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In memoriam: Dr. Donald T. Greenwood, Aerospace Engineering Professor Emeritus

With fondness and gratitude, we remember Professor Emeritus Don Greenwood (1923-2018), pioneer in dynamics, who taught Michigan aerospace engineering students for 38 years.

We are deeply saddened to announce that Aerospace Engineering Professor Emeritus Donald T. Greenwood, a beloved teacher to faculty and students alike, passed away on December 26th, 2018 at the age of 95. Dr. Greenwood led a life of service, innovation, and deep devotion to his field and community.

Dr. Donald T. Greenwood, Aerospace Engineering Emeritus Professor.

Prior to his World War II Navy service from 1945 to 1946, Dr. Greenwood earned his Bachelor’s degree at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). He briefly fought in the Pacific, then returned to the United States for a decade of learning and leadership in engineering. His work first took him to St. Paul, MN for a year as an electronic design engineer at Engineering Research Associates. His next position would be Group Engineer, or head of analog computing at Lockheed Aircraft in Burbank, CA from 1951-1956. In between those two engineering positions, however, Dr. Greenwood received his master’s in Physics (1948) and his PhD in electrical engineering (1951), providing him a firm foundation for his future in aircraft dynamics research.

Following his industry career, Dr. Greenwood became assistant professor of aerospace engineering in 1956, launching his 38-year professorship with Michigan aerospace. Within that time, he wrote three textbooks on principles of dynamics that are now considered classics: Principles of Dynamics (1965, 1988), Classical Dynamics (1977, 1997), and Advanced Dynamics (2003).

A University of Michigan Regents-appointed professorial position, the Donald T. Greenwood Collegiate Professorship of Mechanical Engineering, was minted in Professor Greenwood’s honor. UM Mechanical Engineering Professor Noel Perkins, a current researcher of nonlinear and computational dynamics and vibrations and a 2009 Donald T. Greenwood Collegiate Professor, expresses how honored he felt to have received the honor:

“It means a great deal to me that this professorship bears Don’s name and with it, an association with his tremendous reputation and scholarship,” says Perkins. “Don’s treatise Principle of Dynamics remains the standard reference for students and scholars worldwide in our field. It is literally the book in which most students—including this one—’cut their dynamics teeth’.”

In addition to his devotion to the aerospace community, Professor Greenwood was an accomplished runner; he maintained a sub-eight-minute mile past the age of 80 and he served as a finish judge for the UM men’s track and field team for over 40 years.

We fondly and gratefully remember Dr. Greenwood for his commitment, service, and contributions to the UM community, both within and outside of aerospace. A visitation service was held 4-7 pm on Friday, January 4th at Muehlig Funeral Chapel in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The funeral service was held at 11 am on Saturday, January 5th at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Ann Arbor, with the subsequent burial at Ann Arbor’s Arborcrest Memorial Park.


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Michigan Aerospace Engineering

Communications Team