Karen E. Willcox

Professor, Director of the Oden Institute of Computational Engineering and Sciences,  W.A. "Tex" Moncrief Jr. Endowment in Simulation-Based Engineering and Sciences Chair No. 5, Peter O'Donnell, Jr. Centennial Chair in Computing Systems

Photo of Willcox, Karen E.

Email: kwillcox@oden.utexas.edu
Phone: 512-232-6259
Office: POB 4.427

Research Area:
Computational Mechanics

Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Research Interests:

  • Data to decisions in engineering systems

  • Computational models and methods for design, optimization, control and uncertainty quantification of engineering systems

  • Reduced-order modeling and multi-fidelity modeling

  • Future aircraft technologies, aircraft system optimization, aircraft environmental impact, multidisciplinary design, unmanned aerial vehicles, digital twins

Karen E. Willcox is Director of the Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences (ICES), and a Professor of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, at the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to joining UT Austin in 2018, she spent 17 years as a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she served as Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the founding Co-Director of the MIT Center for Computational Engineering, and the Associate Head of the MIT Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Willcox holds a Bachelor of Engineering Degree from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and masters and PhD degrees from MIT. Prior to becoming a professor at MIT, she worked at Boeing Phantom Works with the Blended-Wing-Body aircraft design group. Her research has produced scalable computational methods for design of next-generation engineered systems, with a particular focus on model reduction as a way to learn principled approximations from data and on multi-fidelity formulations to leverage multiple sources of uncertain information. These methods are widely applied in aircraft system design and environmental policy decision-making.

Willcox is currently Co-director of the Department of Energy DiaMonD Multifaceted Mathematics Capability Center on Mathematics at the Interfaces of Data, Models, and Decisions. She leads an Air Force MURI on optimal design of multi-physics systems and an Air Force Data-Driven Dynamic Applications Systems project team that is developing a self-aware UAV. She has co-authored more than 90 papers in peer-reviewed journals and advised more than 40 graduate students, including 16 PhD students.

In addition to her research pursuits, Willcox is active in education innovation. She served as Chair of the MIT OpenCourseWare Faculty Advisory Board, co-Chair of the MIT Online Education Policy Initiative and co-Chair of the 2013-2014 Institute wide Task Force on the Future of MIT Education. She is a recognized innovator in the U.S. education landscape, where she is a 2015 recipient of the First in the World Department of Education grant.

Willcox is Fellow of SIAM, Associate Fellow of AIAA, and member of ASEE and ASME. She has served in multiple leadership positions within AIAA and SIAM, including leadership roles in the SIAM Activity Group on Computational Science and Engineering and in the AIAA Multidisciplinary Design Optimization Technical Committee. She is Section Editor of SIAM Journal on Scientific Computing and Associate Editor of AIAA Journal. She is a current member of the National Academies Board on Mathematical Sciences and Analytics, and has served on four National Academies studies. In 2017, she was awarded Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM).

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