When Carl Koch got word that he’d received a box from Washington, D.C., he knew what it was: most likely, a set of documents to review for a federal agency.
When he opened the box, however, the Kobe Steel Distinguished Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering found something else altogether: a letter announcing his election to the National Academy of Engineering.
“It’s the most prestigious honor that any engineer or any person in engineering could receive,” Koch said, adding that he was “very fortunate” to be elected. “It’s very humbling.”
An NC State professor since 1983, Koch has spent 50 years in the engineering field. He is best-known for his achievements in research on amorphous and nanostructured materials. In 1983, he became the first researcher to create an amorphous metallic structure — which differs from a normal metal because of its disordered atomic makeup — from two separate elements through a process known as mechanical alloying.
Koch’s recent research has turned to creating nanocrystalline materials that have special mechanical and magnetic properties. In 2008, his research group produced an iron composed of tiny crystals that is far stronger than traditional iron. The new substance has a wide variety of potential applications, such as engine components that are exposed to high stress and temperatures.
“Dr. Koch’s numerous honors during his impressive career are a testament to his dedication to education and the field of engineering,” said Chancellor Randy Woodson. “It is only fitting that he’s been elected to the National Academy of Science. This is another great example of the world-class faculty at NC State. “
Koch is a Fellow of numerous professional societies, including the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society, which limits membership to 100 living Fellows. At NC State he has been recognized with the Alexander Quarles Holladay Medal for Excellence, the university’s top faculty honor; the NC State Alumni Association Outstanding Research Award; and the R.J. Reynolds Award for Excellence in Teaching, Research and Extension.
Koch’s national academy election is the fourth for an NC State professor in the last four years. The university ranks in the top 30 among public universities with 21 National Academy members, including 10 currently on faculty.
NC State has made significant investments recently in developing its world-class faculty. In 2010 Woodson launched the Chancellor’s Innovation Fund, which helps impactful research reach the the marketplace more quickly. Funded projects include a salmonella vaccine, smart bandages capable of administering medicine and stronger security measures for cloud computing.
The university is also hiring 38 new faculty members in 12 fields addressing significant global issues: genetic engineering, bioinformatics, forensic sciences, personalized medicine and more.