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47th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting Including The New Horizons Forum and Aerospace Exposition AIAA 2009-1164

5 - 8 January 2009, Orlando, Florida

A History of Aerospace Engineering at the Polytechnic

Institute of Brooklyn
Pasquale M. Sforza1
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-6250

Aeronautics and aerospace degree programs at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, which,
through several name changes, still has generally been known as Brooklyn Poly, covered
the 60 year period staring in 1940 and involved faculty members and students that have had
a strong influence on the development of the field. The origins of the program and the
contributions of major aerospace figures like Antonio Ferri, Nicholas Hoff, Paul Libby,
Martin Bloom, and Joseph Kempner, to name a few, are discussed. The nature of the
undergraduate and graduate programs that flourished during the period 1940-2000, along
with the research activities that motivated them are described. The effects of the rapid
growth of aerospace activities on the structure of educational programs and the impact on
students who went on to be pivotal figures in the field are discussed.

I. The First Period, 1940 -1950

The Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn was founded in 1853 and came to be popularly known as Brooklyn Poly as it
grew in international reputation. Although there have been permutations in the name over the years it will be
referred to here by the name by which it was best known, Brooklyn Poly. The Department of Aeronautical
Engineering was established in September 1940 and the first undergraduate degrees were awarded at the June 1941
commencement exercises while the first graduate degrees were awarded the following year. Prior to 1940, students
interested in aeronautics were offered an aeronautical option in the mechanical engineering curriculum. This option
consisted of four courses: Theoretical Aerodynamics, Applied Aerodynamics, Aerodynamics Laboratory, and
Structures and Airplane Design. When it was formed, the Department of Aeronautical Engineering had but two
professors on its faculty: R. Paul Harrington, the first department head, an aerodynamicist who earned his doctorate
at the University of Michigan under Arnold Keuthe, and Hans Reissner, from the University of Berlin, an expert in
aeronautics and engines who built and flew the first all metal airplane in Germany in 1913. They were joined by
Nicholas J. Hoff who came to the department as an instructor. He was a structural stability expert who had graduated
from the Polytechnic Institute in Zurich, Switzerland, and then came to the United States in 1939 to pursue a
doctorate under Stephen Timoshenko at Stanford. He completed his dissertation while teaching at Brooklyn Poly
and was awarded the Ph.D. in 1942, whereupon he was promoted to assistant professor. These three outstanding
professors formed a nucleus which attracted new faculty members during the latter part of this period: Shao-Wen
Yuan, Paul Lieber, Morris Morduchow, and Paul Libby, among others.

Brooklyn Polys campus was situated in the Borough Hall section of Brooklyn, not far from the Brooklyn Bridge.
The student body in the new department consisted of four or five seniors who had started their studies in other
engineering departments, 30 sophomores and juniors who likewise had started out in other departments, and about
an equal number of entering freshmen. The only laboratory housed a low-speed wind tunnel, a variety of low-speed
test equipment, models, and instruments. In this first decade of its existence the major structures research emphasis
was on plastic analysis of structures and on theoretical and experimental investigations of temperature distributions
and thermal stresses in aircraft structural components. Several years later the graduate program was expanded and
Hoffs primary interest in applied mechanics was instrumental in broadening the name of the department to the
Department of Aeronautical Engineering and Applied Mechanics. In 1950 Harrington left Brooklyn Poly, going first
to Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute, and then to the University of Cincinnati, ultimately becoming dean of
engineering there. Hoff, whose work on aerospace structures1 was increasingly well-received, was then appointed to
succeed Harrington as Head of Brooklyn Poly's Department of Aeronautical Engineering and Applied Mechanics.
Professor, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, PO Box 116250, sforzapm@ufl.edu, Associate
Fellow AIAA

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Copyright 2009 by Pasquale M. Sforza. Published by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc., with permission.
II. The Second Period, 1951-1972

With Harrington gone, Hoff realized the need for recruiting a senior faculty member in aerodynamics or fluid
mechanics and several prospective candidates declined his offer. In retrospect this was a blessing because in 1951
Hoff was able to attract Antonio Ferri, another protg of Theodore von Karman, to the Brooklyn Poly faculty. At
the time Ferri was being wooed by both Princeton and Purdue, but for some reason, and luckily for Brooklyn Poly,
neither appealed to him. Ferris appearance marked the start and growth of the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn
Aerodynamics Laboratory (PIBAL) with its sophisticated high speed wind tunnel facilities - the most advanced
installation at a university in its day. Ferri was trained at the University of Rome, receiving doctorates in both
electrical and aeronautical engineering. In 1937 he was appointed Head of the Supersonic Wind Tunnel at
Guidonia, Italy, the first supersonic wind tunnel put into operation and also the largest until 1942. In 1940 he was
made Head of the Aerodynamics Branch of the Direzione Superiore Studi ed Esperienze and an Associate Professor
at the University of Rome. In World War II, the wind tunnels he built were taken to Germany and the Italian
government drafted him to work on the first jet engine for that countrys air force. Ferri joined the underground and
became the leader of a partisan guerilla brigade. In 1944, OSS operative (and former Major League baseball catcher)
Moe Berg was sent to Italy to bring Ferri to the United States, to assist with wind tunnel testing of war planes2,3. He
was taken aboard a U.S. submarine, technically kidnapped, but he went willingly, according to his daughter
Rosemary Hawke. He was assigned to the NACA Langley Research Center as a senior scientist in supersonic
aerodynamics. He became head of Langleys gas dynamics branch in 1949, and published Elements of
Aerodynamics of Supersonic Flows4 that year.

