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RAYMOND L. BISPLINGHOFF 1917-1985 BY H. GUYFORD STEVER RAYMOND L. BISPLINGHOFF, an internationally distinguished aeronautical engineer, who was renowned for his teaching, research, engineering writing, ant! institutional leaclership in universities, government, and industry, died on March 5, 1985, of cancer. Before his death, the last of his many clistin- guished posts was director and senior vice-president of re- search for Tyco Laboratories. Raymond Bisplinghoff's per- sonal integrity, his professional competence, energy, and thoroughness, and his sense of the important were qualities on which he built his life. He also imbued many students, colleagues, family, anct friends with these same qualities. Highlights from his numerous anct varied accomplish- ments would certainly include Raymond's research, profes- sional papers, and textbooks, which were and are preemi- nent in the fielcis of aeroelasticity, structures, ant! structural dynamics; his academic administrative work at the Massachu- setts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of Missouri at RolIa; his career-Ion" contribution to the U.S. military services, first as an officer in World War IT and later as an adviser and leader of research programs; and his ex- ecutive service at the National Aeronautics and Space Ad- ministration (NASA) in the 1960s and the National Science Founclation (NSF) in the 1970s. The son of a flour mill proprietor, Raymond Bisplinghoff 37
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38 MEMORIAL TRIBUTES was born on February 7, 1917, in Hamilton, Ohio, where he lived with his parents through his high school years. His stay at the University of Cincinnati, where he spent seven years earning an aeronautical engineering degree and a master's degree in physics and serving as a graduate research fellow in X-ray defection, resulted! in the beginning of a practical engineer's life for Bisplinghoff. For it was cluring this period that he also worked in a student cooperative program for two and one-half years at Aeronca Aircraft Corporation investi- gating the stress analysis, (resign, aerodynamics, and flight testing of aircraft. The onset of World War Il interrupted Bisplinghoff's pur- suit of a Ph.D. in physics at the University of Cincinnati. He server! a short stint at the U.S. Army Air Corps' Wright Field working on aircraft flutter and engine vibration. This assign- ment was followed by three years of service as a naval officer assigned to the Bureau of Aeronautics in Washington, D.C. Raymond Bisplinghoff's aeronautical engineering experi- ence was rapidly broaclene(1 during these three years with the navy. He is remembered even today by the old-timers in the aircraft industry who went to him often to exchange views on problems of aircraft structures, loacis, and dynam- ics. During this same period of wartime service, Ray married Ruth Doherty of Cincinnati. They later had two sons, Ross and Ron. Because teaching was one of his favorite activities, he was delighted when, following World War II, MIT gave him an · · ~ . · ~ appointment as an assistant professor in aeronautlca engl- neering. He repaid this honor with sixteen years of distin- guishec! service: two years as an assistant professor, four as an associate professor, and ten as a full professor. Ray's real contribution cluring his MIT stay, however, was the renewecI life anct vitality given to the subject of aeronautical engineer- ing through his leaclership in teaching, research, and writing and (departmental management. It was also in this perio that Bisplinghoff was principal coauthor (with his four stu- clents- later professors and colleagues Holt Ashley, Robert
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RAYMOND L. BISPLINGHOFF 39 L. Halfman, James W. Mar, and Theodore H. H. Pian) of three exceptional textbooks: Aeroelasticity (Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 19551; Principles of Aeroelasticity (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 19611; and Statics of Deformable Solids (Rea(ling, Mass.: AcJclison-Wesley, 1 9651. While at MIT, Bisplinghoff also showed that he did not like unfinished tasks. He took a leave of absence to finish his doc- toral studies and received his Ph.D. from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in 1957. Bisplinghoff authored and coauthored many research pa- pers and established himself as a preeminent expert in the fields of aircraft structures anct structural dynamics. Flutter and dynamic response, especially those resulting from the gust loacting of aircraft wings, were intriguing subjects dur- ing the 1950s. Bisplinghoff contributed substantially to the solution of these ant! other vexing problems faced by aircraft designers. During this period, he was a frequent consultant to the aircraft industry. Certainly one of Bisplinghoff's greatest gifts to the field of aeronautics and later to the aerospace profession was his role in the education of numerous students who went on to lead- ership posts in industry, government, and other universities. Ray was more than their teacher, anc! they went on to be more than his students, becoming colleagues, lifelong friends, anti, not surprisingly, his great admirers. He helped some of them in their business connections and one in par- ticular, Lawrence Levy, with the foundation of Alliect Re- search Associates. With one of his colleagues, H. Guyford Stever, Bisplinghoff conducted an extensive three-year re- search program on the effects of nuclear blasts on flying air- craft; their studies included participation in the Eniwetok Atoll bomb tests in 1951 and 1952. In 1962 Ray Bisplinghoff broadened his engineering inter- ests ant] increaser! his administrative responsibilities by tak- ing a leave of absence from MIT for four years to serve as an assistant administrator of NASA. While at NASA, he lect the agency's program in advanced research and technology and J J
