News & Events


EAS Remembers Jakob van Zyl


Jakob van Zyl, Senior Faculty Associate in Electrical Engineering and Aerospace, passed away on August 26, 2020 at the age of 63. He came to Caltech in 1982 and received his M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering in 1983 and 1986, respectively. He joined JPL in 1986 and retired in 2019 as the Director of Solar System Exploration. He was world-renowned for his research in imaging radar polarimetry. He made pioneering contributions to the design and development of many synthetic aperture radar (SAR) systems, including SIR-C, SRTM, AIRSAR, TOPSAR, and GeoSAR. He held management roles at JPL including, Director for Astronomy and Physics (2006-2011), Associate Director of Project Formulation and Strategy (2011-2015), and Director of Solar System Exploration (2016-2019). He received many honors and awards, including an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa in 2015 for his contributions to space missions, for being a good ambassador for Africa, and for inspiring young scientists and engineers in his home continent. Over the last two decades, he taught EE/Ae 157 Introduction to the Physics of Remote Sensing. He contributed in numerous ways to promote interactions between EAS and JPL.

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EAS Remembers Yuan-Cheng "Bert" Fung


Yuan-Cheng "Bert" Fung passed away on December 15th, 2019, at the age of 100. Dr. Fung received his Ph.D. (1948) in Aeronautics from Caltech and served on the GALCIT faculty until 1966. He then joined the faculty at the University of California, San Diego where he founded the Bioengineering program. He made ground-breaking contributions to our understanding of the mechanics of living tissues and is known as the father of Biomechanics. He was an elected member of all three branches of the National Academies: Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Dr. Fung received Caltech’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1994. Among his many honors, he was awarded the National Medal of Science in 2000. [Full obituary, UCSD]

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Joel (J.N.) Franklin Passes Away


Joel (J.N.) Franklin, Professor of Applied Mathematics, Emeritus, passed away on November 18, 2017 at the age of 87. Professor Franklin joined Caltech in 1957 and worked closely with Gilbert McCann, professor of applied science, who was one of the early champions of computing at Caltech (and inventor of an analog computer in 1946). Professor Dan Meiron recalls, "Joel excelled as a scholar and researcher … if any of us in applied math—and the Institute in general—had any questions about matrix theory, linear programming, etc. we could consult with Joel and he always pointed us to the relevant results often connected to work he had done in the past." [Caltech story]

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Professor Anatol Roshko Passes Away


Anatol Roshko (MS '47, PhD '52), Theodore von Kármán Professor of Aeronautics, Emeritus, at Caltech, passed away on January 23, 2017. Known for his research in several areas of gas dynamics and fluid mechanics, Professor Roshko made contributions to problems of separated flow, bluff-body aerodynamics, shock-wave boundary-layer interactions, shock-tube technology, and the structure of turbulent shear flows. With pioneering aerodynamics researcher Hans Liepmann, he coauthored the widely used textbook Elements of Gasdynamics, published in 1956. [Caltech story]

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Philip G. Saffman Graduate Fellowship Established


Mrs. Ruth Saffman, in memory of her late husband, Theodore von Kármán Professor Emeritus, Philip G. Saffman (1931-2008), has established the Philip G. Saffman Endowed Graduate Fellowship in Engineering and Applied Science in the area of mechanics. "Philip Saffman was one of the leading figures in fluid mechanics and a giant in the field of vortex dynamics and its applications... His work continues to motivate and influence contemporary research in fluid dynamics, which attests to the power of his pioneering ideas." Said EAS Division Chair G. Ravichandran.  The first recipient of the Saffman Fellowship is GALCIT graduate student Nicholas White.

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Professor Frank Marble Passes Away


Frank E. Marble, Richard L. and Dorothy M. Hayman Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Professor of Jet Propulsion, Emeritus, passed away on August 11, 2014 at age 96. He has made pioneering contributions to combustion in jet propulsion systems, flame stabilization, and propagation of acoustic waves. [Caltech Obituary] [Frank E. Marble Lecture in Aerospace]

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GALCIT Alumnus Allen E. Puckett Passes Away


Allen E. Puckett (PhD ’49 Aeronautics), pioneering aerospace engineer and chairman emeritus of Hughes Aircraft Co., passed away on March 31, 2014. He was one of the engineers who made Hughes Aircraft into the United States’ leading defense electronics firm which dominated in the markets for air defense, radar systems, tactical missiles and satellites. He began his PhD in 1941 at Caltech at the invitation of Theodore von Kármán. While at GALCIT he helped design a new supersonic wind tunnel, the first of its kind in the country. Later, he produced the calculations that led to the development of delta wing theory, which predicts the aerodynamics of supersonic aircraft and continues to be applied in the production of modern aircraft. [LA Times Obituary]

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Professor Coles Passes Away


Donald E. Coles, Professor of Aeronautics, Emeritus, passed away on May 2, 2013 at the age of 89. Professor Coles made pioneering contributions towards our understanding of boundary layers, turbulent shear flows, bluff-body aerodynamics, and novel experimental methods in fluid dynamics. He was a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of both the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the American Physical Society. In 2011 he was honored with the Donald Coles Lecture in Aerospace. He remained active till his passing, working on a book on Turbulent Shear Flow that is very near completion. [Caltech Obituary]

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Alumnus Launches Antares Rocket


Aerospace alumnus (MS ‘78) and Caltech Board of Trustee member David W. Thompson and his team at Orbital Sciences Corporation successfully launched the first Antares Rocket on Sunday April 21, 2013. With this rocket Orbital is introducing USA's newest medium-class space launch vehicle. When asked about the experience Thompson commented, "next to GALCIT exams, launching big rockets for the first time is about as hard as things get!" [ENGenious Profile] [Caltech Feature] [Orbital Release]

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Professor Clauser Passes Away


Francis H. Clauser, Clark Blanchard Millikan Professor of Engineering, Emeritus, passed away on Sunday, March 3, at 99 years of age. Professor Clauser, a Caltech alumnus (PhD '37), served as Chair of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science from 1969 to 1974. Upon stepping down as Chair he remained the Millikan Professor until his retirement. Although he retired in 1980, he maintained a vital presence on the Caltech campus, particularly at the Athenaeum round table, until shortly before he passed. [Caltech Release]

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