Logo: University of Southern California

Former ONR Director Installed As New Chair

USC Viterbi’s Michael Kassner becomes the inaugural Choong Hoon Cho Chair in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
By: Marc Ballon
March 30, 2014 —

Dean Yannis C. Yortsos, Professor Michael Kassner, Y.H. Cho, USC President C.L. Max Nikias
In an elegant Wednesday, March 26 ceremony, USC Viterbi Professor Michael Kassner was installed as the inaugural Choong Hoon Cho Chair in Aerospace and Mechanical 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 area of 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 (ONR) 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 (ASM), the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

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 Yang Ho (Y.H.) Cho, USC Board trustee and Korean Airlines chair, and the Boeing Company created the chair. The chair 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 Company, 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.”

Several high-ranking Boeing executives, including Scott Strode, vice president and general manager of maintenance, modifications and upgrades for Boeing Defense, Space and Security; Kang-Woong Lee, president of Korea Aerospace University; Inha University President Choon Bae Park; and other dignitaries attended the ceremony.

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