Alexander Smits will become chair of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering as of July 1, returning to the position he held from 1998 to 2004.
Smits has been a faculty member in the department since he started as an assistant professor in 1981, making enormous contributions to both teaching and research over the last 25 years. He is a highly regarded researcher in fluid dynamics and its applications in high-speed flow and turbulence. He also is a four-time winner of the Princeton Engineering Council Award for Excellence in Teaching.
As chair, Smits led the department through an important period of growth, strengthening its faculty and curriculum. Returning as chair, he succeeds Philip Holmes who served as interim chair following the departure of David Srolovitz in 2006.