Charles Elachi bigraphy, stories - Lebanese electrical engineer, JPL director

Charles Elachi : biography

April 18, 1947 -

Charles Elachi, born April 18, 1947 in Lebanon . Cedars Network. Retrieved on 2008-02-20. is the Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), located in Pasadena, California. He has held this position since May 1, 2001 and also holds professorships in electrical engineering and planetary science at Caltech.

Elachi is the director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and vice president of the California Institute of Technology.

Early life and education

Primary and secondary education in Lebanon

Elachi studied at Collège des Apôtres, Jounieh from 1958 to 1962, and then at the Ecole Orientale, Zahlé, where he graduated in 1964 first in Lebanon in the Lebanese Baccalaureate (Mathématiques Elémentaires).

University studies

Elachi received a bachelor's degree (1968) in physics from Joseph Fourier University, Grenoble, France; a first master's degree (Diplôme d'Ingénieur - 1968) in engineering from Grenoble Institute of Technology; and a second master's degree (1969) and doctorate (1971) in electrical sciences from the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. He also has a master's degree (1983) in geology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and an MBA (1979) from the University of Southern California. He joined JPL in 1970.


His numerous awards have included the Association of Space Explorers Congress Crystal Helmet Award (2012), the Pasadena Arts Council Inaugural AxS Award (2012), the National Academy of Engineering Arthur M. Bueche Award (2011), the Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur, France (2011), the Space Foundation's J. E. Hill Lifetime Space Achievement Award (2011), the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics Carl Sagan Award (2011), an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Occidental College (2011), the Sigma Xi William Procter Prize for Scientific Achievement (2008), and the International von Kármán Wings Award (2007). He was also honored as one of "America's Best Leaders" by U.S. News & World Report (2006), in collaboration with the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, the Royal Society of London's Massey Award (2006), Lebanon's Order of Cedars (2006), the American Task Force for Lebanon's Philip Habib Award for Distinguished Public Service (2006), the American Astronautical Society's Space Flight Award (2005), the National Defense Industrial Association's Bob Hope Distinguished Citizen Award (2005), NASA Exceptional Service Medal (2005), NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal (2004, 2002, 1994), NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal (1982), NASA Distinguished Service Medal (1999), the Takeda Award (2002), the Wernher von Braun Award (2002), Dryden Award (2000), the Committee on Space Research's Nordberg Medal (1996), the Nevada Medal (1995), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' Medal of Engineering Excellence (1992) and Geoscience and Remote Sensing Distinguished Achievement Award (1987), the W. T. Pecora Award (1985), and the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing's Autometric Award (1980 and 1982).


Elachi has been a principal investigator on a number of research and development studies and flight projects sponsored by NASA. These include the Shuttle Imaging Radar series (science team leader), the Magellan imaging radar at Venus (team member), and the Cassini-Huygens Titan radar (team leader). He is author of more than 230 publications in the fields of active microwave remote sensing and electromagnetic theory, and holds several patents in those fields. He taught the physics of remote sensing at Caltech from 1982 to 2001.

As JPL's director for space and Earth science programs from 1982 to 2000, he was responsible for the development of numerous flight missions and instruments for Earth observation, planetary exploration, and astrophysics.

In 1988, the Los Angeles Times selected him as one of Southern California's rising stars who will make a difference in L.A. In 1989, asteroid 1982 SU was renamed 4116 Elachi in recognition of his contribution to planetary exploration.

In 1989, he was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering (NAE). From 1993 to 1995, he served as a member of the Academy's 4th Decadal Committee. In 1995 he chaired its membership committee, and in July 2007, he was elected as a Councillor of the National Academy of Engineering, serving a six year term.

He has chaired a number of strategic planning committees for NASA. He has lectured in more than 20 countries about space exploration and Earth observation. He participated in a number of archeological expeditions in Egypt, Oman and China.

In 2010, he became a member of the International Advisory Board of King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Saudi Arabia, and also serves on the International Advisory Board of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. He has also served as Chairman of the Lebanese American University Board of Trustees.

In 2011, he received the Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur award.

In 2011, the Space Foundation bestowed its highest honor, the General James E. Hill Lifetime Space Achievement Award, to Elachi.

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