At this time the departments academic program was carried out primarily at the Borough Hall campus along with
the research activities in structural mechanics and aerodynamics. Authorization to proceed on the construction of a
new supersonic aerodynamics facility under the Department of Aeronautical Engineering and Applied Mechanics
was granted by the Board of Trustees of Brooklyn Poly in October 1951. One year later the land in suburban
Freeport, New York, on the south shore of Long Island and 20 miles east of the Brooklyn campus, had been
purchased, the building designed, a contractor selected, and construction initiated. The office space was occupied in
January 1954 and preliminary tests of the supersonic tunnels were begun in July 1954. In early 1955 these facilities
were dedicated at a Conference on High Speed Aeronautics5. The outstanding program included speakers like
Theodore von Karman, Hugh Dryden, Luigi Crocco, Adolf Busemann, R.T. Jones, and Hermann Schlichting,
among others. Dr. Theodore von Karman was a keynote speaker and on that occasion remarked, "... In a relatively
short time the Department of Aeronautical Engineering and Applied Mechanics of this institution has become one of
the well-known centers of aeronautical research and teaching. I am convinced it will grow and flourish during the
second century of the Institute." These encouraging words and the excellence which characterized the dedication
Conference served as stimuli for the subsequent academic research and educational endeavors of what was now
called the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn Aerodynamics Laboratory and ultimately became known throughout the
field as PIBAL.

In 1957 Hoff left Brooklyn Poly to return to Stanford, at the invitation of Frederick Terman, then Stanfords Dean of
Engineering, to set up their new Department of Aeronautics, which had recently been split off from the Department
of Mechanical Engineering, just as Brooklyn Polys had been 17 years before. Upon Hoffs departure Ferri was
appointed the new Head of the Department of Aeronautical Engineering and Applied Mechanics. It is worthwhile
noting that Hoff was one of the early members of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and while at
Stanford he was instrumental in promoting Ferris election to the NAE. Around this time Ferri, along with Lee
Arnold, Head of NYUs Aeronautical Engineering Department, and with the encouragement and participation of
Theodore von Karman, founded General Applied Science Laboratories (GASL). This company was heavily engaged
in the industrial side of advanced aerospace engineering research and its traditions were carried on by a number of
Brooklyn Poly and NYU alumni and it is now part of ATK Alliant Techsystems.

A description of the new hypersonic facility built by Ferri and his colleagues6 which incorporated the first high
performance pebble-bed heater was featured in Aviation Week7 in 1957 and a photograph of the installation is given
in Fig. 1. Martin Bloom, a Brooklyn Poly aero alumnus, Lu Ting, and Angelo Miele both joined the department
early in this highly exciting and productive period and the aerodynamics research group included several graduate
students who later became members of the faculty, including Marian Visich, Jr., Roberto Vaglio-Laurin, Victor
Zakkay, and Robert Cresci. Other students who went on to aerospace careers outside of Polytechnic included Joseph
Singer (President of the Technion in Israel), Carlo Buongiorno (University of Rome, then the Director General of

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the Italian Space Agency ), Luigi Napolitano (University of Naples), Adrian Pallone (AVCO Corporation), Hiroshi
Sato (University of Tokyo), Joseph Clarke (Brown University), Massimo Trella (ultimately Inspector General of the
European Space Agency), and Robert Sanator (President, Fairchild Republic Corporation).

As interest in space-related studies grew, so did the academic and research interests of the faculty and in September
1960 the name was expanded again to become the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Applied Mechanics.
Ferris interest in high speed propulsion8 led to fundamental studies of the supersonic combustion ramjets
(scramjets) performed in PIBALs hypersonic tunnels. In the early part of the 1960s the department was completing
a decade of high research activity (around $1.1 million; about 30% of the total research volume at Brooklyn Poly at
that time) with 9 regular and 14 research faculty members. A photograph of most of the PIBAL faculty at this time
is shown in Fig. 2. All faculty members were involved in the research program, being effectively on 12 month
appointments as well as having some teaching duties ranging from 2 to 6 contact hours per week. About 35 to 40
graduate students were involved in the research program and most were research assistants or research associates on
a regular 40 hour work week with classes being taken part-time. As far as support help was concerned there were
about 5 computational assistants and a complement of about 38 highly skilled technicians, such as riggers,
machinists, welders, draftsmen, etc., while the clerical and administrative staff numbered 15. It is clear that the
departmental operation at that time was one of substantial magnitude and graduate students were immersed in a
high-intensity research atmosphere reflecting the tenor of the times in aerospace and defense activity.

