Irvin Glassman to Receive the Daniel Guggenheim Medal for Influential Contributions to Aerospace Written 30 July 2018

CONTACT: John Blacksten

July 30, 2018 – Reston, Va. – Princeton University Professor Emeritus Irvin Glassman will be awarded the 2018 Daniel Guggenheim Medal on August 18 for his education and inspiration of today’s aerospace engineers and scientists and for his influential contributions to the fields of combustion and propulsion. 

“Professor Glassman is a legendary combustion expert whose writings and contributions to the understanding of fundamental combustion processes has enabled engineers and scientists to improve the performance of propulsion and power generation systems, while minimizing their adverse environmental effects,” noted Georgia Institute of Technology Aerospace Professor Ben T. Zinn in his nomination letter. 

The Daniel Guggenheim Medal was established in 1929 to honor innovators who make notable achievements in the advancement of aeronautics. Its first recipient was Orville Wright. The medal is jointly sponsored by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), SAE International (originally the Society of Automotive Engineers) and the Vertical Flight Society (originally the American Helicopter Society). 

“If future historians were to write the impact of chemical propulsion and fundamental combustion on humanity in the second half of the 20th century, Professor Glassman would be the singular person who represents the coming of age of the discipline, particularly the robustness of combustion chemistry,” wrote Chung K. Law, Robert H. Goddard Professor, Princeton University. 

While Glassman’s contributions to the aerospace industry are clear, his ability to teach, advise and mentor students is truly outstanding, noted Robert Santoro, George L. Guillet Professor of Mechanical Engineering Emeritus at Pennsylvania State University, in his letter supporting Glassman’s nomination. 

Glassman allows students to learn from their mistakes and doesn’t dictate what should be done and when it should be done, Santoro added. Instead, he gives students the chance to use their own creativity, knowing that a bad idea can often lead to the correct solution. 

“He is widely recognized as an inspirational faculty member devoted to the teaching of fundamentals––and doing so in a manner that instills fascination in his students and the application of basic knowledge,” added Norman R. Augustine, retired chairman and chief executive officer of Lockheed Martin Corporation. 

Santoro also added, “A measure of his impact is that 21 of the 35 of his graduate students awarded Ph.D.s were or are faculty members at major universities. At least two in that group, like Prof. Glassman, have been elected to the National Academy of Engineering. In addition, 5 of his former research staff also now hold faculty positions and I am proud to be one of them.” 

Known affectionately by his colleagues as the “Grand Old Man of Combustion,” Glassman is an Emeritus Professor in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. He retired from the Department in 1999 after 49 years. He received his B.E. (1943) and Dr.Eng. (1950) in Chemical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University. 

He joined Princeton University in 1950 as an assistant professor and was awarded tenure in 1958. Promoted to full professor in 1964, Glassman was appointed as the Robert H. Goddard Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in 1988. He was elected a Member of the National Academy of Engineering in 1996. 

He is an AIAA Fellow and member of the New York Academy of Sciences and was elected Outstanding Educators in America. He was the advisor to numerous universities, NASA, the Army, NATO, ONR, NIST, the State of New Jersey, and many industries, most notably United Technologies Corporation where he chaired two of their Scientific Advisory Committees. 

Past recipients of the Guggenheim Medal are some of the greatest names in aerospace, including Walter Vincenti, Holt Ashley, Lawrence Bell, William Boeing, James Doolittle, Donald Douglas, Charles Stark Draper, Hugh Dryden, Robert Goddard, Jerome Hunsaker, Theodore von Kármán, Charles Lindbergh, Glenn Martin, Frank Robinson, Burt Rutan and Igor Sikorsky, among many others. 

For more information about the AIAA/ASME/SAE/VFS Daniel Guggenheim Medal, or the AIAA Honors and Awards program, please contact Patricia Carr at or 703.264.7538.

About AIAA
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) is the world’s largest aerospace technical society. With nearly 30,000 individual members from 85 countries, and 95 corporate members, AIAA brings together industry, academia, and government to advance engineering and science in aviation, space, and defense. For more information, visit, or follow us on Twitter @AIAA.

About ASME  
ASME helps the global engineering community develop solutions to real world challenges. Founded in 1880 as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, ASME is a not-for-profit professional organization that enables collaboration, knowledge sharing and skill development across all engineering disciplines, while promoting the vital role of the engineer in society. ASME codes and standards, publications, conferences, continuing education and professional development programs provide a foundation for advancing technical knowledge and a safer world. For more information visit

About the Vertical Flight Society   
Founded as the American Helicopter Society in 1943, the Vertical Flight Society today advocates, promotes and supports global vertical flight technology and professional development. For 75 years, the Society has provided leadership for the advancement of vertical flight. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter at @VTOLsociety.

About SAE International 
SAE International is a global association committed to being the ultimate knowledge source for the engineering profession. By uniting over 127,000 engineers and technical experts, we drive knowledge and expertise across a broad spectrum of industries. We act on two priorities: encouraging a lifetime of learning for mobility engineering professionals and setting the standards for industry engineering. We strive for a better world through the work of our philanthropic SAE Foundation, including programs like A World in Motion® and the Collegiate Design Series™. For more information visit


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