Click here to bypass page layout and jump directly to story.=

UC Berkeley >

University of California

News - Media Relations







  Press Releases

  Image Downloads



Edmund Laitone, UC Berkeley professor emeritus of mechanical engineering, dies at age 85
16 Jan 2001

By Jan Ambrosini, College of Engineering

Berkeley - Edmund Laitone, an expert on experimental and theoretical aerodynamics and a mechanical engineering professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, died at his home in El Cerrito, Calif., on December 18. He was 85.

A native of San Francisco, Laitone received his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from UC Berkeley in 1938. He went on to receive an MS in applied mathematics in 1944 and, later, a PhD in applied mechanics in 1962, from Stanford University.

He was an aeronautical engineer from 1939-45 with the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, doing experimental and theoretical research in aerodynamics at Langley and Moffett fields. From 1945-47, he was section head of flight research at Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory, where he conducted research on supersonic aerodynamics and aircraft dynamic stability.

Laitone joined the UC Berkeley faculty as an associate professor in 1947. He explored many interests in his academic career, including various administrative positions within the College of Engineering.

Laitone was the Miller Research Professor in the Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science from 1960-61 and chaired the Division of Aeronautical Sciences in the College of Engineering from 1963-68. He was also an exchange professor to Moscow University in the fall of 1964, and in 1968 he was a visiting fellow at Balliol College, Oxford University. As assistant dean of the College of Engineering from 1979-82, he was in charge of the college's engineering education television program, and from 1981-95, he chaired University Extension's Engineering Department. In 1980, he was a visiting lecturer in aeronautical engineering at the Northwestern Polytechnic Institute in Xian, China.

During his years as professor, Laitone also worked as a consultant for many engineering companies and federal agencies, including Hughes Aircraft Co., Douglas Aircraft Co., the Ramo-Wooldridge Corp., Lockheed Aircraft Corp., General Motors Corp. and the Office of Naval Research.

Laitone, a fellow of the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics since 1988, was the U.S. academic representative of the Flight Mechanics Panel of NATO's Advisory Group for Aerospace Research and Development (AGARD) from 1984-88.

He is survived by his daughter, Vicki Laitone Cucarola of Moraga; his son, Ivan Arbogast of Watsonville; four grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. His wife, Dorothy Laitone, died in 1997. His son Jonathan Laitone died in 1981.

A private memorial service was held January 13 in El Cerrito. Memorial gifts can be sent to the Jonathan Laitone Memorial Scholarship Fund, c/o the Department of Mechanical Engineering, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-1740.