Jian Cao

Senior Institute Fellow

  • Mechanical Engineering, Northwestern University
  • Civil and Environmental Engineering (by courtesy), Northwestern University

Dr. Cao (MIT’95) is the Cardiss Collins Professor, Director of Northwestern Initiative for Manufacturing Science and Innovation, and an Associate Vice President for Research (AVPR) at Northwestern University. She was at the National Science Foundation as a program director for two years. Prof. Cao’s research interests are related to innovative manufacturing processes and systems. Her research has integrated analytical and numerical simulation methods, sensors and control, and design methodologies to advance manufacturing processes. Current research on flexible dieless forming, micro-forming, laser ablation processes and additive manufacturing has direct impacts on energy-efficient manufacturing, surface engineering and distributed manufacturing.


Professor Cao is an elected Fellow of ASME, SME, and the International Academy for Production Engineering (CIRP). Her major awards include SME Frederick W. Taylor Research Medal, Charles Russ Richards Memorial Award from ASME and Pi Tau Sigma, and ASME Blackall Machine Tool and Gage Award. Prof. Cao is the Technical Editor of the ASME Journal of Micro- and Nano-Manufacturing. She served as President of the SME North America Manufacturing Research Institute, and Chair of ASME Manufacturing Engineering Division. As an AVPR, Prof. Cao oversees the unit that administers the university’s core facilities and several University Research Centers, and fosters the collaboration between the physical sciences and engineering and the other disciplines across and beyond Northwestern.

Jian Cao