White Chosen for Drucker Eminent Faculty Award


Susan Mumm, Media Specialist

Aerospace Engineering at Illinois Prof. Scott R. White
Aerospace Engineering at Illinois Prof. Scott R. White
Scott White
Prof. Scott R. White, whose groundbreaking research over the past 15 years has been the genesis for work in self-healing materials, is the 2016 winner of the College of Engineering at Illinois Tau Beta Pi Daniel C. Drucker Eminent Faculty Award.

The Drucker Award is one of the most prestigious the College has to honor its faculty.

“Faculty members usually achieve the recognition of their peers for contributing to a given technical field, but very few can claim to have achieved international recognition for creating an entire field of research,” Aerospace Engineering at Illinois Department Head Philippe Geubelle wrote in nominating White. “For his seminal and pioneering work in the area of autonomic multifunctional materials and of self-healing materials in particular, Scott can legitimately claim to be one of this very selective group.”

White, a Willett Professor in the College of Engineering and Director of the recently created Center of Excellence in Self-healing, Regeneration, and Structural Remodeling at Illinois, first gained worldwide recognition with the 2001 paper in Nature that proposed the concept of microcapsule-based self-healing polymeric composites.

Since that time, the research has grown extensively from the initial work on self-healing materials, to microvascular systems, to regenerating materials and, most recently, to materials that can self-destruct, reducing electronic waste and boosting sustainability in device manufacturing. White’s work on fire prevention in lithium ion (Li-ion) laptop batteries contributed significantly to the Department of Energy’s Frontier Research Center (EFRC). He also helped demonstrated a new class of organic materials called mechanophores, whose reactive behavior is driven by mechanical force. Most recently he and his colleagues have developed a new color-changing damage indication system that automatically highlights damage in materials.

White’s development of self-healing polymers was a Tech Museum of Innovation Award Finalist – Technology Benefiting Humanity in 2001 and was selected for a Scientific American 50 for research demonstrating outstanding technological leadership in 2007. His development of mechanochemical transduction in polymeric materials was named in Popular Mechanics’ 10 Tech Concepts You Need to Know for 2011.

White has also made important contributions in the field of multifunctional composite materials, in which multifunctionality is achieved through the inclusion of shape memory alloys and magnetostrictive materials.

White currently holds approximately 40 patents, primarily in the field of self-healing polymers and composites. He is a founding partner of CU Aerospace, LLC, a Champaign-based research and development company focusing on technology transition within the aerospace industry. He also founded Autonomic Materials Incorporated (AMI), a start-up company that develops self-healing coatings for applications within the $18B coatings industry from architectural materials to oil production and distribution to marine and defense systems.

On the teaching side, White has introduced graduate-level composites courses and is the driving force behind the educational composite manufacturing laboratory being built in the basement of Talbot Laboratory. He has advised countless undergraduate research projects and is an outstanding mentor of graduate students, having been recognized in 2014 with the Campus Award for Excellence in Graduate Advising.

White has built his entire academic career at Illinois, having started here in 1990 after earning his PhD in engineering mechanics from The Pennsylvania State University.