I enrolled at Brooklyn Poly in January, 1958 and completed the Bachelor of Aeronautical Engineering degree in
1961. During the summer of 1960 I was an undergraduate assistant at PIBAL in Freeport and continued part-time
during my senior year. This was the common method of entry into the exciting world of high-speed aeronautical
research and the path to a graduate research appointment. It was a turning point in my life and an experience of
everlasting value to me throughout the career to which it led me. Students in the solid mechanics area pursued a
similar path at the main campus in Brooklyn. The atmosphere generated by such a renowned figure as Ferri was
exhilarating. For example, in Figure 3 we see him being introduced to President John F. Kennedy by von Karman,
who was just awarded the National Medal of Science by the President.

The solid mechanics research at the time was on submarine structures, blast loading on structures, thermal effects on
hypersonic aerospace vehicles, and basic studies on visco-elastic materials. Fluid mechanics research encompassed
hypersonic aerodynamics and associated heating, rarefied gas dynamics, radiation gas dynamics, and development
of low-density hypersonic wind tunnels. The greater metropolitan area at that time was a center of aerospace and
defense research like that of southern California and the field was of such perceived national importance that it was
a strong drawing card for bright and dedicated students of engineering. One of the virtues of Brooklyn Poly at this
time was the leanness of the administration, for example, the position of Dean of Engineering did not exist; instead,
department heads dealt directly with the president. Of course, Brooklyn Poly focused on engineering and the number
of students enrolled during the decade of the 1960s averaged 3280 while the number of faculty members averaged
11.8, so that the school was about the size of a college of engineering in a large university. Given that fact, it was the
departments good fortune that Ferri had good rapport with, and support from, Harry Rogers, Brooklyn Polys

Other schools were trying to develop equally powerful aerospace programs and in 1962 Paul Libby, Assistant
Director of PIBAL and one of Ferris key associates, was recommended by Theodore von Karman to S.S. Penner as
a likely addition to the newly launched University of California campus at San Diego. In New York the only other
aerospace department in the metropolitan area was the venerable one at New York University (NYU), one of the
original Guggenheim Laboratories. In 1964 Ferri and a group of professors, including Victor Zakkay, Lu Ting, and,
later, Roberto Vaglio-Laurin, left Brooklyn Poly to establish a high-speed laboratory at the University Heights
campus of New York University located in the Bronx. Some graduate students like Egon Krause (later holder of the
von Karman Chair at the University of Aachen and Prandtl Ring recipient in 2006) went with them to continue their
education there and recent Ph.D.s, like Herbert Fox (later Vice-President of New York Institute of Technology)
joined as new faculty members. The Brooklyn Poly and NYU aerodynamics laboratories continued to cooperate
through the years in a relationship which both parties valued highly. Martin Bloom, another central PIBAL associate
of Ferri, was called back from leave as Vice President at GASL and appointed department head in February 1964,
and another new era in developing aerospace engineering education at Brooklyn Poly had begun. Bloom was then
appointed the Dean of Engineering (the second in Brooklyn Polys history) in 1966, and Joseph Kempner became
head of the department. Kempner, like Bloom, was an alumnus and developed his international reputation in the

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theory of plates and shells, building on the foundations developed by Hoff, as Bloom did in carrying forward Ferris
legacy. He led a group of researchers, including Sebastian Nardo, Frank Romano, Jerome Klosner, Sharad Patel, and
William Vafakos, in conducting the parallel program in applied mechanics in the department.

The writer joined the faculty in 1965, after completing the Ph.D. under Martin Bloom and participated as a new
Assistant Professor in the transfer of the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn Aerodynamics Laboratories (PIBAL)
facilities to their new home at Polytechnic's Long Island Graduate Center (LIGC) in suburban Farmingdale, New
York, 12 miles northeast of their original location in Freeport. Republic Aviation Corporation had donated 25 acres
of its property to the Polytechnic on which a group of academic and laboratory buildings were erected to serve the
graduate engineering education needs of the burgeoning Long Island aerospace and defense companies including not
only Republic, but also Grumman, Sperry, and Fairchild, among others. The LIGC began graduate classes in its new
buildings in 1961 and the aerospace classes that had been given at PIBAL in Freeport were now presented in the
more traditional academic atmosphere of a dedicated educational center. The PIBAL wind tunnels that were moved
to the LIGC were merged with other new laboratory facilities that had already been initiated there by the
department. The combined new and old laboratory facility, along with associated offices and laboratory cells were
housed in a new building complex dedicated in 1966 as the Preston R. Bassett Research Laboratory. Bassett was one
of the pioneers of flight on Long Island, an original member of the NACA, a former president of Sperry Gyroscope
Corporation, and a long-time member and chairman of the Polytechnics Board. The new facility and the move of
equipment from Freeport to Farmingdale were supported by NASA and the keynote speaker at the dedication
ceremony was NASA Administrator James Webb.

