Year Inducted: 2023
Using his background as an engineer, educator, and researcher, Stuart R. Bell has advanced engineering and science workforce development in the state while sparking technical innovation that will leave a legacy on Alabama’s quality of life.
His time as the 29th president of The University of Alabama has seen tremendous growth in education and research opportunities, particularly in the science, technical, engineering, and math – or STEM – fields. His forward-looking strategy to advance the state’s flagship institution encourages talented students to explore careers that rely on STEM-related expertise here in Alabama and around the globe. His direction and advocacy for educational-focused research and economic development organized around UA’s strengths is part of moving Alabama forward
in key areas such as the automotive, aerospace, hydrological management, cybersecurity, and healthcare sectors.
Bell came to the University in 1986 as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering after earning his doctorate in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M University, where he also earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering and a bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering in 1981 and 1979, respectively. This 16-year stint at UA saw Bell expand his expertise in fuels for engines, innovative engine designs, and modeling of engine performance and processes. He led or co-led projects with federal departments of Transportation, Defense, and Energy as well as state agencies and companies. In 1995, he was named head of the UA Department of Mechanical Engineering.
During this time, Bell founded and was the first director of the Center for Advanced Vehicle Technologies, an interdisciplinary research center producing new generations of engineers and scientists. The CAVT is still an active research center that designs and tests the transportation technology driving the emerging economies of mobility and power.
After two positions as dean of engineering at the University of Kansas and as executive vice president and provost at Louisiana State University, Bell was selected to be UA president in 2015. In this role, he oversees more than 7,000 employees who educate and serve more than 38,000 students who earn more than 9,300 degrees annually. UA’s economic impact on the state approached $2.8 billion during the 2019-2020 academic year.
As president, Bell advocates for strong industrial and government partnerships that benefit students and the state, including in the areas of the emerging electrical vehicle market, in-space manufacturing, and manufacturing systems. UA has also added degrees in computer engineering, musical audio engineering, and cybersecurity during his tenure. He was influential in forming partnerships with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which selected UA for $360 million in support to lead a multi-institutional effort to translate water research into operations, and the U.S. Geological Survey to construct a new Hydrologic Instrumentation Facility on campus.
For his work, Bell was awarded the Society of Automotive Engineers’ Ralph Teetor Award for Outstanding Contributions to Research and Teaching and the T. Morris Hackney Faculty Leadership Award for the UA College of Engineering. He was also honored with the Richard S. Woodbury Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and was selected as a recipient of the Dwight Look College of Engineering Outstanding Alumni Award from Texas A&M.