The Michigan Engineer News Center

Congratulations to Dan Inman on being named Harm Buning Collegiate Professor of Aerospace Engineering

Former Aerospace Engineering Chair Dan Inman named Harm Buning Collegiate Professor of Aerospace Engineering| Short Read
EnlargeProfessor Inman touches a model of a bird
IMAGE:  Dan Inman, Harm Buning Collegiate Professor of Aerospace Engineering, explains how a model of an airplane wing changes its shape using materials that react to electrical current. Photo: Joseph Xu, Michigan Engineering

Congratulations to Dan Inman on being named Harm Buning Collegiate Professor of Aerospace Engineering through Feb. 28, 2024. Prof. Inman has been the with the University of Michigan since 2011, previously serving as the Chair of the Department of Aerospace Engineering and the Clarence “Kelly” Johnson Professor.

As a Collegiate Professor, Prof. Inman has the opportunity to choose whose name his professorship will carry from those who were faculty or alums of the department. He chose Prof. Harm Buning, who began at the University of Michigan in 1956. Prof. Inman cites a 1974 presentation Prof. Buning was his inspiration for pursuing a career in aerospace engineering. “Not only was he an outstanding aerospace engineer and had a tremendous influence on the early space program but he touched me personally,” Prof. Inman said about Prof. Buning. “He also embedded in my mind that Michigan Aerospace was the best place in the world to work.” During his almost 40 years at the University of Michigan, Prof. Buning became an expert in astrodynamics and mission analysis, and developed a national reputation in spacecraft design. He taught almost 2,600 Michigan Aerospace Engineering graduates, notably Gemini IV astronauts Jim McDivitt and Ed White, Apollo 15 astronauts Dave Scott, Jim Irwin, and Al Worden, and Skylab 2 astronaut Jack Lousma. Outside of the University of Michigan, Prof. Buning taught orbital mechanics to astronauts at NASA Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, TX. Here he taught, most notably, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. During his summers and sabbaticals, Prof. Buning shared his expertise with aerospace engineering departments at other universities and companies such as Boeing and Lockheed. Prof. Buning retired in 1992 and passed away in 2006.

A graduate of Michigan State University and Grand Valley State College, Prof. Inman has had a prolific career: eight books, eight software manuals, 20 book chapters, over 375 journal papers and 650 proceedings papers. He has given 68 keynote or plenary lectures, graduated 64 Ph.D. students and supervised more than 75 MS degrees. His impact on the aerospace community has been recognized both through numerous awards and by being awarded the title of Fellow by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the National Institute of Aerospace, the National Academy of Mechanics, the Society of Experimental Mechanics and the International Institute of Acoustics and Vibration.

Prof. Inman works in the area of applying smart structures to solve aerospace engineering problems including energy harvesting, structural health monitoring, vibration suppression and morphing aircraft. He is the principal investigator at the Adaptive Intelligent Multifunctional Structures Lab.

Professor Inman touches a model of a bird


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The electrons absorb laser light and set up “momentum combs” (the hills) spanning the energy valleys within the material (the red line). When the electrons have an energy allowed by the quantum mechanical structure of the material—and also touch the edge of the valley—they emit light. This is why some teeth of the combs are bright and some are dark. By measuring the emitted light and precisely locating its source, the research mapped out the energy valleys in a 2D crystal of tungsten diselenide. Credit: Markus Borsch, Quantum Science Theory Lab, University of Michigan.

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