Newman earns 2013 SEC Faculty Achievement Award

May 7, 2013

Mississippi State University has made James C. Newman Jr. its recipient of the 2013 Southeastern Conference Faculty Achievement Award.

The SEC Faculty Achievement Award program is designed to honor faculty from each of the conference’s 14 member-institutions for outstanding work in teaching and scholarship. The selected professors serve as role models for other faculty as well as their students.

Each institution’s achievement award winner receives a $5,000 honorarium from the conference. An overall SEC Professor of the Year is selected from the group and receives an additional $15,000 honorarium. The University of Tennessee’s Harry McSween accepted this honor at the annual SEC Awards Dinner in Destin, Fla.

When Newman found out he was chosen has the recipient for the 2013 SEC Faculty Award on behalf of MSU one word came to mind:


“I get paid for doing what I like to do, but I want to thank the number of people who influenced my work habits, my desire to understand, my ability to write technical papers, and to search for scientific knowledge. They deserve the credit,” Newman said.

Newman is no stranger to prestigious honors and awards. This spring he was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Engineering Section and received the Fatigue Damage of Structural Materials Lifetime Achievement Award.

As Richard H. Johnson Chair and professor of aerospace engineering, Newman teaches classes in a variety of topics including mechanics of materials, elasticity, plasticity and aircraft structures. His research focuses on fatigue and fracture of materials and aircraft structures, with grants and contracts totaling more than $3.6 million during his tenure.

Newman also led the development of an American Society for Testing and Materials standard test method for fracture of thin-sheet materials used in many structures, which was adopted in 2006. That organization granted him Fellow status in 1986, five years after awarding him the George R. Irwin Award in Fracture Mechanics.

Before coming to MSU in 2001, Newman spent 37 years at NASA where he worked to prevent major aircraft and spacecraft structural failures. He enjoys relating his hands-on experiences to what he teaches today in the classroom and in the lab.

“I spent the worst two weeks of my life trying to decide on leaving NASA and joining MSU,” Newman said. “But I have been very lucky in my life in selecting the right paths in my career, and I decided to come to MSU. I felt that our achievements at NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration needed to be taught to the next generation of students. And MSU had a tremendous track record in aerospace engineering research and education.”

During his career at NASA, Newman received many honors including two medals for exceptional scientific achievement, four special achievement awards, 10 group achievement awards, a Superstar in Aeronautics Award, and a Silver Snoopy Award. In 2001, he also received the John W. Lincoln Medal from the U.S. Air Force.

Throughout his career, both with NASA and MSU, Newman has published 175 scientific research journal articles and146 scientific conference papers. He has also given 165 presentations addressing stress analysis, fatigue, fatigue-crack growth and fracture of materials in commercial and military aircraft and rotorcraft fleets in the United States and worldwide.

Newman received a doctoral in engineering mechanics from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1974, after earning a bachelor’s in civil engineering from the University of Mississippi.

The SEC Faculty Achievement Awards were first presented in 2012 as part of the conference’s new academic initiative, SEC-U. It is believed to be the first such program at any NCAA Division I program.

More information about the SEC-U program visit

More information about the Bagley College of Engineering can be found at

By: Emily McConnell