In addition to transferring the high-speed wind tunnels to the LIGC new hypersonic facilities were launched. A 100
ft shock tunnel driven by heated Helium produced Mach 18 flows in an 8 ft diameter test section for the study of
reentry plasma flow fields was developed and built. A rocket test facility with four test cells capable of testing liquid
propellant rocket engines of up to 10,000 pounds of thrust was developed and operated by Vito Agosta. To study the
other end of the speed spectrum a 4 by 5 ft environmental wind tunnel capable of reproducing atmospheric boundary
layer characteristics like wind shear and temperature gradient was commissioned. Among the earliest application of
Raman scattering techniques for diagnosing reacting flows was carried out by Samuel Lederman in PIBALs laser
laboratory. Attention to the theoretical side of aerodynamics was characterized by a major effort in computational
fluid mechanics by Martin Bloom, Gino Moretti, and Stanley Rubin. A landmark symposium on the subject was
held in 1972 and culminated in the founding of the Journal of Computers and Fluids by Martin Bloom and Stanley
Rubin. Among Ph.D. students graduating during the end of this period were Hermann Viets, who went on to become
Dean of Engineering at the University of Rhode Island and then President of the Milwaukee School of Engineering;
he also served as a trustee of Brooklyn Poly until 2008.

III. The Third Period, 1973-1987

In the early 1970s engineering was in turmoil and an economic squeeze was being felt throughout academia and
particularly so in the metropolitan area. In a complicated, almost operatic, manner the plight of engineering in the
region was to have been improved by the dissolution of the NYU School of Engineering and Science and the
incorporation of it into the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn forming a new Polytechnic Institute of New York
(PINY) in 1973. Around this time Marian Visich, who had spearheaded the move to Farmingdale with Robert
Cresci, left Polytechnic to join the State University of New York at Stony Brook, ultimately becoming Associate
Dean of Engineering. The enormous change in the structure of engineering in the metropolitan area brought about
by the merger is a story in itself and beyond the scope of this parochial evocation of the life (and death) of
aeronautical engineering in a major metropolis. Ferri, who held the Vincent Astor Chair at NYU stayed on, along
with several other faculty members, and started an applied science program at the main NYU campus in downtown
Manhattan. Other NYU aerospace faculty members left to join the new PINY, including Morris Isom, Simon
Slutsky, Gordon Strom, and Jack Werner.

Ferri died suddenly in 1975; he was an esteemed co-worker, teacher, and friend, who provided inspirational
leadership throughout his lifetime. He has a special place in the hearts of those who were associated with him. His
high technical capability, innovative mind, faculty for stimulating achievement, and intense dedication, gave rise to
a legacy of important technical accomplishments.

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The effect of financial strife in engineering programs throughout the country culminated in the merger of the
department with the Department of Mechanical Engineering in 1976, the merged department becoming the
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering with Richard Thorsen, who had come to Poly from NYU, as
the department head. One notices that, as in the case in many other similar programs around the country at this time,
the appellation of Applied Mechanics fell out of the departments title though it was retained as a graduate degree
program. The current writer became head of the combined department for the period of 1983 to 1986.

The advent of modern computation brought about a significant activity in computational aerodynamics at the
Laboratories during the 1970s while the emphasis on experimental high-speed aerodynamics had taken a downturn.
During this period the Journal of Computers and Fluids, founded at Brooklyn Poly by Martin Bloom and Stanley
Rubin, who was also a Poly alumnus, flourished. Rubin had taken his Ph.D. at Cornell and returned to Poly as a
faculty member in 1964. Gino Moretti had also joined the faculty, further underlining the emphasis on
computational studies in the department. Thus, the theme of the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Symposium held in June
1979 illustrated the interest in this discipline. Around this time Rubin left to assume the role of aerospace
engineering department head at the University of Cincinnati, echoing the route taken by Harrington some 30 years
earlier. Several graduates from this period made notable contributions to NASA programs: Manuel Salas, Peter
Gnoffo, and Charles Camarda, who was a mission specialist on Space Shuttle Discovery on the return to flight
mission STS-114.

The Polytechnic name changed again in 1985 to the Polytechnic University of New York and an effort was made to
reduce the number of faculty by offering incentive plans for early retirement. It must be noted that until an act of the
U.S. Congress was passed in 1984 banning a mandatory retirement age for faculty members, Polytechnics standard
practice procedures called for faculty members to retire at age 65. In 1986 ten faculty members, including long-time
Poly aero faculty and alumni Martin Bloom and Sebastian Nardo, of the combined department took advantage of
early retirement incentive packages offered by the Polytechnic. At the same time two highly capable young faculty
left for other universities and made outstanding careers for themselves: Bernard Grossman at Virginia Polytechnic
Institute and State University (who then became Head of their Aerospace and Ocean Engineering Department and is
now a Vice President of the National Institute of Aerospace) and Moshe Matalon at Northwestern University (now
with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign).

