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Prof. John E. LaGraff elected to a national board position with the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Prof. John E. LaGraff elected to a national board position with the American Institute of Aeronautics and AstronauticsMay 02, 2003Kelly Homan Rodoskikahoman@syr.edu
During his distinguished career, John E. LaGraff has been at the forefront of promoting research, education and international study.
LaGraff, professor of mechanical, aerospace and manufacturing engineering (MAME) in the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS), will draw on his broad base of knowledge and experience in his new position as vice president of education for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). His election was announced at the AIAA’s annual business meeting on May 2 at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.
“I am honored by this election by my peers,” says LaGraff. “I look forward to working with and serving both future and practicing aerospace professionals through this important position.”
“John LaGraff has long been an influential aerospace engineering educator in the U.S. and the world, having made significant contributions to accreditation, curricular reform and internationalization,” says ECS Dean Edward Bogucz. “He has loyally and creatively served the AIAA and the profession for many years, and we are proud of his record of achievement and this honor that he has earned. We are confident that he will make a real difference during his term as vice president for education within the AIAA.”
“This is wonderful news for the department,” says Alan Levy, professor and chair of MAME. “John’s national leadership reflects positively on our aerospace engineering program and will help to ensure that we remain on the leading edge of educational innovation.”
In his new position, LaGraff will have oversight responsibilities for the AIAA’s educational activities and will represent the organization’s educational committees to the AIAA’s Board of Directors. He will oversee the AIAA Foundation, a nonprofit, educational organization formed by the institute to devote more attention and resources to the education of both current and future aerospace professionals.
The AIAA Foundation sponsors seven design competitions-five undergraduate, one graduate and one open-which offer students opportunities to work in teams to solve real-world problems. The AIAA also supports education through pre-college programs and activities, numerous undergraduate and graduate scholarships, and outreach to more than 145 active student branches at colleges and universities worldwide, which encompass more than 5,000 students.
LaGraff has been a member of the AIAA for nearly 40 years and currently serves as chair of the organization’s Academic Affairs Committee. He has previously served as deputy director for education for the Northeastern U.S. and as one of the three AIAA commissioners on the Engineering Accreditation Commission.
LaGraff joined the SU faculty in 1970, shortly after completing doctoral studies at Oxford University; he also holds a bachelor’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He served as chair of ECS’ Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Manufacturing Engineering from 1998-2003. During that time, the faculty size increased by nearly 50 percent and research funding nearly tripled. He was especially successful in recruiting senior-level, highly experienced professionals to the faculty. Prior to his tenure as department chair, LaGraff served as program director of aerospace engineering. His leadership resulted in the recruitment of five outstanding faculty members and in SU students winning the best aerospace engineering student research paper in the U.S. four times at the annual meeting of the AIAA.
He also served as director of the NASA Center for Hypersonics at SU and was associate director of the ARPA/NSF Manufacturing Engineering Traineeship for Defense Workers. He spearheaded numerous grants that have supported collaborative research and study between SU and academic institutions around the globe.
He served as national president of Sigma Gamma Tau, the aerospace engineering honor society, from 1990-93, and as an international engineering education accreditation evaluator of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).
LaGraff was the originator and founding director of the Engineering Year Abroad Program through SU’s Division of International Programs Abroad (DIPA). When it began in 1980, it was the first (and continues to be one of the few) program to provide engineering students with an opportunity to live and study abroad in a full-year, fully integrated program. He previously assisted in development of summer internship/study programs in Madrid, Spain, and Strasbourg, France. This spring, he helped to finalize an exchange agreement with the University Politecnia di Madrid in Spain for engineers to start in the Spring 2004 semester.
LaGraff is currently on academic leave to work on current and prospective gas turbine research projects. He has divided his time during the spring semester between Oxford University and the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland, the two most prominent centers for turbomachinery research in Europe.
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (and its predecessors) has been the principal society of the aerospace engineer and scientist for more than 65 years. The organization was officially formed in 1963 with the merger of the American Rocket Society and the Institute of Aerospace Sciences, formed in 1930 and 1932, respectively. The purpose remains the same today, “to advance the arts, sciences and technology of aeronautics and astronautics and to promote the professionalism of those engaged in these pursuits.” The organization today includes more than 31,000 members and is the world’s largest professional society devoted to the progress of engineering and science in aviation, space and defense.