Distinguished Alumni

Y.C.L. Susan Wu

Y.C.L. Susan Wu Ph.D. '63 (Aeronautics), Awarded 2013

Y. C. L. Susan Wu (PhD '63), for pioneering research and business entrepreneurship. As a researcher, Wu developed analytical models for magnetohydrodynamic power generation and performance. She then founded ERC Inc., a distinguished provider of scientific and engineering services supporting the nation's defense and space-exploration activities.

John W. Miles

B.S. '42 (Electrical Engineering) M.S. '43 (Aeronautics) M.S. '43 (Electrical Engineering) M.S. '44 (Aeronautical Engineering) Ph.D. '44 (Electrical Engineering), Awarded 1997

Currently research professor of applied mechanics and geophysics, John W. Miles has held a variety of positions at the University of California, San Diego, since joining its faculty in 1965. He was chairman of the applied mechanics ad engineering sciences department from 1968 to 1972; he also served as chairman of the academic senate (1977-78) and as vice chancellor, academic affairs (1980-83). Miles pursued both his undergraduate and graduate education at Caltech, completing his doctorate in 1944. From 1942 to 1945, he held positions at the General Electric Research Laboratory, the MIT Radiation Laboratory, and the Lockheed Aircraft Company. He also taught at Caltech (1943-44), UCLA (1945-61) and the Australian National University (1962-64) before assuming his post at UCSD. The recipient of two Fulbright and two Guggenheim fellowships, Miles has also been awarded the Timoshenko Medal of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Otto Laporte Prize of the American Physical Society. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Mechanics, and the AIAA. He has published some 375 articles in professional journals.

Louis G. Dunn

B.S. '36 (Aeronautics) M.S. '37 (Mechanical Engineering) M.S. '38 (Aeronautics) Ph.D. '40 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1974


Julian D. Cole

Coles Engineer '46 (Aeronautics) M.S. '46 (Aeronautics) Ph.D. '49 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1971

After receiving his PhD from Caltech in aeronautics in 1949, Julian Cole joined the aeronautics staff at CIT as a research fellow. He became full professor of aeronautics in 1959, and then became professor of applied mathematics in 1967. In 1969 he went to UCLA as professor of engineering, and in 1970 he was chairman of the mechanics and structures department there. He was a fellow of the American Physical Society, and a member of the council of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mechanics. Dr. Cole passed away in 1999.

Joseph V. Charyk

M.S. '43 (Aeronautics) Ph.D. '46 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1966

President, Communications Satellite Corporation

Satish Dhawan

Dhawan Engineer '49 (Aeronautics) Ph.D. '51 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1969

Director, Indian Institute of Science

Arthur E. Bryson

M.S. '49 (Aeronautics) Ph.D. '51 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1991

The Paul Pigott Professor of Engineering, Emeritus, at Stanford University, Arthur Bryson, Jr. received his MS in 1949 and his PhD in 1951, both in aeronautics. Previously he was a Navy aircraft maintenance officer in World War II, a paper-mill engineer, and a wind-tunnel engineer. His research in the the mechanics and control of aircraft, spacecraft, and robots led to the 1969 book Applied Optimal Control, coauthored with Y.C. Ho.

Richard D. Delauer

Engineer '50 (Aeronautics) Ph.D. '53 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1985

Richard D. DeLauer, at the time of being honored with this award was the president of Orion Group, Ltd., an aerospace and advanced technology consulting team. He was undersecretary of defense for research and engineering from May 1981 until December 1984. Prior to his appointment by President Reagan, DeLauer was executive vice president for TRW Inc.'s systems and energy activities. He joined TRW in 1958, following a 15-year career as a naval aeronautical engineering officer. In 1960 he was named director of TRW's Titan ICBM ballistic missile program, and by 1970 his responsibilities had grown to encompass the duties of executive vice president. He joined the board of directors in 1972. DeLauer was also a director of Cordura Corporation and the co-author of two books, Nuclear Rocket Propulsion and Fundamentals and Nuclear Flight, and served as visiting lecturer on nuclear rocketry UCLA.

