CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Marcello R. Napolitano, a mechanical and aerospace engineering professor at West Virginia University, was named the Faculty Merit Foundation's 2011 Professor of the Year at the West Virginia Culture Center Tuesday.Napolitano, who has been with WVU since 1990, teaches at the university's Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.With the recognition, Napolitano received a $10,000 cash award. "Dr. Napolitano is certainly one of our very best," WVU President Jim Clements said in a university statement. "I am extremely pleased that he is being recognized for his outstanding teaching and research as well as his dedication over the years. The comments from his students say it all, and underscore the huge difference our faculty members make in the lives of our students and the quality of [WVU]."
Napolitano received his doctorate in aerospace engineering from Oklahoma State University and his master's degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Naples Federico II, in Italy. Along with his colleague, Dr. Mario Perhinschi, he developed the unique MAE Flight Simulation Laboratory at WVU.
The center is used for teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in the area of flight dynamics, flight simulations and flight controls, and determining the many different classes of failures on aircraft, according to a WVU news release. The technologies are part of full flight test development programs within NASA and the Air Force.Jason Gross, a former WVU student body president and currently a NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory researcher at California Institute of Technology, took Napolitano's classes at WVU."His enthusiasm, in-depth knowledge of the subject matter and willingness to challenge me quickly made his courses my favorite," Gross said, according to the news release.Gregory P. Noone, a political science and law professor at Fairmont State University, was named the runner-up at Tuesday's event. The three other finalists were: Phil O. McClung, a professor of social sciences at WVU-Parkersburg, Yi Charlie Chen, who teaches biology at Alderson-Broaddus College, and Laura H. Clayton, a professor of nursing education at Shepherd University. The Faculty Merit Foundation was created in 1984 to provide a means to recognize and reward outstanding innovation and creativity among the professors at West Virginia's public and private colleges and universities.