July 14, 2011 — The American Society of Engineering Education has selected Larry G. Richards, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Virginia, as a member of its Academy of Fellows. Richards was honored June 29 at the society's annual conference in Vancouver, B.C.
He is the first ASEE fellow selected from the U.Va. School of Engineering and Applied Science.
The fellowship honors Richards' leadership of engineering education initiatives for ASEE and the Engineering School. He served as chair of the Educational Research and Methods Division of ASEE and in 2006 was program chairman for the new K-12 Engineering Education and Outreach Division. He is active in ASEE's Entrepreneurship Division and the National Inventors and Innovators Alliance, and he serves as U.Va.'s ASEE campus representative. Richards also is active in Frontiers in Education and served as general chairman of that organization's 2010 annual conference.
Richards received his undergraduate degree from Michigan State University in 1964 and his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois in 1971 – in psychology.
Shortly after arriving at U.Va. in 1969, Richards started consulting on a research project on passenger acceptance of aircraft motion. His work led to his moving full-time to the Research Laboratories for the Engineering Sciences, and teaching in the former Department of Applied Math and Computer Science.
He joined the Engineering School faculty in 1976 and moved to mechanical and aerospace engineering in 1985 to develop and administer the Manufacturing Systems Engineering Program. He served as director of the manufacturing program from 1986 to 2002 and as director of the A.H. Small Center for Computer-Aided Engineering from 1992 to 2002.
For the past eight years, Richards has led the Virginia Middle School Engineering Education Initiative, which develops engineering teaching kits for middle school science and math classes throughout Virginia. Richards teaches courses in "Creativity and New Product Development" and "Invention and Design," as well as graduate and undergraduate courses on probability and statistics. He regularly offers courses via distance education through the Commonwealth Graduate Engineering Program and served on its advisory board.