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40 MEMORIAL TRIBUTES held a post that was key to the progress of aerospace engi- neering. Later, Ray became a special assistant to NASA ad- ministrator lames Webb. Although he enjoyed these four years and contributed mightily to NASAs achievements, the attraction of MIT continuccI, and he returned to succeec! Charles Stark Draper as heac! of the Department of Aero- nautics anti Astronautics. In these early stages of the U.S. space program, MIT's "Course Sixteen" (aeronautical engineering clepartment) was a busy place, particularly for guidance and control, a held that played an important role in developing the equipment for the Apollo moon landing project. Bisplinghoff's close ties to NASA made his leadership of the (lepartment very effec- tive. He was personally involved in the planning efforts for many of the Apollo missions (nos. 8, 9, 10, Il. and 121. His contributions thus spanner! the period that saw flights circling the moon to those that successfully lan(led on it. Bis- plinghoff's last two years at MIT, from 1968 to 1970, were spent as clean of the School of Engineering. He subsequently left again for government service in Washington. As (leputy (Erector of NSF from 1970 to 1974, Ray Bis- plinghoff ma(le outstanding contributions to the foun(la- tion's programs. At that time, NSF was under pressure from both the White House and Congress to strengthen its contri- bution to applied science and engineering. The agency was then and still is principally a sponsor of basic scientific re- search, but in the late 1960s ant! early 1970s some govern- ment leaclers were beginning to recognize the early signs of a loss in the competitive strength of U.S. industries vis-a-vis their foreign counterparts. In these confusing times, NSF was asked to strengthen engineering research and its appli- cation of newly emerging science to useful technologies. As deputy director of NSF, Ray served with director Wil- liam McElroy and later with Ray's former MIT colleague Guy Stever. In this position, he took the lead in strengthening the NSF Division of Engineering (now the Directorate for Engi- neering) and in establishing the RANN (Research Applier! to
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RAYMOND L. BISPLINGHOFF 41 National Neects) program. Many of the most effective of our current governmental programs to increase U.S. interna- tional competitiveness, such as the cooperative industry- academic research centers, grew out of the Fleas and exper- iments of those clays. Another major package of applied research begun at that time was the solar ant! renewable energy program. NSF car- ried the program for several years, expanding its budget from $l million to $50 million annually. It was later trans- ferred to the Energy Research and Development Agency (now the Department of Energy). In 1974 Bisplinghoff was again attracted to a top academic administrative post, the chancellorship of the University of Missouri, RolIa campus. Then, in 1977 Bisplinghoff became director and vice-president for research at Tyco Laborato- ries. In this position, he ctirectecl the variec! research and de- velopment efforts of the laboratories, one of which was a large program in solar energy materials, an outgrowth of the work he had led at NSF. While working at Tyco, he still found time to teach a winter course in aeroelasticity at the Univer- sity of Floricla. Bisplinghoff retired from this post the year he died. As he traveler! along the fruitful path of his half century in engineering, Ray undertook myriad part-time jobs. One of the most significant was as chairman of the Scientific AcI- visory Board of the U.S. Air Force from 1979 to 1982. Yet that position was only representative of many such tasks for numerous government departments and universities. Everywhere he servect, he was richly honored. He received the Exceptional Civilian Service Medal from the U.S. Air Force, the Distinguished Service Award from NSF, the Ex- traorctinary Service Medal from the Federal Aviation Admin- istration, the Distinguished Service Medal from NASA, and an honorary doctorate from the University of Cincinnati. He also received numerous medals and awards for his profes- sional engineering work, including the Godfrey L. Cabot and the Sylvanus Reed awards.
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42 MEMORIAL TRIBUTES He was frequently invited to prepare distinguished ad- dresses, including the Wright Brothers Lecture and the The- odore van Karman Lecture. In addition to membership in the National Academy of Engineering since 1965, Bispling- hoff was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was also an honorary fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society. Most of all, Ray will be remembered by his many friends and colleagues for his thorough, professional engineering approach to his many jobs, a practice in which he had no superior.
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Representative terms from entire chapter: