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UPS Foundation Professor and Chair of the Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering George Pappas was elected to the National Academy of Engineering on Feb. 6 (Photo from Penn Engineering).

George Pappas, the UPS Foundation professor of transportation in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, was elected to the National Academy of Engineering for his research analyzing safety-critical cyber-physical systems.

NAE is a nonprofit organization that aims to contribute to national welfare by shaping research fields and informing the public about engineering. Pappas will join the NAE Class of 2024, consisting of 114 new members and 21 international members, according to the announcement

NAE was founded in 1964 as part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. With the new Class of 2024, the total membership has increased to 2,310 in the United States and 332 internationally. Every year, new members are elected for their achievements in advancing new and evolving technological fields, making progress in established engineering disciplines, or introducing innovative methods in engineering education. 

Pappas' research focuses on developing safety-critical cyber-physical systems — electronic systems in which malfunction or failure can cause serious injury or death. Pappas works with technology such as unmanned aerial vehicles, multi-robot systems, and next-generation medical devices. His research emphasizes the importance of reliability and safety when building these systems. 

Pappas will be assuming the role of director for the recently launched Raj and Neera Singh Program in AI. The program, which was announced on Feb. 13, offers a bachelor’s degree in artificial intelligence — the first of its kind among Ivy League institutions. The major will be available to students starting fall 2024 and will include courses in courses in machine learning, computing algorithms, cognitive science, and electrical and systems engineering.

In addition to the Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering, Pappas holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Computer and Information Sciences and Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics. He previously served as the Deputy Dean for Research in the Engineering School and currently conducts his research at both the GRASP Lab and the PRECISE Center.

In 2019, Pappas was elected to be a fellow of the International Federation of Automatic Control. The award honors those who have made “outstanding and extraordinary contributions” to research involving automatic control and system engineering.