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Elected in 1979

“For leadership and research in kinematics and design of mechanisms.”


FERDINAND FREUDENSTEIN, longtime Columbia University mechanical engineering professor who is considered the father of modern kinematics in America, died on March 30, 2006, at the age of 79.

Ferdinand Freudenstein was born into a Jewish family, on May 12, 1926, in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. When Ferdinand was 10 years old, he, his parents, and two sisters fled the Nazis for safety in Holland. In the spring of 1937, after six months in Amsterdam, the family moved to England, where they joined his brother, who was studying there. They lived in London during the Blitz, moved briefly to Cambridge, and then spent several years in Llandudno, North Wales. During this period his father and brother, were sent into exile in Australia, since the British government regarded all adult male German citizens, even victims of Nazi anti-Semitism, as enemy aliens.

In 1942, when he was 16 years old, Ferdinand, his mother, and one sister sailed on an old British cargo boat from England to Trinidad. They remained there for six weeks until a distant cousin arranged for their visas to the United States. They arrived in New York harbor in March 1942. Ferdinand had a high school equivalency certificate from Wales and was able to enter college at New York University. He spent two years studying there and then at age 18 joined the U.S. Army.

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