Engineering professor receives ASC Fellowship


Dr. Harry Hilton, professor emeritus in Aerospace Engineering, right, with former Ph.D student Alister Fraser in 1965.

Harry Hilton, professor emeritus in aerospace engineering, has recently been named a 2014 Fellow of the American Society for Composites. Hilton began teaching at the University in 1949, when the aerospace engineering program was still in its infancy — only five years old at the time.  Since then, he has beeninternationally recognized as an authority on viscoelasticity and aero-viscoelasticity. 

Hilton taught and researched during the golden era of aerospace research, when the public’s interest helped draw support for space programs in the 1950s and 1960s. 

According to the aerospace engineering department’s website, during the scope of his career, Hilton has been published more than 300 times in archival journals or conference proceedings. He has also taught every undergraduate aerospace engineering class at the University, apart from propulsion. 

And, although Hilton has been officially retired since 1990, his active involvement in the scientific community is what landed him a nomination with ASC, an engineering and scientific professional organization that strives “to provide a communication forum for the engineering and scientific community in composite materials,” according to its mission statement.

Dr. Robert M. Jones, professor emeritus at Virginia Tech, along with three other former ASC presidents, nominated Hilton for the fellowship and placed special emphasis on his contribution to engineering since his retirement.

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“Dr. Hilton has aided fundamental analysis capabilities for the aerospace industry,” Jones said. “(He) is to be admired for his superb contributions after his retirement. Not many folks can match what he has accomplished in the past 20 years.”

In addition to his involvement with ASC, Hilton is a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and is actively involved in other organizations such as the Society of Experimental Mechanics, the Society of Engineering Science and the American Institute of Physics, among others.

He is joining the ranks of 44 other ASC fellows, including his department colleague Dr. Scott R. White and will be honored for his 65 years of service to the University at a ceremony on Oct. 24.

“I love teaching, and I don’t get paid for it. It’s purely a labor of love. I love doing the research and working with graduate students and doing my own research, and I really continued the life that I led all the time (while) I was here,” he said.

Ben Wexler, sophomore in Engineering, said he feels it’s important to recognize the accomplishments of professors like Hilton.

“It is important to give people who have made serious and important contributions to a program notoriety,” Wexler said. “Such as in the case of Professor Hilton, a longstanding commitment with the aerospace program, or in the case of significant achievements, because they give the aerospace department a better reputation.”

Eliseo can be reached at [email protected].