Haym Benaroya

Haym Benaroya, CE’76, is a Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Rutgers. He is the 2012 recipient of the Engineering Science Book Award from the International Academy of Astronautics for his book, Turning Dust to Gold: Building a Future on the Moon and Mars about manned space exploration and settlement. He was also awarded the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Aerospace Division 2008 award for Outstanding Technical Contribution. One of highest honors of the Aerospace Division, this award is given to an individual who has contributed substantially to advancing the state of the art in aerospace engineering, sciences and technology, and space exploration and construction with application to civil engineering.

Haym’s teaching and research at Rutgers include stochastic modeling and nonlinear dynamic analysis of structures in extreme environments, from deep offshore structures to lunar settlements. He has authored about 70 refereed journal publications and co-authored two textbooks and two research monographs with former students. Anne Ronan, CE’83, interviewed Haym by email to learn more about how his time at Cooper influenced his later career. Below is an edited version of the interview.

Why did you choose The Cooper Union?
I wanted to stay local to New York, so I applied to a number of local institutions, as well as to Cooper although I really didn’t think I would get into Cooper.  Not having to take on a lot of debt helped, although I was not too happy that Cooper was primarily a commuter school.
Describe how your career path went from earning a degree in Civil Engineering at Cooper to authoring an award-winning book about space exploration and manned settlement.
I was always interested in space exploration and the settlement of the solar system, but my civil engineering education at Cooper Union (B.Eng.) and University of Pennsylvania (M.S. and Ph.D.) focused on more traditional structures.  It wasn’t until I was several years into my job as a senior research engineer at Weidlinger Associates that I had some freedom to work on lunar structures on my own time. That was in 1988.When I joined Rutgers in 1989, I had flexibility in my choices of research activities so one area that

Haym Benaroya’s book, Turning Dust into Gold

I chose to focus on was the development of concepts for lunar surface structures as well as related studies. I felt that I wanted to write a book that an interested layman could understand, that is, no equations, but still full of references and high-level discussions. I finally published that book, Turning Dust to Gold: Building a Future on the Moon and Mars, in 2010. It was a great honor to be given the award by the International Academy of Astronautics for this work.

Have you written any other books?
I have written two text books with co-authors: Mechanical Vibration: Analysis, Uncertainties, and Control, Third Edition (with Mark L. Nagurka) and Probability Models in Engineering and Science (with Seon Mi Han).
How did your time at Cooper Union influence your career path and publishing history?
While I was still at Cooper I had not thought about pursuing a PhD but I did want to earn a Masters degree.  Because Cooper did not have a graduate program at that time I decided to go to University of Pennsylvania for my Masters.  While there, I decided to stay for the PhD, which ultimately led to my academic career.  Had Cooper offered a Masters degree while I was there, I would have likely stayed there and probably never pursued the PhD.
What is your favorite memory of being a student at Cooper?
I enjoyed the camaraderie of the small student body and that I was part of a class that stayed together for the duration. That also gave me an appreciation of a place like Penn that was huge by comparison.