Hassan Aref died this weekend

With deep sorrow we write to  convey the sad news that Hassan Aref has just passed away.  According to an email from Ishwar Puri, Head of the Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics, of Virginia Tech, Professor Hassan Aref went on an extended weekend visit to his home in Illinois on Thursday night.  He died there on Friday, sitting in his chair.

Hassan Aref was a renowned fluid mechanician.  He was recently named the recipient of the G.I. Taylor Medal.  He served on the US National Committee on Theoretical and Applied Mechanics for many years.  Through this organization, he interacted with many of us outside the field of fluid mechanics.  To new comers of the Committee, He was a caring and inspiring mentor.   He was the current secretary of the IUTAM Congress Committee and was the key player in the organization of ICTAM 2012 in Beijing.

He was a forceful and vibrant individual.  The news of his sudden passing is saddening and shocking.

Hassan Aref was a registered user of iMechanica.  Here is a list of his posts.

Update on 13 September 2011.  A website of Hassan Aref Memorial has been set up.

Zhigang Suo's picture

Reflections on 9/11, Hassan Aref

Message from Nadine Aubry, 11 September 2011.  Hassan had served as Chair of USNC/TAM and was actually Chair when 9/11 stroke us. On this 10th anniversary of 9/11 (today), I clearly remember the profound and moving Chair's report Hassan delivered at the opening of our 2002 annual spring meeting on June 23, 2002. A part of his report consisted of remarks which he had previously and carefully prepared, and which were focused on 9/11 and what it meant for the mechanics/science community and our universities.

Message from Carl T. Herakovich, 11 September 2011.  Zhigang, Nadine has a great idea. Attached are Hassan's remarks from June 23, 2002 on 9/11/2001. This is a portion of his Chair's report to the full committee. Carl

Chair's report – Hassan Aref – 22 June 2002 – Blacksburg, VA.  The year and a bit since we last met has probably been one of the more dramatic periods while I have been coming to these meetings. Last year we were still buoyed, at least in part, by the strong economy. The main concerns of the country were with mechanical problems such as when a chad can be said to be disconnected from a ballot, and how to cleanly define the difference between a dimpled chad and a hanging chad, and other such profound issues. The tragic events of 9/11 changed all that. The worsening economy was suddenly seen against the stark background of global terrorism. The US was shaken by a violent attack on some of its institutions and landmarks, a first attack by foreigners on the US mainland. 9/11 was likened to Pearl Harbor. There was grief. There was panic. There was an air of despair as the entire premise of an open society seemed to come under siege.

The engineering profession, which many of us are part of or at least close to, was quick to understand what had happened. Suddenly, the ever present parameter called "safety" had been upgraded to "security against dedicated, planned, attack, with all the usual ideas and conventions about hostage taking and the value of human life suddenly pushed off to the sidelines." Killing of civilians en masse and suicide attackers using civilian aircraft as weapons were probably things that some had thought about. But they were generally dismissed assuming that the moral price any attacker who used such methods would pay would to be too steep. That all changed on 9/11. Issues such as bioterrorism and dirty nuclear weapons aimed at civilian populations were openly discussed in the media. As life returned to normalcy, we endured months of heart-wrenching pictures from downtown New York, now known as Ground Zero. Travel changed dramatically - and those of us with Arabic names got to sample many of the embellishments. On top of that the country went to war and economic optimism quickly plummeted. In the ensuing months the bad news continued, including things like the Enron scandal and then the dissolution of Arthur Andersen, once thought to be about as golden as one could get. The great budget surpluses of a year or two ago evaporated. On the mechanics front we have witnessed extensive flooding in several parts of the country, and now raging wildfires in the Southwest.

The bitterness and disillusionment that set in has, I think, affected every one of us. At my home institution the Federal budget woes have been mirrored in State budget woes, and since we are a public institution, in University budget woes. I am sure my colleagues in the public universities elsewhere know exactly what I am talking about, because we are not alone. Our colleagues in the private schools have been somewhat sheltered from this fall-out, but surely have not failed to notice the mood change in the country at large.

I say all this not because you don't know it, probably in some cases you know it even better than I. I sincerely hope that none of you have had personal losses from the tragedies of 9/11, and if you have, I offer my heartfelt condolences. But even if you haven't, I suspect you all feel a sense of loss, grief, maybe anger and frustration, certainly unease. I can testify for my own part that much of my time over the past nine months has been preoccupied with dealing with the repercussions of things happening well outside my University. The world of science to which we belong is very international, maybe not with all that much representation from the part of the world most directly involved in the aftermath of 9/11, but we certainly see plenty of students from the Middle East, and we have lots of dialog with the scientific community of Israel. We have connections with scientists from Pakistan to some extent, and certainly with the scientific community in India at all levels. We have students and colleagues from Russia and the former Soviet Union, many of whom have quite different perspectives on much of what is happening in the world today. We have individuals with all kinds of religious beliefs and ideologies in our universities. Some of these beliefs are technically at war with one another elsewhere in the world.

Zhigang Suo's picture

A link to a website of Hassan Aref Memorial