Romesh C. Batra, Virginia Tech professor of engineering science and mechanics, is a 2011 recipient of the Virginia Outstanding Scientist Award. He will be honored at an awards reception today with the Virginia General Assembly and sponsored by the Science Museum of Virginia.

Working with his students, Batra has assisted in the development of numerous new designs and products. For example, he has led teams in the improved design of different types of armors such as bullet proof vests, tank walls, and shields to protect vehicles against an improvised explosive device generated blast. He has also characterized carbon nanotubes for designing lighter and more efficient fuel planes that he believes will surpass the recent unveiling of Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

He has also studied micro-electro-mechanical systems that open up air bags in a car crash upon impact and smart materials that monitor their own vibrations and make car rides quieter and smoother.

Batra, who holds Virginia Tech’s Clifton C. Garvin Professorship, is world renowned for his work on the strength of materials. His efforts have earned him numerous awards including the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Award in 1992 for his pioneering work in developing an understanding of the failure of materials due to extreme loads.

Other research awards include: the 2009 Engineering Science Medal from the Society of Engineering Science (SES) for his singular work on material failure; the 2009 Lee Hsun Research Award from the Chinese Academy of Sciences for his work on understanding material behavior under explosive loads; and the 2000 Eric Reissner Medal from the International Congress of Computational and Engineering Society for his fundamental work in simulating the penetration of a missile into a tank wall.

His teaching prowess has also been recognized.  In 2010, he received the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award.

For the past 36 years, including his most recent 16 years at Virginia Tech, Batra has challenged students in his classroom to analyze real world problems. Based on students’ evaluation of instructors’ teaching, he is always on Virginia Tech’s dean’s list of excellent teachers.

“My classroom philosophy in sharing knowledge with students has been to treat them as colleagues, stress fundamentals, and challenge them to apply basic concepts to real-world problems,” Batra said.

“If we are asked to choose the three most distinguished researchers in the area of engineering mechanics who have made the most impact in the field during the past two decades, Dr. Batra, in my opinion, will make this list. His research shows creativity, relevance, and diversity,” said Inderjit Chopra, the University of Maryland’s Alfred Gresso Professor.