Anthony J. Iorillo

B.S. '59 (Mechanical Engineering) M.S. '60 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1990

Mr. Iorillo was a senior vice president of Hughes Aircraft Company, and presided over the company's Space and Communications Group, responsible for the development and production of communications satellites and other space vehicles, spacecraft instrumentation, earth terminals, terrestrial communications equipment, and information systems. He also served as Chairman of the Board of American Mobile Satellite Corporation. He was the inventor of the Hughes Gyrostat satellite technique, which has been used in scores of communications satellite missions. For his work he received the 1970 Lawrence A. Hyland Patent Award and the Spacecraft Design Award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Benoit B. Mandelbrot

Mandelbrot M.S. '48 (Aeronautics) Engineer '49 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1988

Benoit B. Mandelbrot, IBM Fellow at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center, in the acknowledged creator of fractal geometry, a field of mathematics dealing with the irregular shapes of natural objects. After studying at Caltech, Mandelbrot completed work on his PhD in mathematics at the University of Paris in 1952. Dr. Mandelbrot's first positions were with the French Research Council, the School of Mathematics at the Institute for Advanced Study, and the University of Geneva. Immediately before joining IBM, he was a junior professor of applied mathematics at the University of Lille and of mathematical analysis at Ecole Polytechnique. A Fellow of the American Academy of Sciences and Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences, Mandelbrot was awarded the 1985 F. Barnard Medal by the US National Academy of Sciences and Columbia University, and the 1986 Franklin medal for Signal and Eminent Service in Science by the Franklin Institute of Philadelphia. He has been a Fellow of the Guggenheim Foundation, a Trumbull Lecturer at Yale, Samuel Wilks Lecturer at Princeton, Abraham Wald Lecturer at Columbia, Goodwin-Richards Lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania, and National Lecturer of Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society. Mandlebrot is the author of numerous articles and books, the best known being Les Objets Fractals, 1975 and 1984 (translated into Italian, Spanish, and Hungarian) and The Fractal Geometry of Nature, 1982 (translated into Japanese and German).

L. Eugene Root

Root M.S. '33 (Mechanical Engineering) M.S. '34 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1966

President, Lockheed Missiles and Space Company

George E. Solomon

M.S. '50 (Aeronautics) Ph.D. '53 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1983

George E. Solomon was executive vice president and general manager of the electronics and defense sector of TRW Inc., and later, executive vice president of Northrop Grumman Space Technologies. He began his association with Ramo-Wooldridge, forerunner of TRW, in 1954, while he was a research fellow at Caltech. Subsequently as a member of the technical staff he carried out research into the dynamic motion of re-entry bodies and on the theory of ablative heat shield cooling, which contributed to the successful design of the first U.S. Air Force ICBM. Solomon then served as director of systems research analysis, vice president and director of marketing and requirements analysis and in 1971 became vice president and general manager of TRW Systems Group, renamed TRW Defense and Space Systems Group.

Donald L. Turcotte

B.S. '54 (Mechanical Engineering) Ph.D. '58 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1999

After a year as assistant professor of aeronautics at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, Donald L. Turcotte joined the faculty of Cornell University. While initially in aerospace engineering, in 1973 he turned to the geological sciences. He is currently Maxwell Upson Professor of Engineering at Cornell, and he was chair of the university’s department of geological sciences from 1981 to 1990. The recipient of the Day Medal of the Geological Society of America, the Regents (New York State) Medal of Excellence, the Wegener Medal of the European Union of Geosciences, and the Whitten Medal of the American Geophysical Union, Turcotte is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Sciences. He has been an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow; a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow; a Kloos Scholar at Johns Hopkins University; the William Smith Lecturer of the Geological Society of London; a Christensen Fellow of St. Catherine’s College, Oxford; and a Visiting Fellow, Corpus Christi College, Oxford. His principal contributions to the earth sciences have been in the development of theories of mantle convection and geodynamic problems. Much of this work is set forth in his textbook (with Gerald Schubert) Geodynamics. He has also been a leader in applying the concepts of fractals and chaos to the earth sciences and is author of the textbook Fractals and Chaos in Geology and Geophysics. He is the author or coauthor of some 270 papers.

Francis H. Clauser

B.S. '34 (Physics) M.S. '35 (Mechanical Engineering) Ph.D. '37 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1966

Academic Vice Chancellor, University of California, Santa Cruz

Paul B. MacCready

MacCready M.S. '48 (Physics) Ph.D. '52 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1978

President, AeroVironment, Inc.

William F. Ballhaus

Ph.D. '47 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1978

Past President, Beckman Instruments, Inc.

