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Raymond Bisplinghoff

Biographical Information

Name: Raymond Bisplinghoff
Full name: Raymond Lewis Bisplinghoff
Born on 7 February 1917 in , Butler County, Ohio, USA, North America
Deceased on 5 March 1985 in , Suffolk County, Massachusetts, USA, North America

Short biography of Raymond Bisplinghoff

Without doubt, Bisplinghoff belongs to the leading scientists and organisers of the USA’s aerospace industry in the second half of the 20th century. Bisplinghoff, the son of a miller, attended the University of Cincinnati and graduated in the subjects of aircraft construction and physics. He chose a theme from physics for his dissertation project, but had to abandon this because of World War 2. Following service as an engineering officer in the US Navy Bureau of Aeronautics, he resumed his academic career as assistant professor for aeronautical engineering at the MIT in 1946. It was during this period that he completed his pioneering work on the structural dynamics behaviour of sweptback aircraft wings [Bisplinghoff et al., 1955, pp. 51–56]. Hubert I. Flomenhoft, one of Bisplinghoff ’s colleagues at that time, remembers him well:"Soon after arriving at MIT, he sent a proposal to the office which he had left [US Navy Bureau of Aeronautics – the author] and was awarded a contract to study a range of problems in structural dynamics. This was completed in 1948, and the final report was a spiral-bound document about three centimeters in thickness with a striking blue cover. This became known as ‘the big blue Bible’, and was a basic reference for many later authors. The report also became the basis for about half of the book, Aeroelasicity [see [Bisplinghoff et al., 1955] – the author]” [Flomenhoft, 2007]. After two years, Bisplinghoff was promoted to associate professor, became full professor in 1953 and in 1957 deputy director of the MIT’s Department of Aeronautics; in that same year Bisplinghoff was finally able to conclude his doctorate at Zurich ETH. The scientific output of his research group at MIT was summarised in three extraordinary monographs which he wrote together with Holt Asley, Robert L. Halfmann, James W. Mar and Theodore H. H. Pian [Bisplinghoff et. al., 1955; 1961; 1965], and which today are still among the standard works of structural mechanics. As an assistant administrator at NASA, Bisplinghoff was responsible for organising the scientific work. In 1966 he was nominated head of the Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics, and in 1968 dean of the MIT School of Engineering. During this same period, Bisplinghoff was in charge of the NASA Research & Technology Council and was therefore directly involved in preparing, organising and evaluating the scientific and technical work of the Apollo 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 missions, the spectacular climax of which was the manned moon landing of 20 July 1969. One year after that, Bisplinghoff became deputy director of the National Science Foundation and in 1974 chancellor of the University of Missouri. He concluded his career as senior vice-president of research at Tyco Laboratories in Exeter, New Hampshire. “When Raymond L. Bisplinghoff died in 1985,” Flomenhoft writes, “he was recognized by the United States Congress as a distinguished aeronautical engineer, renowned for his teaching, research, engineering, and writing, and for his leadership in education, government, and industry”.

Main contributions to structural analysis:

Some results of sweepback wing structural studies [1951]; Aeroelasticity [1955]; Principles of Aeroelasticity [1961]; Statics of Deformable Solids [1965]; History of Aeroelasticity [1997]

Source: Kurrer, Karl-Eugen The History of the Theory of Structures, Wilhelm Ernst & Sohn Verlag für Architektur und technische Wissenschaften GmbH, Berlin (Deutschland), ISBN 3-433-01838-3, 2008; p. 717

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