Sutton elected to National Academy of Engineering
A MechSE alumnus who completed his PhD in the Theoretical and Applied Mechanics (TAM) Department at Illinois, Michael Albert Sutton (PhDTAM ’81) has been elected to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering (NAE), one of the highest honors that the United States bestows upon engineers.
Professor Sutton was recognized for his pioneering contributions in the development and transfer to industry of a computer-based imaging method known as digital image correlation, which is used worldwide today to quantitatively measure how structures such as cars, bridges, and spacecraft deform under load.
“He is the ‘godfather’ of the digital image correlation method,” said Jim Phillips, MechSE professor emeritus, who was a faculty member in the TAM Department for more than 30 years.
Sutton is the first South Carolina faculty member in history to be elected to any of the national academies based on his work in the State of South Carolina.
Sutton spent his first 31 years in the Midwest, growing up in Carmi, Illinois. After receiving his BS (1972) and MS (1974) degrees from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, and working in industry for four years, Sutton joined the TAM Department at Illinois, completing his PhD in 1981 under the direction of NAE member Professor Charles E. Taylor. Sutton then joined the faculty at the University of South Carolina in 1982 to begin his 36-year academic career.
In recognition of his contributions, MechSE-Illinois hosted Professor Sutton and honored him with a plenary lecture in 2013. In the same year, the Michael A. and E. Ann Sutton TAM Professors Graduate Student Scholarship was founded at Illinois to recognize the essential contribution of TAM faculty and the TAM education he received.
“UIUC will always be a special place for me, as the TAM Department is where I grew up professionally and learned the fundamentals necessary for high quality academic research and scholarly activity,” he said. “Without the education I obtained in TAM at UIUC, my career would not have been what it is now.”
Sutton retired from teaching in 2018, continuing to do research with colleagues in the university and at Correlated Solutions, Inc. (www.correlatedsolutions.com), a company co-founded by Sutton in 1997 to transition the image correlation technology to industry. Sutton married Elizabeth Ann Severns from Paducah, KY in 1973. The Suttons continue to reside in Columbia, SC and have two grown daughters and four grandchildren.