John T. Wen

Head, Industrial & Systems Engineering, Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering

John T. Wen is currently the Head of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Professor in the Department of Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering with a joint appointment in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering. His research interest lies in the modeling and control of dynamical systems with applications to precision motion, robot manipulation, thermal management, lighting systems and materials processing.

He received B.Eng. from McGill University in 1979, M.S. from University of Illinois in 1981, and Ph.D. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1985, all in Electrical Engineering.

From 1981-1982, he was a system engineer at Fisher Controls developing plant-wide coordination control system for pulp and paper plants. From 1985-1988, he was a member of technical staff at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory developing modeling and control algorithms for large space structures and space robots.Since 1988, he has been with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where he is currently the Head of Industrial and Systems Engineering and a Professor in the Department of Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering with a joint appointment in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering. From 2005-2013, he served as the Director of the Center for Automation Technologies and Systems (CATS), a New York State designated Center for Advanced Technology.  In 2009, he successfully led the ten-year re-designation of the CATS by the New York State.  During his tenure, CATS helped industry partners generate over $340M of economic impact in the state and over 900 new and retained jobs.

From June-Dec 2009, he served as the Interim Director of the NSF Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center (ERC).  During this period, he successfully led the first annual ERC review and recruited a permanent director to the center.   

He was the Rensselaer representative on the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) 2.0 operating committee from 2013-2014. He led the Rensselaer participation in the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Institute, a Manufacturing USA Institute awarded by the Department of Defense in 2017.  He serves on the ARM Technical Advisory Council and co-leads with FuzeHub the ARM Mid-Atlantic Regional Robotics Innovation Collaborative (RRIC).  

He is the co-inventor of the Adaptive Scanning Optical Microscope (ASOM), which was licensed to Thorlabs in 2007.  The commercialized version of ASOM won the 2007 Laser Focus World Innovation Award in the Conference in Lasers and Electro Optics (CLEO).  He was awarded the 2013 IEEE Control Systems Society Transition to Practice Award.

He served as an Oversea Assessor for the Chinese Academy of Sciences from 2004-2009, and a Senior Visiting Scientist of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) in 1997.  He has been an IEEE Fellow since 2001.


Ph.D. Computer and Systems Engineering (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1985), M.S. Electrical Engineering (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1981), B.Eng. Electrical Engineering (McGill University, 1979)

Research Focus
  • Robotics
  • Control systems
  • Thermal management
  • Mechatronics
Select Works
  • Y. Peng, D.S. Carabis, J.T. Wen (2018). Collaborative Manipulation with Multiple Dual-Arm Robots under Human Guidance. International Journal of Intelligent Robotics and Applications, 2(2), pp. 252–266, 2018.
  • H. Bai and J.T. Wen (2018). Asymptotic Synchronization of Phase Oscillators with a Single Input. IEEE Transaction on Automatic Control, June, 2018
  • C. Okaeme, S. Mishra, J.T. Wen (2018). Passivity-Based Thermohygrometric Control in Buildings. IEEE Transaction on Control Systems Technology. 2018.
  • W. Qiao, J.T. Wen, A. Julius (2017). Entrainment Control of Phase Dynamics. IEEE Transaction on Automatic Control, 62(1), Jan, 2017, pp. 445-450.
  • Z. Yang, D.T. Pollock, J.T. Wen (2017). Optimization and Predictive Control of a Vapor Compression Cycle under Transient Pulse Heat Load. International Journal of Refrigeration, 75, Mar. 2017, pp. 14-25.
  • C. Zheng, G.P.S. Balasubramanian, Y. Tan, A.M. Maniatty, R. Hull and J.T. Wen (2017). Simulation, Microfabrication and Control of a Micro-Heater Array. IEEE Transaction on Mechatronics, 22(4), Aug, 2017, pp. 1914-1919.
  • L. Lu, J.T. Wen (2017). Human-Directed Coordinated Control of Assistive Mobile Manipulator. International Journal of Intelligent Robotics and Applications, 1(1), Feb, 2017, pp.104-120.
  • D.T. Pollock, Z. Yang, J.T. Wen (2015). Dryout avoidance control for multi-evaporator vapor compression cycle cooling. Applied Energy, Dec, 2015. pp. 266-285.