Azim Eskandarian, professor and head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, has been named the Nicholas and Rebecca Des Champs Chair in Mechanical Engineering by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.

The Nicholas and Rebecca Des Champs Chair in Mechanical Engineering was established in 2017 in honor of Nicholas and Rebecca Des Champs, who endowed the position with a $2 million gift. The appointment will be held continuously by the head of the department and expire when the recipient no longer serves as department head. Nicholas Des Champs enjoyed a distinguished career in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, or HVAC, industry after earning his bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. from Virginia Tech in mechanical engineering in 1962 and 1967, respectively.

Eskandarian, an internationally known researcher in the field of autonomous vehicles and vehicle safety, has been professor and head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech since 2015. During his two-and-one-half years at the university, Eskandarian has proven himself to be an engaged and effective leader, with an ability for building consensus and bringing different groups together for the sake of the department. His energy and enthusiasm are evident, especially with respect to departmental organization, faculty recruiting, and his work to implement a strategic plan for the department.

Eskandarian has developed strategic directions for the department and started several new initiatives to enhance the quality of scholarship, the student experiential learning, and diversity within the department, and streamlined several departmental procedures with new policies. He has made significant contributions to developing new academic curricula at both graduate and undergraduate levels and has expanded several international academic exchanges and partnerships leading to both student exchanges and scholarship activities among collaborating institutions.

He is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and a senior member of the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers.

Eskandarian received his bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. from George Washington University and a master's degree from Virginia Tech.

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