IV. The Fourth Period, 1988- 2008

By the late 1980s and early 1990s several more aerospace faculty retired, among them Joseph Kempner, Gino
Moretti, Samuel Lederman, Sharad Patel, Burton Erickson, and A. Ralph Krenkel. An upsurge in interest in
aerospace activities nationwide in the 80s was met at Brooklyn Poly by re-introducing a separate Department of
Aerospace Engineering in 1988, with the author of this article as the new head. The end of that decade saw new
faculty members re-energize the Aerodynamics Laboratory with a switch of emphasis back to experimental research,
building on the well-planned approaches put into place by its founders. Although support for the large-scale
hypersonic facility was no longer available on a level that made it reasonable to resuscitate it, Grumman donated
their 15x15 inch supersonic tunnel to Polytechnic and it was put into regular use in the Farmingdale gas dynamics
laboratory complex. Now there were 8 regular faculty members in the department, primarily in the aerodynamics
discipline, and a search was underway for a faculty member in structures. A graduate from this period, Paolo
Nespoli, was a NASA mission specialist on STS-120, once again aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery, as an
astronaut representing the European Space Agency.

However, by the mid-1990s the Polytechnic was once again in financial difficulty. In 1995 the author was on a one-
month stay at the University of Rome La Sapienza working with some of the early alumni of the program,
including Carlo Buongiorno, and upon returning found that the administration had once again merged the aerospace
engineering department into the mechanical and industrial engineering department to form the Department of
Mechanical, Industrial, Aerospace, and Manufacturing Engineering. George Vradis, who was a Poly alumnus and a
specialist in CFD was named head of the newly combined department and he was succeeded in 1996 by Sunil
Kumar, an expert on energy systems and heat transfer. In 2001 the department head changed again to Said
Nourbakhsh and the department relinquished the aerospace engineering degree, returning, after 60 years, to the
earlier situation where both the graduate and undergraduate degrees were mechanical engineering degrees with an
aerospace option, and George Vradis is once again the head of the department.

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
V. Degree Production

Over the 60 years during which aerospace degree programs were part of Polytechnics offerings, the number of
graduates fluctuated substantially, in tune with the fortunes of the aerospace industry in general. Annual averages of
the number of Bachelors, Masters, and Ph.D. degrees awarded in aerospace disciplines taken over various time
periods are summarized in Table 9. It is interesting to note that the average number of Bachelors degrees awarded
over the period from 1940-1990 is 29 in spite of vast changes in the nature of the local aerospace industry and the
level of research funding in the departmental aerospace programs. Indeed, over the 1964-1978 interval where annual
departmental research expenditures were on the order of 25% of Polytechnics total, there were essentially the same
average annual number of Bachelors degrees awarded as during the 1979-1989 interval where departmental
research expenditures were no more than 10% of Polytechnics total. The impact of research funding is seen in the
category of Ph.D. degrees awarded, were much greater during the heavily funded 25 years 1953-1978, at an average
of five per year. The Masters degree numbers are influenced mainly by the strength of the local aerospace industry
which historically supplied half the students in Masters-level courses. Once again, during this middle 25-year period
the average was about 14 per year. Then larger companies like Republic and Grumman were the subjects of mergers
and the resulting entities had a continually diminishing presence in the metropolitan area, and the same was true for
many smaller defense-related companies. One of the companies that did remain and with which Polytechnics
aerospace programs have had a long and fruitful relationship is the aforementioned General Applied Science
Laboratories (GASL), which is now part of ATK Alliant Techsystems, and is still a major player in high speed
aerodynamics research at its state of the art facility in Ronkonoma, Long Island, near MacArthur airport.

VI. Nature of the Undergraduate Program

The undergraduate program was marked by the presentation of aeronautical, and then aerospace, specialty courses in
the junior and senior years. These programs are presented in Tables 1 through 8 representing most of the period of
existence of the aerospace bachelors degree program at Brooklyn Poly. Tables 1 and 2 are representative of the first
period of the 1940s and through the 1950s; Tables 3 and 4 are representative of the 1960s and up to the merger of
the aerospace and mechanical engineering departments in 1976; Tables 5 and 6 are representative of the period of
the merged department, 1976 through 1987; and Tables 7 and 8 are representative of the final period of an
independent department of aerospace engineering, 1988 through 2000. One way of summarizing the nature of
Brooklyn Polytechnics undergraduate aerospace engineering program over its existence is to compare the hours
spent in lecture and laboratory classes and the number of credit hours they represent. Such a picture of the
development of the program is shown in Fig.5. The major difference noticed is that the first 30 years show more
time spent in laboratory sessions and less in lecture sessions as compared to the second 30 years. It should be
pointed out that the total number of credit-hours for graduation was 144 the first 30 years, while in the last 30 years
it had declined to 136. Over the past decade most programs in engineering have settled at 128 credit-hours for
graduation. It is also interesting to note that there was a thriving evening undergraduate program at Brooklyn Poly
up until the early 1970s and it was instrumental in aiding students who were employed in the bustling technology
and manufacturing environment of the New York metropolitan area to complete their engineering degrees and
advance their careers.

