s degress, as well as his Ph.D. from North Carolina State University. Upon completion of his Ph.D. he worked at the NASA Langley Research Center as a Research Associate of the National Research Council.

Walters’ primary research area has been computational fluid dynamics with a focus on algorithm research. His contributions to the literature include: hypersonic flow, algorithm research for Navier-Stokes simulations, characteristic–based methods, unstructured grid and flow solution algorithms, multi-zone methods, and preconditioning techniques among other topics. He has received an IBM Supercomputing Award, a NASA Certificate of Recognition, and a NASA Group Achievement Award among others.

For the past five years, Walters has been working on stochastic fluid mechanics with an emphasis on probabilistic-based, spectral polynomial chaos techniques. It is expected that he will maintain his scholarly and instructional activities at appropriate levels.

In 1988, Walters founded AeroSoft Inc., a company that specializes in computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software development and applications. Located at the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, the company supports the computational simulation needs of a wide range of government, industry, and academic customers using state-of-the-art CFD software. Ten years after the formation of AeroSoft, Walters sold the company to employees.

He is the current chairman of the Aerospace Department Chairs Association and is an Associate Fellow of AIAA. He has also has served as Associate Editor of the AIAA Journal and has served on numerous other professional society committees.

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