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Profiles In Badassery: Elmer Bruhn

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One of the highlights of my Colorado adventure was adding Kaufmann Stadium in Kansas City as 19th Major League Baseball stadium I have been to. while the Royals and White Sox played to 14 innings, reader Matt Capria, a resident of Wichita, realized I was in the house and invited Mrs. T-Mill and myself over for a frosty beverage. During the conversation he had a suggestion for the next Profile in Badassery. I was only happy to oblige, so let's meet one of the great minds behind the School of Aeronatuics and Astronautics.

Elmer Bruhn 1891-1985

As you are well aware, Purdue's engineering program is top notch. In the fields of aeronautics and astronautics there are multiple Boilermakers doing wonderful things, most thanks to Bruhn. Bruhn joined the faculty in 1941 on the eve of World War II and was instrumental in expanding the department after the departure of George Haskins. He taught mostly structural design in aircraft and was critical in the 1943 Morrow aircraft project. He brought with him a BS from the University of Illinois in Civil Engineering and a Masters from the Colorado School if Mines:

After teaching mechanics and structures for five years at Colorado, he spent 12 years with North American Aviation and Vought-Sikorsky Aircraft Companies. He was deeply involved in several aircraft design projects for those companies, and at the time he joined Purdue was supervising the final design and construction of a long-range flying boat.

A long-range flying boat, you say? it sounds like someone liked Howard Hughes' idea for the Spruce Goose. Anyway, Bruhn was instrumental in upgrading Purdue's lab facilities and academic programs. This came at a time when innovation was important, as a little thing like World War II was going on. Many applications were taken directly to the field and applied.

Bruhn would be named as the head of the new School of Aeronatuics, which became independent in 1945. This school helped the new field of air transportation and provided education for thousands of soldiers returning from the war.

As the founder of the school, Bruhn's name adorns a yearly teaching award given annually to an Outstanding Teacher in the Purdue University School of Aeronautics and Astronautics. This award is somewhat unique in that it is voted on by the undergraduate student body.

So there you have it. it is safe to say Purdue's world-wide reputation was partially founded on Professor Bruhn's work.