Raymond L. Bisplinghoff

Tyco Laboratories, Inc.

February 7, 1917 - March 5, 1985

Scientific Discipline: Engineering Sciences
Membership Type:
Member (elected 1967)

Raymond L. Bisplinghoff was an innovator in the fields of aircraft structures and flutter, aeroelasticity, and structural dynamics. He wrote several influential textbooks including Aeroelasticity (1955), Principles of Aeroelasticity (1961), and Statics of Deformable Solids (1965). At the onset of World War II, Bisplinghoff, at the time a PhD student at University of Cincinnati, enlisted in the army. He served at the Army Air Corps’ Wright Field where he worked on aircraft flutter and engine vibration before spending three years as a naval officer assigned to the Bureau of Aeronautics in Washington, D.C. After the war, he participated in the Eniwetok Atoll bomb tests in 1951 and 1952 with his colleague, H. Guyford Stever. From 1962 to 1963, he was the director of the Office of Advanced Research and Technology at NASA, a position at the forefront of aerospace engineering.  He returned to academia in 1966 and became the head of MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, where he contributed to the planning efforts of Apollo missions 8 through 12. In 1970, President Nixon appointed him Deputy Director of the National Science Foundation, a position he held for four years. During his time at the NSF, he strengthened its Division of Engineering and established the RANN (Research Applied to National Needs) program.  He also expanded the budget of the solar and renewable energy program from $1 million to $50 million. He left D.C. to return to education in 1974 and to become the director and vice president of Tyco Laboratories in 1977.

Bisplinghoff attended the University of Cincinnati where he received his AE (Aeronautical Engineer) degree in 1940 and his MS in physics in 1942. Despite WWII interrupting the pursuit of his PhD, he persisted and earned his ScD degree in 1957 from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich, Switzerland. After his military time, he taught aeronautical engineering at MIT for 16 years, with two years as an assistant professor, four years as an associate professor, and 10 years as a full professor. In 1966, he was elected the National President of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.  From 1968 to 1970, Bisplinghoff was the Dean of the School of Engineering at MIT before he went to D.C. for the NSF. In 1974, he accepted the chancellorship at the University of Missouri, Rolla campus. When he left to work at Tyco Laboratories, he also accepted a teaching position for aeroelasticity at the University of Florida, where he taught until his retirement in 1985. He also served as the chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board of the U.S. Air Force from 1979 to 1982. Bisplinghoff received several awards for his contributions, the most distinguished of them being the Sylvanus Reed Award from the Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in 1958, the Distinguished Service Medal from NASA in 1967, and the Distinguished Service Award from the NSF in 1973.

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