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Jian CaoCardiss Collins Professor of Mechanical EngineeringAssociate Vice President for ResearchDirector of Northwestern Initiative for Manufacturing Science and Innovation (NIMSI)


In addition to serving as a professor of mechanical engineering and professor (by courtesy) of civil and environmental engineering, Jian Cao has been active on both national and international stages.

She served as the program director of the Materials Processing and Manufacturing (MPM) program at the National Science Foundation (NSF) from 2003 to 2005. Under her leadership, the World Technology Evaluation Study on Micromanufacturing was conducted and co-sponsored by four government agencies and more than 10 NSF programs.

Cao co-initiated the joint-funding between NSF and the Department of Energy (DOE) for her MPM program, which has been continuing strongly after her departure. By collaborating with other programs, she was able to increase the funding of her program by over 20 percent. She is one of the main driving forces behind the well-received NSF workshops on CAREER development.

Cao is also active in professional societies, having served as president of the North American Manufacturing Research Institute of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and chair of the ASME Manufacturing Engineering Division.

Currently, she is the secretary of the Scientific and Technical Committee on Forming of International Academy of Production Engineering (CIRP).


PhD, Mechanical Engineering, MIT, Cambridge, MA

MS, Mechanical Engineering, MIT, Cambridge, MA

BS, Materials Science and Engineering & Automatic Control, Shanghai JiaoTong University, Shanghai, China

Research Interests

Mechanics; instability analysis of deformation processes; surface engineering; distributed cloud manufacturing

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