Distinguished Alumni Awards

Michael B. Bragg

Michael B. Bragg

For his role as a visionary educator in the field of aerospace engineering and a proven leader in the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Dean, College of Engineering, University of Washington

  • BS, 1976, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering, University of Illinois
  • MS, 1977, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering, University of Illinois
  • PhD, 1981, Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering, The Ohio State University

As an educator, innovator and leader, Mike Bragg has left an indelible mark on the University of Illinois and the aerospace industry. A native of nearby Atwood, Bragg had a passion for airplanes growing up, earning his pilot’s license at age 17, and enrolling at Illinois in 1972 despite some unsettling times in the aero industry.

Passionate about hypersonics, aerodynamics, wind turbines, flight mechanics and sonic boom mitigation, his research has advanced those areas of study. Bragg is best known as an international expert and consultant on the affect of ice accretion on aircraft aerodynamics and flight safety. He was a designer of the vortex generators for the Voyager aircraft, which performed the first unrefueled flight around the world. Bragg earned NASA’s Turning Goals Into Reality (TGIR) award to “revolutionize aviation” in both 2001 (AGATE Icing Research Team) and 2002 (Aircraft Alliance Project Team).

After earning a PhD and serving on the faculty at Ohio State, Bragg returned to Illinois in 1990 where he has had an influence in growth at both the department and college level. He has directed more than $15 million in externally funded research and published more than 200 research papers. More than 50 graduate students and five post-doctoral researchers received advanced degrees under Bragg’s guidance. Bragg earned the Stanley H. Pierce Teaching Award from the College in 2004, the same year he was named a fellow in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).

In 1999, Bragg was named head of Department of Aerospace Engineering, serving in that role until being appointed associate dean for research and administrative affairs for the College of Engineering in 2006. His administrative duties included four years as executive associate dean for academic affairs and a year as interim dean for the College. He has been instrumental in curriculum innovation and improvement to student resources. He supervised the Technology Entrepreneur Center on campus, under which he co-founded a pair of start-ups, Bragg and Associates, Inc., and CU Aerospace.

Bragg currently serves as the Frank & Julie Jungers Dean of Engineering for the University of Washington in the hub of the aerospace community.