Yuan-Cheng Fung

MacCready Ph.D. '48 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1994

Yuan-Cheng Bertram Fung is professor of bioengineering and applied mechanics, emeritus, at UC San Diego. He is the only researcher to have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine, a distinction that reflects his wide-ranging accomplishments in fields ranging from aeronautics to bioengineering, a field that he helped to pioneer in the 1950s. After earning his Caltech PhD, Fung spent 20 years on the Institute's aeronautics faculty, ultimately becoming a full professor, and dividing his research between solid and fluid mechanics. By 1958, he had begun to investigate the applications of these and other engineering areas to biomedical problems, an interest that led to his pioneering work in the field of biomechanics. He joined UC San Diego in 1966, with the responsibility of creating a bioengineering division there. He retired as professor emeritus in 1992. A prolific author and frequent consultant, Fung has published nearly 300 technical papers and several books, among them Introduction to the Theory of Aeroelasticity; A First Course in Continuum Mechanics; and a three-volume work, Biomechanics: Mechanical Properties of Living Tissues; Biodynamics: Circulation; and Biomechanics: Motion, Flow, Stress, and Growth.

Narendra K. Gupta

Gupta M.S. '70 (Aeronautics), Awarded 2004

Narendra (Naren) Gupta is the co-founder of Integrated Systems Inc., which later merged with another company to form Wind River, the dominant maker of software for such diverse computing devices as airplane radar systems and DVD players. He now serves as vice chairman of that company. Gupta also serves on the boards of a number of companies, including the Digital Link Corporation, a data communications and wide-area networking equipment manufacturer, TIBCO Software, Quick Eagle Networks, and the American India Foundation. Gupta was elected a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers in November 1991.

Stanley C. Pace

M.S. '49 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1987

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, General Dynamics Corporation

Allen E. Puckett

Ph.D. '49 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1970

Executive Vice President and Assistant General Manager, Hughes Aircraft Company, After receiving a PhD from Caltech, following BS and MS degrees at Harvard University, Allen Puckett launched a career in aerodynamics and research and development. He was the executive Vice President and Assistant General Manager of the Hughes Aircraft Company. His last position with the company was as Chairman and CEO. He served as a lecturer and technical consultant with Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory before joining Hughes in 1949. He was a recipient of the Lawrence Sperry Award from the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences.

Ozires Silva

Silva M.S. '66 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1992

Ozires Silva, internationally known as an authority on Brazilian aviation, was appointed that country's Minister of Infrastructure in 1990. Previously he was president of the board of the Brazilian Automotive Engineering Association and president of the advisory board of Embraer, the Brazilian aeronautics enterprise, where he was CEO for 17 years and chairman of the board for 7 years. He served as president of Petrobras, the national company devoted to oil exploration, production, refining, and distribution. He has earned multiple awards for outstanding service to the Brazilian military; for pioneering efforts in establishing the country's aeronautical industry; and for his work benefiting Brazil's foreign trade.

David W. Thompson

Thompson M.S. '78 (Aeronautics), Awarded 2009

David W. Thompson has been chairman and chief executive officer of Orbital Sciences Corporation since cofounding the company in 1982. The holder of a Harvard MBA in addition to his aeronautics degrees, Thompson has been interested in rockets since childhood, when he saw the first Sputnik in the night sky. One of America's leading space-related R&D and manufacturing companies, Orbital provides affordable space systems to commercial and government customers worldwide and has performed over 675 rocket launches and satellite deployments in support of commercial communications, Earth and space science, and the national defense. Before co-founding Orbital, Thompson served as special assistant to the president of Hughes Aircraft's Missile Systems Group, and as a project manager and engineer on advanced rocket engines at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. As a college student, he worked at JPL on the first Mars landings and on Space Shuttle projects at NASA's Langley Research Center and Johnson Space Center. Thompson's many honors include the National Medal of Technology, the National Air and Space Museum Trophy, the Arthur C. Clarke Lifetime Achievement Award, and the World Technology Award for Space. He has been named Industrialist of the Year by the state of Virginia, and High-Technology Entrepreneur of the Year. A member of the National Academy of Engineering and the International Academy of Astronautics, he is a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the American Astronautical Society, and the Royal Aeronautical Society. He has been elected president of the AIAA for 2009–2010.

