They’ve already been recognized as elite engineers in their own country. Now two West Virginia University graduates have earned accolades from a world away.

Charles Vest, the president of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, and Henry Yang, Chancellor of the University of California, Santa Barbara, were recently elected to the Chinese Academy of Engineering, an organization that was established in 1994 to recognize engineers who have made significant and creative achievements in their fields.

Vest and Yang join three other Americans and a Brit in this year’s class of foreign inductees. That brings the Chinese academy’s total foreign membership to just 36.

“Charles Vest and Henry Yang are among our most accomplished alumni and most deserving of this honor,” said Gene Cilento, Glen Hiner dean of the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. “We are proud to number them among our graduates and colleagues.”

Vest, a former president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, grew up in Morgantown and earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from WVU in 1963.

He is considered an expert on holography (the science that created holograms), authoring more than 50 papers and a book on the subject. He’s served on numerous academic boards, commissions and associations, including the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges and the Department of Energy/Nuclear Energy Robotics Programs.

Vest was also a charter member of the Academy of Distinguished Alumni of Mechanical Engineering at WVU.

Yang, who earned a master’s degree in civil engineering from WVU in 1965, served as a distinguished professor and dean of engineering at Purdue University before moving West to accept the job at UC Santa Barbara. Like Vest, he is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and has served on numerous academic and scientific advisory boards, including those for the Department of Defense and NASA.

Yang specializes in structural engineering and has authored or co-authored more than 170 articles and a textbook.



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