Dr. Vittal Rao, the William A. Rutledge-Emerson Electric Co. Distinguished Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Missouri-Rolla, recently received a Director’s Award for Collaborative Integration from the National Science Foundation.
Since April 2003, Rao has worked as a program director for the control, networks and computational intelligence program in the electrical and communications systems division at NSF as part of an intergovernmental personnel act (IPA) assignment. The award recognizes Rao’s outstanding collaborative efforts as a member of the management team for Science of Learning Centers (SLC).
"The SLC program funds large-scale, long-term centers that will extend the frontiers of knowledge on learning and create the intellectual, organizational and physical infrastructure needed for long-term advancement of learning research," says Dr. Usha Varshney, acting director of the electrical and communications systems division.
As a member of the management team, Rao recommended that NSF fund the Center for Excellence for Learning in Education, Science, and Technology at Boston University, where Rao will serve as program officer. The center’s scientists will identify through research how learning takes place and concentrate on developing algorithms for brain modeling and the behaviors that will enable the learning process, Rao adds.
Dr. Robert Mitchell, dean of the UMR School of Engineering, says Rao’s appointment at NSF brings significant benefits to UMR. As a UMR representative in Washington, he has been able to involve several UMR faculty in new activities and alert us to developing areas of research, Mitchell says. Due to his success at NSF, the stature of UMR has been enhanced, and this will lead to more opportunities just like this one. The NSF is a great example of our government doing things right by involving many experts to move our nation in directions of new discovery and success in meeting technical challenges.
Rao joined UMR in 1981 and served as the director of the Intelligent Systems Center at UMR for 13 years. Prior to joining UMR, Rao was a lecturer and assistant professor in electrical engineering at India Institute of Technology (IIT), a research fellow at the University of New Brunswick, Canada, and a visiting professor at Technical University of Nova Scotia, Canada.
Rao earned his bachelor of engineering degree in electrical engineering from Osmania University in Hyderabad, India, in 1969. He obtained his master of technology in control engineering and his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from IIT in 1972 and 1975, respectively.
His professional memberships include the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the International Society for Optical Engineering and the American Society for Engineering Education.