Jeff Baur invested as Founder Professor in Aerospace Engineering


Debra Levey Larson

Jeff Baur with Nancy Sottos
Jeffrey Baur at the investiture with colleague Nancy Sottos, professor and head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Aerospace engineering Professor Jeffrey Baur was named as a Founder Professor in Aerospace Engineering at a ceremony this spring.

Baur received his bachelor’s degree in physics from Illinois Wesleyan University, then completed his Bachelor of Science degree in materials science and engineering at the University of Cincinnati. He earned his doctorate in the same field in 1997 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

His interest in autonomous material systems began when he was a lab manager and research engineer at MIT in a newly created Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, where he developed fabrics with micro-vascular systems. Baur worked over 25 years in the Air Force Research Labs, leading research, teams, technical programs, and international agreements in aerospace-related research, including multifunctional and adaptive (shape-changing) composites.

He has taught classes on polymers, physics, and chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Dayton, and the University of Cincinnati.

In his new position at Illinois, he works on the design, additive manufacturing, and characterization of composite materials for multifunctional and adaptive structures in the new composite processing and additive manufacturing lab in Talbot Laboratory and with the Autonomous Materials Systems Group at the Beckman Institute.

In nominating Baur for the professorship, AE Professor Greg Elliott said, “Over the past 20 plus years, Jeff has established himself as a leader at the Air Force Research Lab, academia, and industry. He is an internationally recognized expert in the fields of composites and additive manufacturing of novel multifunctional materials at the cutting-edge of aerospace materials research, including structurally integrated sensor technology, adaptive structures, and integrated structural protection against high energy radiation. He has served in several technical leadership positions, including a team of 43 students, scientists, and engineers.

“It is quite impressive that even though Dr. Baur does not have an academic career path, and therefore may not be encouraged as part of his positions to have a portfolio that would be standard for a typical full professor evaluation, he still is able to demonstrate his excellence and leadership in research, teaching and service. For example, in the area of research funding, one recent project on which he PI, holds competitive external grants totaling over $2.4 million to support his research group activities. Since 2012, he received 13 grants or contracts from leading agencies with $9.8 million going to his research collaborators, on grants for which he is the PI.”

Just before leaving the Air Force, Baur received the Exemplary Civilian Service Award for outstanding efforts that led to the investment of $90 million in the area of additive, multifunctional, and low-cost composite materials and structures.

With 75 peer-reviewed journal articles in outstanding quality journals, Elliott said his publication record is far stronger than what is usually associated with someone serving in a Department of Defense research lab and is in fact on par with some of the best faculty from academia who are at the same stage in their careers.

Founder Professorships are made possible by The Grainger Engineering Breakthroughs Initiative, the result of a $100 million investment in The Grainger College of Engineering by The Grainger Foundation. This initiative supports multi and inter-disciplinary study and provides a springboard for groundbreaking projects by allowing the college to invest in strategic priorities including, faculty chairs and named professorships, undergraduate scholarships, facilities and infrastructure, and research support. Founder Professorships have helped the college to recruit and retain world-class faculty and contribute to our elite science and engineering program.