2017 Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education awarded to Dean of Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering


Thu, January 05, 2017

Washington, D.C., January 05, 2017 —

The National Academy of Engineering announced today that the 2017 Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education will be awarded to Julio M. Ottino, dean of the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern University, “for an educational paradigm that merges analytical, rational left-brain skills with creative, expansive right-brain skills to develop engineering leaders.” The $500,000 annual award recognizes new methods and concepts in education aimed at developing engineering leaders.

The Gordon Prize ceremony will be held at Northwestern University on Tuesday, May 30, 2017.

“I am pleased to recognize Julio Ottino for his transformational program at Northwestern University,” said NAE President C. D. Mote, Jr.  “Julio is the personification of a leader who is preparing the next generation of engineers to tackle society’s greatest challenges.”

Julio Ottino led the development of Whole-Brain Engineering at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering. A guiding strategy for the school, Whole-Brain Engineering focuses on integrating the analytical and technical components of engineering with creativity, design, and divergent thinking through programs that span and connect students at both the undergraduate and graduate level.

Under Ottino’s leadership, three areas were leveraged to develop whole-brain engineers: design, entrepreneurship, and leadership and personal development. By augmenting existing programs and developing new initiatives to complement an already strong technical curriculum, the school provides a better student experience, prepares engineers to have a bigger impact and imagine new possibilities, and attracts more students into STEM fields. The school has developed collaborations with other schools and programs on campus, increasing the centrality of engineering within a comprehensive university. Many new courses bring together students from many disciplines, as well as from partnering institutions such as the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Since making Whole-Brain Engineering the cornerstone of Northwestern Engineering’s strategy, the number of women in the school increased by more than 60 percent, and engineering enrollments are at all-time high levels.

In addition to his role as dean, Ottino serves as Distinguished Robert R. McCormick Institute Professor, Walter P. Murphy Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and professor (by courtesy) of mechanical engineering. He previously held positions at the University of Massachusetts Amherst as well as chair and senior appointments at the California Institute of Technology and Stanford University, and has supervised more than 50 Ph.D. theses. He is the founder and former director of the Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems (NICO). Ottino is a member of both the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The Gordon Prize was established in 2001 as a biennial prize acknowledging new modalities and experiments in education that develop effective engineering leaders. Recognizing the potential to spur a revolution in engineering education, NAE announced in 2003 that the prize would be awarded annually.

The mission of the NAE is to advance the well-being of the nation by promoting a vibrant engineering profession and by marshalling the expertise and insights of eminent engineers to provide independent advice to the federal government on matters involving engineering and technology. The NAE is part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, an independent, nonprofit organization chartered by Congress to provide objective analysis and advice to the nation on matters of science, technology, and health.

Randy  Atkins
Contact Randy Atkins
Senior Program Officer for Media/Public Relations
National Academy of Engineering
Deborah M. Young, CAE
Contact Deborah M. Young, CAE
Program Officer, Awards Program
National Academy of Engineering