Virginia Tech Professor of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering Dies

BLACKSBURG, Va., Dec. 5, 2003 – Fred Lutze, professor emeritus of Virginia Tech's department of aerospace and ocean engineering, died unexpectedly Dec. 2.

Lutze, who came to Virginia Tech with his wife Jean in 1966, spent his entire academic career at the university. He earned his bachelor's degree from Worcester Institute in 1959, his master's and his Ph.D. from the University of Arizona in 1964 and in 1967, respectively.

Although he had officially retired as a full time faculty member, Lutze had continued to teach and advise students at the university.

"The time he spent as an adviser to students was phenomenal," says Hassan Aref, dean of the College of Engineering.

Lutze was still serving as the faculty adviser to the Aerospace Engineering Honor Society, a position he had held since 1968. And since 1989, he had advised the student chapter of the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). With AIAA, Lutze was the adviser of its Design, Build and Fly competition since 1996. He raised about $10,000 to help support this student design team. His students have received the outstanding AIAA student chapter award three times, and Lutze received the 1999 National AIAA Advisor Award.

Lutze also had a hand in promoting a number of unique service projects. As an example, he encouraged his students to travel to Rocky Mount, Va., where they presented lectures and hands-on experiments to eighth grade students. Lutze and his students helped the Rocky Mount youngsters build their own wind tunnel which was completed in one day. The story was covered by the local newspapers.

Lutze's service to the graduate students was impressive. He served as major professor for a number of students including those in off-campus programs at NASA Langley and at the Naval Surface Warfare Center at Dahlgren. Lutze invested much of his effort in support of his graduate students, spending many hours teaching, counseling and encouraging them. For the past 15 years he served as the aerospace and ocean engineering graduate program administrator.

Lutze's research interests spanned a spectrum of aerospace dynamics problems. Early in his career he developed an explanation of the rotational/orbital motion of the planet Mercury (the ratio of orbital and rotational periods is 3/2). For quite some time he has been concerned with nonlinear aerodynamic modeling and airplane spin/departure prediction.

The College of Engineering at Virginia Tech is internationally recognized for its excellence in 14 engineering disciplines and computer science. The college's 5,600 undergraduates benefit from an innovative curriculum that provides a "hands-on, minds-on" approach to engineering education, complementing classroom instruction with two unique design-and-build facilities and a strong Cooperative Education Program. With more than 50 research centers and numerous laboratories, the college offers its 2,000 graduate students opportunities in advanced fields of study such as biomedical engineering, state-of-the-art microelectronics, and nanotechnology.