Kumar is recognized around the world for his groundbreaking work on the development of autonomous robots and on biologically inspired algorithms for collective behaviour, the school said announcing his appointment.
During a scholarly leave in 2012-14, he served in the White House as assistant director for robotics and cyber physical systems in the Office of Science and Technology Policy.
“I am honored and excited to serve as the next dean of Penn Engineering,” Kumar said.
“Technology will play a key role in addressing global challenges in the coming decade, from health care to security to sustainability and beyond.”
“Penn Engineering, with a distinguished faculty and state-of-the-art facilities, is uniquely positioned to make the scientific advances required to develop these technologies and to train students to create innovative solutions to the problems confronting our society,” he said.
“Vijay’s superb academic judgment, compelling vision for the future of engineering and applied science, and proven track record as a leader and administrator make him the perfect choice to lead Penn Engineering,” Penn President Amy Gutmann said.
“Vijay is one of the most recognized figures in his field and has been instrumental in the development of extraordinary new technologies,” he said.
“That experience will be invaluable in leading the School through what we know will be dynamic years ahead.”
Kumar joined the Penn Engineering faculty in 1987 and currently serves as UPS Foundation Professor with appointments in the departments of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, Computer and Information Science and Electrical and Systems Engineering.
As deputy dean for education in 2008-12, he was instrumental in the creation of several innovative master’s degree programmes.
Earlier, he served in 2005-08 as chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, in 2000-04 as deputy dean for research and in 1998-2004 as director of the General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception, or GRASP, Laboratory, a multidisciplinary robotics and perception lab.
The author of more than 400 refereed articles and papers and more than 20 books and book chapters, he is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.