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Remembering Fazil Erdogan

Fazil Erdogan, a former dean of the engineering college who earned a reputation as one of the world’s foremost experts in fracture mechanics, died October 2 at his home. He was 90.

Erdogan received his B.S. and M.S. in mechanical engineering from the Technical University of Istanbul and his Ph.D. from Lehigh in 1955. He joined the faculty in 1957 and served as chair of the department of mechanical engineering and mechanics and, in the late 1990s, as interim dean of the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science. He retired in 2001 as G. Whitney Snyder Professor Emeritus.

In addition to fracture mechanics, Erdogan conducted research into applied mathematics and the mechanics of engineering materials. His studies of the propagation, or growth, of cracks in materials were of critical importance to airplanes, bridges, buildings and other engineering systems. Over a 30-year period, he received continuous grants from NASA and the National Science Foundation.

During his half-century at Lehigh, Erdogan received many of the highest honors in his field. In 1983-84, he spent 10 months at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solid Mechanics in Freiburg, Germany, as a recipient of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Senior Scientist Award, one of the top research fellowships given by the German government. He received the Humboldt Award a second time in 1999.

“Fazil Erdogan [has] made very significant contributions both to the mathematical and the experimental side of fracture mechanics,” said Herman Nied, professor of mechanical engineering and mechanics and one of Erdogan’s Ph.D. students, “particularly to the fracture of pressure vessels and piping and to the behavior of material interfaces.”

Erdogan is survived by his wife, Barbara; a daughter, Ann Tracy; a son, Turan Erdogan; and eight grandchildren.

Read the full story at the Lehigh University News Center.

-Kurt Pfitzer is the Manager, Editorial Services for the Office of Communications and Public Affairs at Lehigh University.

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