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Atul Kelkar, Ph.D


Atul Kelkar, Ph.D. is the new Chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the D.W. Reynolds Distinguished Professor at Clemson University.


Kelkar has for the past two years worked as a program director at the National Science Foundation, where he co-led the Dynamics, Control, and System Diagnostics Program. He also served as one of the program directors on two NSF-wide, crosscutting programs: the National Robotics Initiative and Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation. Prior to joining the National Science Foundation, Kelkar was the associate chair for research and entrepreneurship for Iowa State’s mechanical engineering department. He also served as professor-in-charge for industry research and entrepreneurship for Iowa State’s College of Engineering.


Kelkar has more than 130 publications and sustained research funding averaging $600,000 per year. His lifetime total so far exceeds $9 million. He has founded five start-up companies in areas ranging from smart materials to educational software. One of his start-ups, VSI Aerospace, worked with NASA on a hypersonic vehicle project.


Kelkar was employed from 1993-95 at NASA Langley Research Center as a national research

council associate.  He devoted most of his time at the agency to spacecraft modeling and control. His projects with the agency included work on the Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter. Kelkar has a Bachelor of Science from the University of Poona and a master’s degree and Ph.D. from Old Dominion University, all in mechanical engineering.

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