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Former Naval research director installed as new chair

Michael Kassner is the first holder of the Choong Hoon Cho Chair in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

Marc Ballonby Marc Ballon
Yortsos, Kassner, Cho, Nikias
Yannis C. Yortsos, Michael Kassner, Yang Ho Cho and USC President C. L. Max Nikias

In an elegant ceremony, Professor Michael Kassner was installed on March 26 as the first holder of the Choong Hoon Cho Chair in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.

Kassner, professor of materials science in the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering (AME), expressed deep gratitude for the honor.

“I will do my best to bring great credit to the chair,” he said.

Kassner, an expert in the mechanical behavior of metals, materials creep, fracture, fatigue and thermodynamics, joined USC in 2003 as AME department chair. More recently, he oversaw a nearly $1 billion basic research budget for the U.S. Navy as director of the Office of Naval Research in Washington, D.C. Kassner received the U.S. Navy’s Meritorious Public Service Medal for his service.

He is a fellow of the American Society of Metals, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

A graduate of Northwestern and Stanford universities, Kassner previously worked at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as head of the physical metallurgy and welding section and thrust leader for physical metallurgy research; spent a year at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands as a Fulbright Senior Scholar; and taught at Oregon State University for more than a decade.

Support from USC Trustee and Korean Airlines CEO Yang Ho (Y.H.) Cho and the Boeing Co. created the USC chair, which honors Choong Hoon Cho, the late chairman of Korean Airlines and Y.H. Cho’s father.

“Thanks to the inspired support of Y.H. Cho and the Boeing Co., the Choong Hoon Cho Chair in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering will serve as a vital cornerstone of academic excellence,” USC President C. L. Max Nikias said.

Added USC Viterbi Dean Yannis C. Yortsos: “Like his distinguished father before him, Y.H. Cho has taken Korean Airlines to new heights as chairman and CEO and possesses a deeply held belief in the power of education.”

Endowed chairs are the most tangible means to attract, honor and retain top-level, globally prominent faculty. The chairs provide invaluable financial support above and beyond salary for use in research, teaching and other academic endeavors.

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