VII. The Nature of the Graduate Program

The intense research activity at Brooklyn Poly drove the development of a rigorous graduate degree program
reflecting those interests. The Masters degree programs are shown for the same periods as the undergraduate
programs in Tables 10 through 13. It may be noticed that the actual time required to satisfy the degree requirement is
the same throughout the period shown, but the class time per credit was changed by the university after the 1973
merger with the NYU School of Engineering and Science. It is clear that the research interests in the aerospace
program were strongly directed toward supersonic flow with an emerging interest in hypersonic flow and the
corollary area of aerothermochemistry. Support for graduate students was primarily through the positions of research
assistant and research associate in each of which there were two categories, junior and senior grade. Research
assistants were students who were MS candidates (junior grade) or Ph.D. candidates prior to passing the qualifying
examination. Research associates were Ph.D. candidates who passed the preliminary examination (junior grade) or

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recent Ph.D.s or MS holders with substantial experience (senior grade). In these categories the students would work
a full-time 40 hour week on research and take 2 courses per semester, for which tuition was remitted. Research
fellows were required to work 24 hours per week on research and were generally full-time students. Of course, there
were externally funded fellowships provided by different agencies during different periods, e.g., those provided by
NASA and the National Defense Education Act (NDEA).

VIII. The Future of Aerospace Engineering at Brooklyn Poly

In an ironic twist of fate, the future of Brooklyn Poly in general has once again become intertwined with that of New
York University. In response to a perceived need for an engineering school at NYU, a merger agreement was drawn
up and approved by the boards of both universities. Thus Brooklyn Poly has been renamed once more, and is now
known as the Polytechnic Institute of New York University. Since there is no identifiable aerospace program
currently active there the question remains as to whether NYU will re-institute such a program. As pointed out at the
beginning of this paper, NYU was one of the original Guggenheim Laboratories along with the California Institute
of Technology and the University of Michigan, among others.

IX. Acknowledgements

The author is delighted to thank a number of colleagues for providing additional information, correcting
inaccuracies, suggesting improvements, and sharing personal insights and experiences. In particular he is indebted to
Martin Bloom, Paul Libby, Marian Visich, and Herbert Fox for their help and encouragement. However, the author
is responsible for all errors that may have been introduced here. It is impossible to mention all the Brooklyn Poly
people who have made a mark in the field and I apologize for such omissions and would welcome input from those
who have touched and been touched by Brooklyn Polys academic programs in aeronautics, astronautics, and
applied mechanics.

Hoff, N.J.: Analysis of Structures, Wiley, New York, 1950
Kaufman, L., Fitzgerald, B., and Sewell, T.: Moe Berg Athlete, Scholar, Spy, Little, Brown and Company,
Boston, 1974
Dawidoff, N.: The Catcher Was a Spy, Pantheon Books, New York, 1994
Ferri, A.: Elements of Aerodynamics of Supersonic Flows, Macmillan, NY, 1949
Ferri, A., Hoff, N., and Libby, P.A. (editors): Proceedings of the Conference on High Speed Aeronautics,
Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, 1955.
Ferri, A. and Libby, P.A.: The Hypersonic Facility of the Polyechnic Institute of Brooklyn and Applications to
Problems of Hypersonic Flight, Advisory Group for Aeronautical research and Development (AGARD) Report
136, 1957
Cushman, R.H.: Hypersonic Tunnels Yield Practical Data, Aviation Week, October 21, 1957.
Ferri, A.: Possible Directions of Future Research in Air-Breathing Engines, Fourth AGARD Colloquium
High Mach Number Air-breathing Engines, Pergamon Press, NY, 1961

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Table 1
Aerospace Engineering Junior Courses: 1954-1955 Academic Year Catalog

No. Subject Lec. Lab. Cr. No. Subject Lec. Lab. Cr.

63 Applied aerodynamics I 2 0 2 61 Theoretical aerodynamics I 3 0 3

343 Elements of structures 2 0 2 64 Applied aerodynamics II 3 0 3
423 Elem. of elec. engineering 3 3 4 66 Aerodynamics laboratory 0 3 1
610 Math V 4 0 4 71 Airplane Structures I 3 1 3.3
731 Aeromachine elements 4 3 5 614 Analytical mechanics 2 0 2
773 Materials testing lab 0 3 1 710 Machine tool lab 1 3 2
741 Thermodynamics 3 3 4
Fall semester totals 15 9 18 Spring semester totals 15 10 18.3

Table 2
Aerospace Engineering Senior Courses: 1954-1955 Academic Year Catalog

No. Subject Lec. Lab. Cr. No. Subject Lec. Lab. Cr.
65 Aircraft propulsion 3 0 3 38 Vibration theory 3 0 3
67 Theoretical aerodynamics II 2 0 2 76 Airplane detail design 2 6 4
72 Airplane Structures II 3 1 3.3 98 Thesis or tech. elective 0 0 2
75 Airplane design 2 4 3.3 520 English VI 2 0 2
97 Thesis or tech. elective 0 0 2 552 Economics II 3 0 3
519 English V 2 0 2 667 Principles of metallurgy 2 0 2
551 Economics I 3 0 3
Fall semester 15 5 18.6 Spring semester totals 12 6 16

Table 3
Aerospace Engineering Junior Courses: 1964-1965 Academic Year Catalog

No. Subject Lec. Lab. Cr. No. Subject Lec. Lab. Cr.

