Beginning this fall, Dr. C. “Nat” Nataraj, Professor and Chair of Mechanical Engineering, will assume the position of the Mr. and Mrs. Robert F. Moritz, Sr. Endowed Chair in Systems Engineering.
Established in October 2006 through a generous gift from Robert F. Moritz, Jr., DDS, VSB ’51, and his wife Diane, the Moritz Chair was created in recognition of the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of real-world engineering problems. In response, engineering educators must develop curricula to bridge the traditional boundaries among engineering major disciplines. The Moritz Chair supports the College’s mission to continually innovate within the undergraduate and graduate curricula in an effort to develop engineers who are better prepared to face these challenges after graduation.
“I am honored to be recognized by Villanova for my contributions in research, teaching, and mentoring over the last three decades. This endowed position enhances the reputation of Villanova's research accomplishments and raises our profile in national and international collaborative efforts. I appreciate the confidence placed in me by bestowing this endowed position, and I will do everything to be worthy of the honor,” says Dr. Nataraj. “Such a position provides me with resources and time to pursue some truly wonderful educational and research challenges. It will also allow me to devote time and resources to write more books and monographs, in what I see as the next phase of my scholarly career.”
“Nat has had a long and distinguished career at Villanova as an outstanding teacher and internationally recognized scholar in dynamic systems. He was selected from among an outstanding group of candidates,” says Dr. Gary Gabriele, Drosdick Endowed Dean of Engineering. Dr. Nataraj was recommended for the position by an interdisciplinary committee of engineering faculty members.
A member of the Villanova Engineering family since 1988, Dr. Nataraj oversees the Department of Mechanical Engineering, with responsibilities for developing strategic plans that align with those of the College and University, while ensuring compliance with accreditation requirements. In the classroom, he primarily teaches in the areas of dynamics and control at the undergraduate and graduate levels. He has also supervised 30 undergraduate researchers, 25 master’s research theses, and seven PhD candidates at Villanova.
In 2002, he helped found the Center for Nonlinear Dynamics and Control (CENDAC) and served as its inaugural director until 2007. CENDAC is home to the Dynamic Systems Laboratory, where Dr. Nataraj investigates research problems involving modeling, control, and diagnostics of nonlinear systems for a range of industries, including health care and the military. Other areas of scholarship for which he is internationally recognized include the areas of unmanned vehicles, robotics, and rotor dynamics. As such, the International Journal of Advanced Robotic Systems and the Journal of Applied Nonlinear Dynamics recently invited him to join their editorial boards. He has been the chief organizer for many American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) symposia for more than 15 years, including the largest conference in the world on rotor dynamics and control, and has also served on ASME's Technical Committee on Vibration & Sound.
Dr. Nataraj also leads the College’s efforts to host and facilitate the annual Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) regional competition, through which hundreds of high school and college students from the region put hand-made remotely operated vehicles to the test in a daylong competition on campus. He has also been active in the development of curricular materials for SeaPERCH, a system of instructional materials that K-12 teachers and students can use to build their own robots.
Dr. and Mrs. Moritz named their gift of an endowed chair position for Dr. Moritz’s father, who was a pioneer in the manufacture of machinery for the corrugated container industry. The inaugural chair was held by Dr. Kenneth Muske, Professor of Chemical Engineering, from 2006 to 2010.