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The University of Tennessee Space Institute Names New Director of Center for Laser Applications

Mark J. Balas was recently named Director of the Center for Laser Applications at the University of Tennessee Space Institute (UTSI) and appointed Professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering, Tickle College of Engineering at the University of Tennessee. He is the Holder of the Jack D. Whitfield Professorship of Dynamic Systems and will direct the newly established UTSI Center for Autonomous and Evolving Systems.

UTSI’s Executive Director, Mark Whorton, recently announced Balas as the newest member of the Space Institute’s administrative and academic/research team.

“Balas is an internationally known expert and leader in the field of dynamics and control of complex dynamic systems,” Whorton said. “As Director of CLA, Professor Balas brings a depth of professional and academic expertise to this important Center.” We are very excited to have him join our team and help us continue to distinguish UTSI with excellence in research and education,” said Whorton.

Prior to his August 1, 2017 appointment as Professor and Director of the Center for Laser Applications at UTSI, Balas was a distinguished Professor of Aerospace Engineering and Professor of Electrical Engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, FL. He was formerly the Guthrie Nicholson Professor of Electrical Engineering and former Head of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Wyoming.

“I am excited about my dual role as Professor of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering (MABE) and Director of the Center for Laser Applications (CLA),” said Balas.  I am also honored and humbled to hold the Jack D. Whitfield Professorship of Dynamic Systems.

Balas is an expert in Control Theory and Aerospace Systems Applications, Adaptive Control, Infinite Dimensional Systems Theory, Control of Quantum Systems, Evolving Systems and Modern Engineering Mathematics.  His research in reduced-order control and the alleviation of instability via residual mode filtering is well known throughout the field of active aerospace structures.  He has developed controllers for many space systems including Hubble Telescope, the Teledesic Communications Satellite Array and the US Air Force Deployable Optical Telescope Demonstration Project. His current work in the theory of control of systems in Hilbert Space is setting the stage for the first use of adaptive control on quantum gates in quantum information systems and quantum computing.

“He has held various positions for many years in academia, industry and government and his expertise will complement our research groups well,” said Whorton. Among his careers, he has been a university professor for over 35 years with RPI, MIT, University of Colorado-Boulder, and University of Wyoming, and has mentored 42 doctoral students. He has over 350 publications in archive journals, refereed conference proceedings and technical book chapters.

Balas received his PhD in Mathematics and his MS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Denver. He is a life fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), a life fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), and a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).