Robert Canfield

photo of Scholar of the Week Robert CanfieldThe Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation recognizes Robert Canfield, assistant department head for academic affairs and professor of aerospace and ocean engineering, for his pioneering research in aircraft design, structures, and materials.

Canfield’s fields of expertise are multidisciplinary design optimization (MDO), high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) sensorcraft, and micro air vehicle (MAV) conceptual design.

His research methods for automated structural optimization of aircraft contribute to new capabilities for the design of more-efficient flight vehicles.

Canfield serves as technical director of the Virginia Tech Airworthiness Center. VTAC researchers conduct airworthiness studies, develop new tools for airworthiness assessment, and conduct research on new approaches to streamline the airworthiness process. As technical director, he oversees the airworthiness research tasks.

His pioneering research on fundamental technology, its application to real-world problems, and his leadership in the field of aerospace MDO were among the reasons cited for his being awarded the 2014 AIAA Multidisciplinary Design Optimization (MDO) Award.

He is an AIAA Associate Fellow.

Canfield has published 46 journal articles, 102 conference papers, and co-authored a textbook on reliability-based structural design.

Prior to joining the Virginia Tech community in 2008, Canfield worked for 24 years in the U.S. Air Force. As director of policy and integration at the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, he formulated policy for planning and funding the $300 million per year Air Force basic research program.

He graduated from Duke University with a bachelor’s degree summa cum laude in mechanical engineering, and was commissioned in the U.S. Air Force in 1983. He earned his master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics at Stanford University in 1984, and his doctoral degree in engineering mechanics at Virginia Tech in 1992.




Nominate a Scholar of the Week

The goals of the Scholar of the Week are to recognize individuals while also telling people about research and scholarly activities at the university.

Recognition is based on research and/or scholarship.

Please nominate individuals — not teams, groups, or more than one person.

Please provide a sentence describing the research, scholarship, or creative work in non-technical, generally accessible language. A second sentence with an example or application is helpful.

  • Send nominations to: Srinath Ekkad, Associate Vice President for Research Programs, Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation.