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Wei Chen, Ph.D. 


Dr. Wei Chen is the Wilson-Cook Chair Professor in Engineering Design at Northwestern University and a faculty in Department of Mechanical Engineering. As the Director of the Integrated DEsign Automation Laboratory (IDEAL), her current research involves issues such as simulation-based design under uncertainty; model validation and uncertainty quantification; data science in design and advanced manufacturing; stochastic multiscale analysis and materials design; design of metamaterials; multidisciplinary design optimization; consumer choice modeling and decision-based design. She is the co-founder and director of the interdisciplinary doctoral cluster in Predictive Science and Engineering Design (PS&ED), and serves as the co-director for the Design Cluster affiliated with the Segal Design Institute at Northwestern. Dr. Chen received her Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1995 and her BS from Shanghai Jiao Tong University (China) in 1988. She became a Fellow of American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) in 2009 and an Associate Fellow of American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) in 2003.

Dr. Chen has published over 275 refereed publications, including four (4) bookseight (8) book chapters, 166 journal papers, 100 refereed conference proceedings, and two (2) patents. Her seminal contributions to the field of engineering design have advanced both theoretical development and practical applications of simulation-based design under uncertainty, promoting the rigorous use of statistical analysis (data science) and probabilistic theory in engineering design. She has made extensive contributions furthering the scholarship and use of robust design methods in engineering practice to improve product quality and robustness of engineering decisions. Her research team has developed new algorithmic approaches that significantly reduce the computational complexity of simulation-based design in practical problems that are characterized by expensive physics-based simulations, high dimensionality, and various sources of uncertainty. In recent years, she has established close collaborations with scholars from a number of disciplines, such as mechanics, materials, manufacturing, statistics, marketing research, social science, decision analysis, and transportation engineering to address the challenging interdisciplinary topics in engineering design.

Dr. Chen’s research methods have been integrated into commercial software for industry users. Her methods for design under uncertainty have been integrated into iSIGHT®, the leading multidisciplinary design optimization software from Dassault Systemes; and Hyperworks®, the most widely used structural optimization software developed by Altair Engineering.  She has worked with a wide range of industries such as Pratt & Whitney, Ford Motor Company, Toyota, General Motors, Alcoa, Motorola, J.D. Power & Associates, Goodyear Tire Company, Siemens, and Dow Chemicals. Her methods have been used in the design of advanced aircraft propulsion system design, automotive powertrain system design, vehicle engine design, vehicle occupant package design, sustainability analytics, safety optimization, multidisciplinary design of microelectronics systems and aircraft systems, optimization of forming processes, polymer nanocomposite design, lightweight carbon composite materials design, and design of thin film solar cells. 

Dr. Chen’s research achievements have been recognized by multiple best paper awards from the ASME Design Automation Conference (1998, 2012, 2014, and 2016), the Journal of Mechanical Design Editors’ Choice Award (2014), the ASME Design Automation Award (2015) – the highest level achievement award in the field of design automation, National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Award (1996), Pi Tau Sigma Gold Medal Achievement Award (1998), the Intelligent Optimal Design Prize (2005), the SAE Ralph R. Teetor Educator Award (2006), and the Sigma Xi Doctoral Dissertation Award (1996). She is the recipient of 2017 Ver Steeg Faculty Award at Northwestern for her excellence in improving diversity of graduate student body and mentoring graduate students to achieve their full potentials. Dr. Wei Chen is a newly elected Member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) in 2019.

Dr. Chen is currently serving as the Editor-in-Chief of the ASME Journal of Mechanical Design and a member of the executive committee of International Society of Structural and Multidisciplinary Design (ISSMO). She served as Chair and a member on the ASME Design Engineering Division (DED) Executive Committee (2009-2015) and was an elected Advisory Board member of the Design Society (2007-2013). She is an Associate Editor of Design Science, a review editor of Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization, and served two terms of Associate Editor of the ASME Journal of Mechanical Design (2003-2006; 2010-2013). In addition, she served as an Associate Editor of SIAM/ASA Journal on Uncertainty Quantification (JUQ) (2014-2017), an Associate Editor of Engineering Optimization (2007-2009), and the Department Editor for the IIE Transactions (2015-2017).


Dr. Chen has taught courses in both Mechanical Engineering & Industrial Engineering. She has taught Fundamentals of Mechanical systems, Engineering Optimization, Computer Analysis in Engineering, Senior Capstone Design, Operations Research, and Advanced Computational & Statistical Methods for Product and Process Design.

Courses taught at Northwestern University
ME 240: Introduction to Design & Manufacturing
ME 398: Senior Engineering Design
ME 341: Computational Methods for Engineering Design
ME441: Engineering Optimization for Product Design & Manufacturing
ME495: Advanced Computational & Statistical Methods for Engineering Design
ME513: Professional Essentials
• PSED510: Predictive Science and Engineering Design Cluster Seminar