The Gilbreth Lectures were established in 2001 by the Council of the NAE as a means to acknowledge innovative engineers and make them more visible to the NAE’s large membership. The Gilbreth Lectureships are named in honor of Lillian Gilbreth, the first woman elected to the NAE and a pioneer in the field of Human Factors. The NAE has more than 2,000 peer-elected members and foreign members, senior professionals in business, academia, and government who are among the world’s most accomplished engineers.
Recipients of the lectureships are selected from among presenters at NAE’s Frontiers of Engineering symposia, through a vote by meeting participants. Kerkez, chosen by peers in the highly selective Frontiers of Engineering program, will speak about “Building Smarter Water Systems” at the 2018 NAE National Meeting held in Irvine, CA on February 8.
Gilbreth Lecturers receive a plaque, an honorarium, and travel expenses. Funding for the lectureship is derived from income on an endowment that has been designated for the encouragement of young engineers.
Kerkez’s research focuses on the development of intelligent water grids, which have the potential to revolutionize the interaction between hydrologic systems and man-made infrastructure. His long-term goal is to build the Internet of water, an intelligent cyber-physical system that connects natural water bodies with physical infrastructure. This demands the use of advanced sensing technologies and data-driven models on top of a novel communications backbone.
Currently, Kerkez is leading a national team of researchers from three other institutions to investigate how “smart” stormwater systems—outfitted with autonomous sensors and valves—can reconfigure urban watersheds in real-time to reduce flooding and improve water quality.
He is only the second University of Michigan faculty member to ever be invited to be a Gilbreth Lecturer.