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Memorial Tributes, Volume 11
RENE HARCOURT MILLER
Elected in 1968
“For aircraft engineering, especially helicopters, other vertical flight vehicles,and supersonic transports.”
BY JACK L. KERREBROCK
RENE HARCOURT MILLER died on January 28, 2003, at the age of 86. A consummate practicing aerospace engineer, Miller was also an enthusiastic educator dedicated to introducing young people to the joys of creation in aerospace engineering. Boundlessly enthusiastic, he transmitted his love of the process of creation of new aerospace systems to his students and to his peers.
Miller was born in Tenafly, New Jersey, in 1916, but attended grammar school and high school in France, where he lived with his mother and stepfather. He entered Cambridge University at 16 and received a B.A. in 1937 and an M.A. in 1956. Over his lifetime, he was successful in a wide range of increasingly responsible roles, beginning at the Glenn L. Martin Company and McDonnell Aircraft Corporation, where he participated in the design of some of the first jet-powered fighters for the U.S. Navy. He then did pioneering work on the design of helicopters at Kaman Aircraft, where, while on leave from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he became vice president of engineering.
When he returned to MIT, he dedicated himself to transmitting his knowledge and his attitudes to generations of students. He advanced through the academic ranks from assistant professor in 1944 to head of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics in 1968 and H.N. Slater Professor of Flight Transportation. Miller founded the MIT Flight Transportation Labora-