The appointment of Professor Robert C. Armstrong to head the Department of Chemical Engineering, effective June 1, has been announced by Dean of Engineering Robert A. Brown.
Professor Armstrong, who joined MIT as an assistant professor in 1973 and has served as acting head (1993) and executive officer (1989) of the department, is noted for his research and teaching in polymer fluid mechanics, rheology, transport phenomena and applied mathematics. He was responsible for the first systematic mapping of a flow transition diagram for complex flow of a polymeric liquid and the first accurate numerical method for computing the complex flow of polymer liquids.
As department head, he succeeds Dean Brown, the Warren K. Lewis Professor of Chemical Engineering.
In announcing the appointment, Dean Brown praised Professor Armstrong as "an outstanding engineering scientist and scholar with proven ability as a leader. I look forward to working with Bob and the department as it continues to define the chemical engineering discipline into the next century."
Dean Brown also thanked Professor Charles Cooney for "outstanding leadership" as acting head and executive officer of the department following Professor Brown's appointment as dean.
Chemical engineering as a field of study was originated at MIT in 1888. During the early 20th century, the faculty at MIT defined and unified the concepts and fundamental principles of chemical engineering, and in the process founded the profession. The department has traditionally led the nation in awarding graduate degrees and its alumni have held positions of responsibility and leadership in industry, government and academia. The active faculty numbers about 30, and the 500 students divide about evenly into graduate and undergraduate groups.
Professor Armstrong received the BChE degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology (1970) and the PhD from the University of Wisconsin (1973).
He received the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Professional progress Award in 1992. The award, which recognizes "a significant contribution to the science of chemical engineering," cited his accomplishments as an educator and researcher. He has just finished serving as president of the Society of Rheology.
Professor Armstrong and his wife, Deborah Reese Armstrong, a psychotherapist, live in Lexington, where she maintains a private practice.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on June 5, 1996.