Tódor (Theodore) von Kármán

(b.1881 Budapest – d.1963 Aachen, Germany)

Von Kármán received his primary and secondary education in Budapest and was regarded as a mathematical prodigy. Later, parental guidance steered him in the field of engineering. After receiving a diploma in mechanical engineering he went on to study aeronautical engineering and received a PhD from the University of Göttingen. During the years of WWI he continued his scientific work: had a substantial role in the preparation of PKZ (Petróczy-Kármán-Zurovecz) helicopters, and led the development of the first helicopter tethered to the ground that was able to maintain hovering flight. After relocation to the US, in 1930 he became the director of the Guggenheim Aeronautics Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, which later became the (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In 1933, he founded the U.S. Institute of Aeronautical Sciences. Probably his most notable achievement was the development of the first wind tunnel reaching sonic speed and the first rocket to have reached interstellar space. His mathematical breakthroughs made supersonic and space flight possible.

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