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Jayanth N. Kudva

Ph.D., Aerospace and Ocean Engineering, 1979

During his graduate studies at Virginia Tech, and inspired by his professors in the department, Jay Kudva had one goal: to teach and conduct cutting-edge research at university.  So after receiving his Ph.D. in 1979, he joined Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, NY, as an assistant professor in the Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering department.  While he enjoyed his time at RPI, within a year Jay decided to work in the aerospace industry, temporarily, and landed in Los Angeles at Northrop Grumman Corporation.

He found himself working on one interesting project after another – from laser-effects on composites to post-buckling structures to bolted joints to adaptive and smart structures.  In no time at all, the exciting work and sunny weather won him over and he settled in Southern California. At Northrop Grumman, Jay spearheaded division activities on smart and adaptive structures.  He developed and established a multi-disciplinary team of structures, materials, electrical, avionics, and test engineers to conduct applied R&D in smart structures, smart skins, and related technologies.  The team won and executed industry-leading programs on structural health monitoring, conformal load-bearing antennas, and hinge-less and gap-less control surfaces for transonic aircraft and secured multiple patents in these areas.

In 2003, spurred by midlife introspection, Jay decided to start a company – NextGen Aeronautics, Inc. Starting with a multi-million dollar contract from DARPA on morphing aircraft on which NextGen designed, fabricated, and successfully flight tested the world’s first two jet powered in-flight morphing UAVs, NextGen has been on the cutting edge of aerospace R&D since its inception. While he never returned to a full-time academic career, Jay has taught part-time at many southern California universities and is currently an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California (2015-2017).

Select Awards and Recognitions
SPIE Smart Structures and Materials Lifetime Achievement Award,  2007
AIAA ASME Adaptive Structures Prize, 2010
Fellow of American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, 2015