AE 221 Elasticity & structures I 4 0 4 AE 201 Dynamics I 4 0 4

AE 241 Fluid dynamics I 3 3 4 AE 222 Elasticity & structures II 3 3 4
~ English-humanities 3 0 3 AE 242 Fluid dynamics II 4 0 4
MA 105 Math V 4 0 4 ~ English-humanities 3 0 3
ME 253 Thermodynamics 3.5 1.5 4 AE 272 Mechanics of Flight II* 3 0 3
Fall semester totals 17.5 4.5 19 Spring semester totals 17 3 18
* AE 271 Mechanics of Flight I was given in the second semester of the sophomore year

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Table 4
Aerospace Engineering Senior Courses: 1964-1965 Academic Year Catalog

No. Subject Lec. Lab. Cr. No. Subject Lec. Lab. Cr.
AE 323 Elasticity & 4 0 4 AE 302 Dynamics II 3 0 3
structures III
AE 343 Fluid dynamics III 4 0 4 AE 361 Propulsion 4 0 4
AE 381 Design I 3 3 4 AE 382 Design II 1 6 3
or ~ or or ~ or
Tech. elective 4 Tech. elective 3
EE 171 Intro. to systems 3 3 4 EE 176 Principles of guidance and 4 0 4
analysis control
~ English humanities 3 0 3 ~ English humanities 3 0 3
Fall semester 17 6 19 Spring semester totals 16 6 17

Table 5
Aerospace Engineering Junior Courses: 1976-1977 Academic Year Catalog

No. Subject Lec. Lab. Cr. No. Subject Lec. Lab. Cr.

AE 311 Elasticity & structures I 3 0 3 AE 211 Dynamics I 3 0 3

AE 331 Fluid dynamics I 3 0 3 AE 312 Elasticity & structures II 2.5 1.5 3
AE 350 Introduction to aerodesign 2 3 3 AE 332 Fluid dynamics II 2.5 1.5 3
MA 260 Vector analysis and PDE 4 0 4 ~ English-humanities 3 0 3
ME 270 Thermodynamics 4 0 4 AE 351 Aircraft design I 3 0 3
EE 377 Electronics 2.5 1.5 3
Fall semester totals 16 3 17 Spring semester totals 16.5 4.5 18

Table 6
Aerospace Engineering Senior Courses: 1976-1977 Academic Year Catalog

No. Subject Lec. Lab. Cr. No. Subject Lec. Lab. Cr.
AE Elasticity & structures 2.5 1.5 3 AE Propulsion 3 0 3
313 III 371
AE Fluid dynamics III 2.5 1.5 3 AE Spacecraft design 3 3 4
333 353
AE Aircraft design II 2 3 3 ~ Technical electives 8* 0* 8
~ Technical electives 6* 0* 6 ~ Humanities social 3 0 3
~ Free elective 3 0 3
Fall semester 16* 6* 18 Spring semester totals 17* 3* 18
*Technical electives are counted here as lecture hours but they may include both lecture and lab hours

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Table 7
Aerospace Engineering Junior Courses: 1993-1995 Academic Year Catalog

No. Subject Lec. Lab. Cr. No. Subject Lec. Lab. Cr.

AE Fundamentals of stress 3 0 3 AE Space dynamics 3 0 3

271 analysis I 251
AE Fluids I 3 0 3 AE Fundamentals of stress 3 0 3
231 272 analysis II
AE Mechanics of flight I 3 0 3 AE Fluids II 3 0 3
311 232
MA Intro. to probability and 3 0 3 ~ Humanities social 3 0 3
222 statistics sciences
ME Thermodynamics 3 0 3 AE Aircraft design II 2 3 3
201 342
~ Humanities social 3 0 3 EEPrinciples of electrical 3 0 3
sciences 370
Fall semester totals 18 0 18 Spring semester totals 18 0 18
* AE 341 Intro to aerodesign was given in the first semester of the sophomore year

Table 8
Aerospace Engineering Senior Courses: 1993-1995 Academic Year Catalog

No. Subject Lec. Lab. Cr. No. Subject Lec. Lab. Cr.
AE Advanced stress analysis I 2 1 3 AE Propulsion 3 0 3
281 241
AE Fluids III 3 0 3 AE Spacecraft design 2 3 3
233 344
AE Aircraft design II 2 3 3 AE Mechanics of flight II 3 0 3
343 312
AE Fluids laboratory I 1 3 2 AE Fluids laboratory II 0 3 1
349 350
~ Technical electives 3* 0* 3 ~ Technical electives 3* 0* 3
~ Humanities social 3 0 3 Humanities social 3 0 3
sciences sciences
Fall semester 14* 7* 17 Spring semester totals 14* 6* 16
* Technical electives are counted here as lecture hours but they may include both lecture and lab hours

