The University of California, Santa Cruz, has appointed Khalid Al-Ali to be executive director of the University Affiliated Research Center (UARC), effective January 25, 2010.

Al-Ali is currently director of research at Carnegie Mellon University's Silicon Valley campus. As executive director of UARC, he will oversee the center's research contract with NASA and special relationship with the NASA Ames Research Center.

Established in 2003 as a contract between NASA and UC managed by UCSC, UARC is a key element of UCSC's presence in Silicon Valley and the campus's growing partnerships with NASA Ames. Research at the center focuses on five technology areas: aerospace systems (which includes air traffic management and rotorcraft research), Earth sciences, information sciences, space sciences, and nanotechnology.

Al-Ali will oversee 140 scientists, engineers, and administrative staff affiliated with the UARC contract. He succeeds William Berry, now president of University Associates - Silicon Valley, a partnership between UCSC and other academic institutions that is developing a sustainable community for education and research at NASA Research Park.

"We are very fortunate that we are able to hire someone of Khalid's experience and expertise. We look forward to Khalid being part of our dynamic relationship with NASA Ames," said Martin Chemers, vice provost for Silicon Valley Initiatives at UCSC.

Al-Ali has deep expertise in mechanical, electrical, and aerospace engineering and has led several major NASA research projects involving advanced aircraft and spacecraft technologies, intelligent avionics, novel power systems, planetary rovers and robots, spacecraft, and autonomous exploratory vehicles for Lunar, Martian, and Antarctic missions. He founded the Carnegie Mellon Innovations Laboratory at NASA Research Park, directing its activities to create advanced technologies for compact, highly capable mobile autonomous vehicles covering ground, air, and space operations.

Al-Ali earned a B.S. in mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and a Ph.D. in mechanical and electrical engineering at UC Berkeley.