Logo: University of Southern California

AME Salutes Contributions of Ron Blackwelder at Retirement Gathering

Pillar of department strength in fluid dynamics was also a powerful student mentor
Geoff Spedding
May 31, 2010 —

Professor Geoff Spedding writes:

Blackwelder 2
Professor Ron Blackwelder, cutting cake, with colleague Larry Redekopp

"The AME department commemorated the invaluable contribution of Professor Ron Blackwelder on May 5th in a ceremony that was part celebration and part sorrow. Ron retires at the end of this semester in good health and spirits and will now be able to spend more time with his family. Ron was part of a formidable team of fluid mechanics experts assembled by the founder of the Aerospace Engineering Department, John Laufer.

"Together with Richard Kaplan, who returned for the occasion, Ron compiled the most complete and accurate quantitative data on turbulent boundary layers yielding insights into fluid turbulence that were unmatched at the time and that stand today as the gold standard for such measurements and analysis.

"Ron’s focus gradually shifted to teaching and the famous Design-Build-Fly airplane group that he has supervised for 20 years. In classroom teaching, Ron has once again set the gold standard not just for AME, but for the Viterbi School and “Dr B” has been given accolades and awards that still do not quite do justice to the way in which he has profoundly affected the lives and careers of many students.

"The occasion brought colleagues from the fluid mechanics ‘Dream-Team’ of the 1970’s, including Richard Kaplan, Chi-Ming Ho and Fred Browand. Professor Larry Redekopp was also a member of this elite group, and gave the first part of a three-part review of Ron’s career, beginning in the farmlands of the Dust Bowl of Colorado. Richard Kaplan and Fred Browand continued the story to the present day. Dean Yannis C. Yortsos, also a fellow USC Engineering

Blackwelder 1
Blackwelder, wife and two granddaughters
School colleague for many years began proceedings with a tribute and presentation of a plaque.

"The occasion also brought numerous former students, some from up to 20 years ago, and now working places like Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Boeing and Lockheed-Martin, the staples of AE industry employment, and we have Ron to thank for many of these contacts.

"In his speech Dr B noted how fulfilling it has been to work for so many years with such trusted, respected and friendly colleagues, noting that the AE department always had the best parties. It was therefore fitting that the celebrations that began at 3 p.m. went on past 6:30pm, and many of us left reluctantly, but determined to keep this spirit of collegiality and intellectual adventure alive and kicking into the next era."

More about Professor Blackwelder: http://ame-www.usc.edu/personnel/blackwelder/index.shtml