03/24/1995 08:00:00

Bradford Sturtevant Appointed the Leipmann Professor of Aeronautics

PASADENA—Bradford Sturtevant, a Caltech professor of aeronautics, has been selected as the first person to occupy the Hans W. Liepmann Chair in Aeronautics. The Liepmann Chair was established in 1993 by the Boeing Company in recognition of Dr. Hans W. Liepmann, who has been a renowned member of Caltech's aeronautics faculty for more than five decades.

Sturtevant, who has been at Caltech as both a student and a professor for nearly forty years, specializes in the study of shock waves, which includes research into such varied phenomena as volcanic eruptions and pyroclastic flows, vapor explosions, and engine noise from motorcycles and airplanes. He has also served as the executive officer and the option representative for aeronautics at Caltech, and as chair of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

"It is a real pleasure for President Everhart and me to recognize Brad's outstanding contributions to Caltech and to his research fields with this professorship," said Paul Jennings, acting vice president for business and finance at Caltech, who, as provost, played a key role in Sturtevant's selection. "His appointment will reinforce Caltech's historical ties with Boeing, ties that Liepmann and others have spent decades building." Sturtevant earned his BE from Yale in 1955, and received both his MS in 1956 and his PhD in 1960 in aeronautics at Caltech. He joined Caltech's faculty in 1960 as a research fellow, was appointed assistant professor in 1962, and has been professor since 1971. He has served as a visiting instructor at institutions around the world, including Harvard University, where he was the Gordon McKay Visiting Lecturer on Fluid Mechanics in 1965, and the Institute for Aerospace Studies, Technical University Aachen, West Germany, where he was a visiting lecturer in 1982. Sturtevant also served as a visiting lecturer during 1983 in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Bangalore, India, and in 1991 was a visiting professor of geology at the University of Bristol, England.

Sturtevant is active in many professional organizations, including the American Physical Society, in which he served as the secretary-treasurer of the APS's Division of Fluid Dynamics. He is also a member of the Acoustical Society of America, the Society of Automotive Engineers, the academic honorary group Sigma Xi, and many other societies.

Liepmann, whom this new professorship honors, is Caltech's Theodore von Kármán Professor of Aeronautics, Emeritus. He first came to Caltech in 1939, and among the hundreds of Caltech students who have profited from his lectures and academic counsel is Boeing's past chairman and chief executive officer, Thornton A. Wilson. Today Boeing employs one of the largest concentrations of Caltech graduates anywhere in industry, with more than 90 alumni on staff. The company has consulted frequently with Liepmann and other Caltech aeronautics faculty on questions of aircraft design and has used the Institute's 10-foot wind tunnel in the design of many Boeing airplanes, including the B-29.

The establishment of the Liepmann Chair is the latest of many accolades that have come to Liepmann in the course of his long and distinguished career. These include the National Medal of Science and the Guggenheim Medal, both awarded in 1986; the National Medal of Technology in 1993; membership in the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and an award from the Caltech student body for excellence in teaching.

Written by John Avery