Table 9
Average Annual Aerospace Degrees Awarded Over Various Periods

Period Average number of Average number of Average number of

Bachelors degrees Masters degrees Doctors degrees
1940-1952 17 5 2
1953-1963 29 11 5
1964-1978 36 16 5
1979-1989 34 8 1
Overall average 29 10 3

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Table 10
Master of Aeronautical Engineering: 1954-1955 Academic Year Catalog

Course No. Subject Credits

0691 Dynamics I 2
0621 Viscous Incompressible Flow 2
0631 Supersonic Flow 2
0671 Aircraft Stability & Control 2
0951-2 Seminar 0
MA 331-2 Applied Mathematics I and II 4
Select two: Select two of the following courses
AE 644 Compressible Flow II 4
AE 742 Viscous Flow II
AE 744 Compressible Flow III
AE 745 Hypersonic Flow
~ Select four credits in elasticity or structural 4
Mechanics in consultation with a graduate advisor
AE 904-5 Project 4
~ Electives 6
or or
AE 616-9 Thesis 8
~ Elective 2
Total 30

Table 11a
MS in Aeronautics: 1964-1965 Academic Year Catalog

Course No. Subject Credits

AE 601 Dynamics I 2
AE 641 Viscous Flow I 2
AE 643 Compressible Flow I 2
AE 674 Stability & Control 2
AE 991-2 Seminar 0
MA 331-2 Applied Mathematics I and II 4
Select two: Select two of the following courses
AE 644 Compressible Flow II 4
AE 742 Viscous Flow II
AE 744 Compressible Flow III
AE 745 Hypersonic Flow
~ Select four credits in elasticity or structural 4
Mechanics in consultation with a graduate advisor
AE 904-5 Project 4
~ Electives 6
or or
AE 616-9 Thesis 8
~ Elective 2
Total 30

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Table 11b
MS in Astronautics
1964-1965 Academic Year Catalog

Course No. Subject Credits

AE 601 Dynamics I 2
AE 641 Viscous Flow I 2
AE 643 Compressible Flow I 2
AE 644 Compressible Flow II 2
AE 661 Theory of Propulsion 2
AE 672 Trajectories and Orbits 2
AE 691 Mechanics & Thermodynamics of Real Gases 2
AE 991-2 Seminar 0
EE 651 Linear Feedback Theory 2
EE 655 Elements of Inertial Guidance 2
MA 331-2 Applied Mathematics I and II 4
AE 904-5 Project 4
~ Electives 4
AE 616-9 Thesis 8
Total 30

Table 12
MS in Aeronautics and Astronautics: 1976-1977 Academic Year Catalog

Course No. Subject Credits

AE 601 Advanced Dynamics I 3
AE 611 Analytical Methods in Fluid Mechanics 3
AE 641 Viscous Flow 3
AE 643 Compressible Flow 3
AE 645 Fluid Dynamics I 3
AE 673 Vehicle Dynamics I 3
AE 993-4 Seminar 0
AE 650 Thermodynamics 3
AE 651 Aerothermochemistry I 3
AE 603 Noise and Acoustics I 3
AE 604 Noise and Acoustics II 3
AE 690 Experimental Methods in Fluid Dynamics Research 3
~ Electives 9
AE 987 Thesis 9
~ Elective 3
Total 36

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Table 13
MS in Aeronautics and Astronautics: 1993-1995 Academic Year Catalog

Course No. Subject Credits

AE 731 Analytic Methods in Thermal & Fluid Mechanics 3
AE 732 Computational Methods in Thermal & Fluid Mechanics 3
AE 740 Principles of Fluid Dynamics 3
AE 741 Compressible Flow 3
AE 742 Viscous Flow 3
AE 810 Theory of Propulsion 3
AE 971-2 Seminar in Aerospace Engineering 0
~ Electives, including project or thesis 18
Total 36

Figure 1 Aerial view of PIBAL facilities at Freeport, circa 1960

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Figure 2 A group of most of the PIBAL faculty members, circa 1960. Seated, from left, Lu Ting,
Roberto Vaglio-Laurin, Marian Visich, Jr. Standing, from left: Sergio Panunzio, Robert Cresci,
Paul Libby, Manlio Abele, Victor Zakkay, Antonio Ferri, Martin Bloom.

Figure 3 Antonio Ferri being introduced to President John F. Kennedy by Theodore von Karman
(center foreground, back to camera) on the occasion of the presentation of the National Science
Award to von Karman, February, 1963

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Figure 4 PIBAL facilities at the Preston R. Bassett Research Laboratory of Polytechnic in
Farmingdale, NY, circa 1970

80 credits

20 laboratory
55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95
Academic Year

Figure 5 Polytechnic aero program requirements in laboratory and lecture hours for combined
junior and senior years as a function of academic year

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics