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Emeritus Professor Arthur Kovitz Passes Away

Kovitz was an expert in soft mechanics

Arthur Kovitz (Photo courtesy of Northwestern University Archives)Arthur Kovitz (Photo courtesy of Northwestern University Archives)

Arthur Kovitz, emeritus professor of mechanical engineering, passed away on April 30, 2018, at age 89. He will be remembered as a dedicated teacher, an expert in his field, and a valued member of the Northwestern community.

A native of Detroit, Michigan, Kovitz earned his bachelor's degree in engineering physics and master's degree in physics from the University of Michigan. After spending a year as a research engineer at Bell Aircraft Corporation in New York, he returned to school and received his PhD in aeronautical engineering from Princeton University. In 1958, he joined Northwestern’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Astronautical Sciences as an assistant professor.

Kovitz’s research interests focused on “soft mechanics,” with an emphasis on fluid mechanics and interfaces, combustion, and heat transfer in aircraft and rocket engines. In his time at Northwestern, he published more than two dozen papers and introduced several new department courses that explored topics within thermodynamics, aerodynamics, and kinetic theory.

Kovitz was often noted for his service to his department. In addition to serving as chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Astronautical Sciences from 1971-1973, he served on the Tech Thermodynamics Committee, the Tech Curriculum Committee, the Tech Fluid Mechanics Committee, and the University’s Science-Engineering Council.

His major honors include being nominated for Northwestern’s Tech Teaching Award in 1976. He was also a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Physical Society, The Combustion Institute, and Tau Beta Pi. He retired from teaching in 2001 after more than 40 years at Northwestern.

Kovitz is survived by his wife, Valerie; daughter Claudia; son Jordan, and granddaughter Annelise.

Read Arthur Kovitz’s obituary in the Chicago Sun-Times.