Chia-Chiao Lin

Ph.D. '44 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1992

Chia-Chiao Lin is Institute Professor Emeritus at MIT, having served as Institute Professor from 1966 to 1987. He joined the MIT faculty in 1947 as associate professor of mathematics, and became a full professor in 1953. He was twice a member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton and also held positions at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and at Brown University. After 1962 his main research focus was astrophysical research, specifically the development of the density wave theory of galactic spirals.

Roddam Narasimha

Narasimha Ph.D. '61 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1986

Roddam Narasimha’s position before retirement was as director of the National Aeronautical Laboratory of India and professor of aerospace engineering at the Centre for Atmospheric Sciences of the Indian Institute of Science. Professor Narasimha has made outstanding and wide-ranging scientific contributions in fluid mechanics and aerodynamics. He is an internationally known figure in turbulence research and is also responsible for the generation of new programs in geophysical fluid dynamics and the atmospheric sciences, and has received many national and international awards. He was a Clark B. Millikan Visiting Professor at Caltech, and was a Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Scholar.

William R. Sears

Sears Ph.D. '38 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1988

William R. Sears, professor in the aerospace and chemical engineering department, University of Arizona, is known as one of the giants in the history of American aeronautics. A graduate of the University of Minnesota in 1934, Sears continued his studies at Caltech with Theodore von Karman. From 1937 to 1941, Dr. Sears served as instructor and later as assistant professor at Caltech, then left the Institute to join the staff of Northrop Aircraft Corporation as chief of aerodynamics, a position he held from 1941 to 1946. Under his direction emerged a sequence of Northrop military aircraft, the best known of which were the P-61 Black Widow fighter and the Northrop Flying Wing. At the end of World War II, Sears left Northrop to found the Graduate School of Aeronautical Engineering at Cornell University. This organization quickly became recognized as one of the two or three foremost institutions for graduate education in aeronautical and aerospace engineering. During his period at Cornell, Dr. Sears was awarded almost every distinguished lectureship in aeronautics offered in the United States and Europe, including the Lanchester memorial Lecture of the Royal Aeronautical Society, the oldest established lectureship in aeronautics. It was also during this period that Dr. Sears was elected to both the National Academy of Sciences and the national Academy of Engineering. In 1974 Dr. Sears accepted his post at the University of Arizona, where he continued work on a self-adapting wind-tunnel.

Hsue-Shen Tsien

Tsien Ph.D. '39 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1979

Hsue-Shen Tsien, the first director of Caltech's Guggenheim Jet Propulsion Center, was later chairman of the Institute of Mechanics of the People's Republic of China's National Academy of Sciences, in Beijing. Born in Shanghai, Tsien received his BS in mechanical engineering from Chiao-Tung University. In 1935 he came to the United States, where he earned his MS from MIT. At Caltech he worked closely with Theodore von Karman on supersonic flight and jet propulsion and was awarded a PhD in aeronautics in 1939. He continued at Caltech as a research fellow, assistant professor, and associate professor, until he moved to MIT as their youngest full professor. During World War II Tsien was again associated with von Karman when he served as consultant on jet propulsion to Aerojet and the Scientific Advisory Board of the Air Forces. After the war the Air Forces commended him for his "invaluable contribution" to victory. In 1949 the Guggenheim Foundation offered him the directorship at one of their two research centers (at Caltech and Princeton) and in choosing Caltech, he became the Goddard Professor of Jet Propulsion. Tsien returned to China in 1955 and in that year became a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Tsien passed away on October 31, 2009.

T. A. Wilson

M.S. '48 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1968

Executive Vice President, Boeing Company

Frank Borman

Borman M.S. '57 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1966

Frank Borman earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, in 1950 and a Master of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Caltech. Borman is internationally known as a pioneer in the exploration of space, a veteran of Gemini 7 and Commander of the 1968 Apollo 8 Mission, the first team of American astronauts to circle the moon. A career Air Force officer, he was a fighter pilot, an experimental test pilot and an assistant professor of Thermodynamics and Fluid Mechanics at West Point. In 1969 he became a special advisor to Eastern Airlines and in 1975 he was elected President and Chief Operating Officer. He was named Chief Executive Officer in 1975 and Chairman of the Board in 1976. Borman received the Congressional Space Medal of Honor from the President of the United States, and in 1993 Colonel Borman was inducted the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.