On February 09, 2022, the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) has elected 111 new members and 22 international members. This brings the total U.S. membership to 2,388 and the number of international members to 310. Election to the National Academy of Engineering is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer.

Jian Cao, an alumna from Class 1989 of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, now Cardiss Collins Professor in Northwestern University, was elected for pioneering a flexible sheet forming system and for leadership in manufacturing.

In 1989, Prof. Jian Cao received her bachelor degree of Materials Science and Engineering & Automatic Control in Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Later on, she went to the U.S. for further study and then obtained her master degree (1992) and Ph.D. (1995) of mechanical engineering in Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Then, since 1995, Prof. Cao began her career as a scholar and researcher in Northwestern University.

At present, Prof. Cao is Cardiss Collins Professor of Mechanical Engineering and (by courtesy) Civil and Environmental Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering. She is also the first Director of Northwestern Initiative for Manufacturing Science and Innovation (NIMSI). During 2012-2021, she was designated as the Associate Vice President for Research. Meanwhile, she is a fellow in American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) and The International Academy for Production Engineering (CIRP). Now she is also the editor-in-chief of Journal of Materials Processing Technology. Prof. Cao has served as President of North American Manufacturing Research Institute of SME and Chair of ASME Manufacturing Engineering Division.


Significant Recognition of Prof. Cao includes:

ASME Milton C. Shaw Manufacturing Research Medal – to recognize significant fundamental contributions to the science and technology of manufacturing processes, 2020

SME Gold Medal, to recognize outstanding service to the manufacturing engineering profession in technical communications through published literature, technical writings or lectures, 2020

The Blackall Machine Tool and Gage Award, ASME, 2012&2018

Charles Russ Richards Memorial Award, ASME and Pi Tau Sigma – to recognize outstanding achievement by an individual who graduated in mechanical engineering more than 20 years ago

Frederick W. Taylor Research Medal, Society of Manufacturing Engineers

Dedicated Service Award (DSA), ASME, 2011


Prof. Cao’s major research interests include innovative manufacturing processes and systems, particularly in the areas of deformation-based processes and laser processes. Her work has made fundamental contributions to the characterization of the effects of material structure on forming behavior of metals and woven composites. Her research has integrated analytical and numerical simulation methods, control and sensors, design methodologies to advance manufacturing processes. Prof. Cao’s research group has designed unique manufacturing equipment for microforming, dieless sheet forming, and additive manufacturing. Current research has direct impacts on energy-efficient manufacturing, surface engineering, and distributed manufacturing. Prof. Cao has published over 300 technical articles, including more than 200 journal articles, 10 book chapters, and 15 patents. She has given over 150 invited talks.

Author: School of Materials Science and Engineering

Source: School of Materials Science and Engineering, Alumni Association

Translated by Ma Jianing