The Honda Foundation of Japan has awarded this year’s Honda Prize to J. Tinsley Oden, director of the Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences (ICES) at The University of Texas at Austin, for his role in establishing the field of computational mechanics, which enabled the development of computer simulation technology used broadly throughout industry and academia.
Established in 1980, the Honda Prize is awarded annually to recognize accomplishments in ecotechnology, a philosophy of working to advance human achievement while concurrently preserving the natural environment. For Oden’s selection, the Honda Foundation recognized computer simulation’s wide application to save resources and improve product quality in fields ranging from manufacturing to medicine as a strong representation of ecotechnology’s goals.
“The Honda Foundation joins a long line of organizations that have recognized the contributions of Tinsley Oden. Since coming to the university in 1973, he has made monumental advances in interdisciplinary education and research. I’m proud of this prestigious and well-deserved recognition of one of our most innovative faculty members,” said Bill Powers, president of The University of Texas at Austin.
Oden is widely credited with the early development of computational mechanics, a new discipline that integrates mathematics, computer science, physics and applied mathematics to solve problems in science and engineering. Along with his work as director of ICES, he serves as an associate vice president for research at the university and professor of aerospace engineering and engineering science, professor of mathematics and professor of computer science.
He is also noted for developing mathematical estimates of errors in computer simulations and ways to systematically reduce and control those errors. Today, these subjects form the foundation of computational engineering and science, a discipline affecting science, medicine and engineering, with applications in manufacturing, disaster prevention, drug design, surgery, and climate and weather prediction and more.
Oden’s early work led to the creation of the International Association for Computational Mechanics, a federation of more than 30 scientific organizations dedicated to computational mechanics.
Oden’s most recent work focuses on the theory and development of “multiscale” models that bridge the influence of events at many scales, from that of atoms and electrons to full-scale systems, such as machines, aircraft and automobiles. He is a leader in “predictive science,” in which uncertainty in observational data and model parameters is estimated using mathematical statistics and used to determine the accuracy of computational predictions.
The Honda Foundation is a public-interest incorporated foundation created by Honda Motor Company founder Soichiro Honda and his younger brother Benjiro Honda and currently headed by Hiroto Ishida, who will present the award. The 34th award ceremony for the Honda Prize will be held at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo on Nov. 18. In addition to the prize medal and certificate, the laureate will be awarded 10 million yen, equal to about $100,000.
Previous recipients of the Honda Prize include the late Nobel Prize laureate Ilya Prigogine of The University of Texas at Austin; Ian Hector Frazer, who developed the first vaccine designed to prevent a cancer; and Shuji Nakamura, inventor of the blue light-emitting diode (LED).