By Abe Danaher | February 12, 2020
Distinguished Professor Michael Sutton was elected to the National Academy of Engineering on February 6 for his creation of digital image correlation technology (DIC) and his co-founding of Correlated Solutions, Incorporated, which has spread the DIC technology globally. Sutton is the second faculty member at the University of South Carolina College of Engineering and Computing elected to the NAE, joining Chemical Engineering Professor John Monnier.
"This recognition by the NAE simply tells me that all the decades of hard work at the University of South Carolina created something that was helpful and beneficial," Sutton says. "Today, the technology is being used not only at South Carolina, but worldwide. It gives you some internal peace knowing that you’ve done something that is going to stand the test of time and has been recognized by others as being a significant contribution.”
Sutton is the first faculty member in the state of South Carolina elected to the NAE based solely on research performed in the state. He has been a professor in the college’s mechanical engineering department since 1982, where his work in digital image correlation made him a pioneer in the field. DIC is used in a variety of ways, from assessing the effectiveness of anti-wrinkle cream to determining the shock impact for a military tank from an exploding IED. His research advanced the entire field of mechanical engineering, allowing for the measurement of full-field deformations in structures across a wide spectrum of materials.
"Mike has been a superb researcher and teacher, and his contributions continue to have profound impact on the work of many practitioners of experimental mechanics," says Hossein Haj-Hariri, dean of the College of Engineering and Computing. "We are proud of his election to the NAE, which remains one of the highest honors for an engineer. And, we are particularly proud that Mike’s contributions have come about over a career wholly in our college, and with our students and colleagues, over many years. It is my honor to be his colleague."
Sutton began working on digital image correlation at UofSC in 1982, shortly after completing his doctorate in the department of theoretical and applied mechanics at the University of Illinois. In 1997, through his research at the CEC, he co-founded Correlated Solutions, Incorporated to transfer the technology to industry, government laboratories and academia throughout the world. Since that time, Correlated Solutions has become a leader in digital image correlation and now does business globally, with DIC systems on all continents except Antarctica. Sutton maintains an advisory role at the company today, with Hubert Schreier, his former doctoral student, and Stephen McNeill, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at UofSC, overseeing day-to-day operations as CEO and CFO, respectively.
Election to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering is one of the highest professional distinctions an engineer can receive. The NAE recognizes outstanding contributions in engineering research, practice or education and innovative advancements across traditional and emerging engineering fields, as well as engineering education.