Ilinca Stanciulescu: Romanian Alum Into Aerospace

July 1, 2009

Ilinca StanciulescuGraduation Year: 2005

Degree at Duke:

Civil Engineering

Career Highlights:

  • Assistant professor of civil engineering at Rice University

Just like her mother, Ilinca Stanciulescu (PhD ’05) has always excelled at math and science, and also like her mother, she became a civil engineer. A native of Romania, Stanciulescu earned a BS and an MASc in civil engineering from the Technical University of Civil Engineering in Bucharest, where her mother also taught.

When it came time to do her advanced studies, she came to the Pratt School of Engineering, where she earned a PhD in civil engineering under the guidance of Tod Larson, Chair and Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. She is now Assistant Professor of Structural Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne.

“The educational system in Romania is quite different than the system in the United States,” Stanciulescu said. “When you enter college, you go into a dedicated program. It is assumed from day one what educational path you will follow after high school. When we finish with our bachelor’s degree, we have already taken more engineering classes than most graduate students here.”

“However, the PhD programs are solely research, with no classes,” she continued. “So by the times Romanians and Americans earn their PhD, they are pretty much equal in terms of education, though the route they took was different.”

Stanciulescu’s research interests are in computational mechanics (non-linear finite elements), constitutive modeling of materials, structural analysis, and non-linear dynamics.

“The applications of most of my research are in aerospace,” Stanciulescu said. “I do a lot of collaborations with the Air Force. I spent two months last summer in the Air Force Research Lab in Dayton, Ohio. It was two months of just doing research, and I loved it. It reminded me of my time in graduate school at Duke when you could just think up problems and figure out how to solve them.”

In the fall of 2009, she moved to Houston, where she became assistant professor of civil engineering at Rice University.

Originally published Summer 2009