Emeritus Distinguished Professor Kenneth Kuo is Remembered
August 4, 2016
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering Kenneth K. Kuo, an internationally recognized authority on chemical propulsion and propellant combustion, has died. Professor Kuo retired from Penn State in 2011 after serving 39 years, most notably as a distinguished professor of mechanical engineering and director of the High Pressure Combustion Laboratory.
Founded by Kuo, the High Pressure Combustion Laboratory is capable of a wide range of experimental testing and theoretical analyses for the characterization of combustion behavior of energetic materials. The lab consists of numerous advanced instrumentation and data acquisition devices for in-depth research in chemical propulsion and combustion.
“Among Ken's many significant accomplishments, his establishment of the High Pressure Combustion Laboratory stands out. This unique facility established Penn State as an international leader in energetic materials research and chemical propulsion, a legacy that will endure well into the future,” said professor Daniel Haworth, a colleague of Kuo’s and the director of the Penn State Center for Combustion, Power and Propulsion. “That legacy has been further ensured through the generosity of Ken and his wife, Olivia, in endowing two Early Career Professorships in the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering. Those professorships will promote the success of young faculty members in the areas of combustion and propulsion, and will serve to remind future researchers of Ken's significant contributions.”
Kuo received his doctorate in aerospace and mechanical sciences from Princeton University in 1971. He worked as a design engineer at AiResearch of Garrett Corporation from 1964 to 1968 on the Apollo Project and hypersonic ramjet engine development. His M.S. in mechanical engineering was received from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1964 and his B.S. in mechanical engineering was from the National Taiwan University in 1961.
“Professor Kuo’s scholarly contributions brought great recognition to our Department and to the University. He will have a long-lasting legacy in all those he educated over the many years he was with us. Along with our MNE family, many collaborators and former students from around the world mourn his loss. We will be forever grateful for his contributions and his generosity to the Department,” said Karen Thole, professor and department head of mechanical and nuclear engineering at Penn State.
Kuo authored four books and edited 11 texts on energetic material combustion and chemical propulsion and published more than 475 technical manuscript publications. He served as principal investigator for more than 90 projects, with total funding exceeding $42 million and served as adviser to more than 40 doctoral students, 85 master's students and 16 post-doctoral researchers.
An elected fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the International Ballistics Society, Kuo received numerous awards from various professional societies as well as from U.S. government agencies. Some of these awards include the 1995 Propellant and Combustion Award from AIAA, Faculty Scholar Medal for Engineering from Penn State, 2009 Pendray Aerospace Literature Award of AIAA, 2011 Wyld Propulsion Award of AIAA, a citation plaque from the U.S. Navy Naval Sea Systems Command-Indian Head and a recognition award from the Department of Defense's Ordnance Technology Consortium and its National Warhead and Energetic Consortium. In addition, nine of his co-authored papers have received best paper awards from different professional societies. He served on two special panels of the National Academies.