Fourteenth International Workshop on Dynamics & Control

Professor Angelo Miele

Professor Angelo Miele is a member of the National Academy of Engineering (USA), the International Academy of Astronautics, the National Academy of Engineering of Argentina (Corresponding Member), and the Academy of Sciences of Turin (Corresponding Member). He is one of the very few individuals elected as a Foreign Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences in the field of mechanics. He has received numerous awards for his outstanding contributions to science and engineering including the Levy Medal of the Franklin Institute, the American Astronautical Society’s Brower Award, the Pendray Aerospace Literature Award and the Mechanics and Control Flight Award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and the American Automatic Control Council’s Schuck Award. He holds an Honorary Doctorate from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, and is an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He is also Fellow of the American Astronautical Society.

Professor Miele is one of the founding fathers of the modern fields of flight mechanics, guidance, and control. He is an indefatigable and outstanding teacher and researcher, and a scholar par excellence. His research interests include flight mechanics, astrodynamics, applied aerodynamics, guidance, control, system and optimization theory, numerical methods and computational algorithms. His research contributions have been marked by extraordinary brilliance, and they have had a very major impact on several fields: flight mechanics, analytical and computational control methods, and variational methods, among others. He has written 6 books, 250 journal articles, and authored 400 reports and contributions at scientific meetings.

Angelo Miele was born in Formina in 1922, the son of Salvatore and Elena Miele, and the grandson of Angelo Miele, a former mayor of Formina. His family moved to Rome in 1935 and he was educated there in the classics. In 1939 he entered the University of Rome “La Sapienza”, from where he earned two separate doctoral degrees in Civil Engineering (1944) and in Aeronautical Engineering (1946).

As a young man, Angelo’s love for aircraft design led him in 1947 to join the Military Aircraft Company in Cordoba, Argentina. Among his first tasks were the aerodynamic design of a propeller, and the preliminary design and flight performance of a training plane. There, too, he started his teaching career as a Lecturer at the School of Military Aviation, and at the University of Cordoba. During these years his research in the area of flight mechanics became well known and in 1952 he was offered a position at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, in the Aerospace Engineering department that was then headed by Nicholas Hoff.

Three years later, Angelo moved to Purdue University where he led a major research effort in the area of analyzing optimal trajectories for rocket powered vehicles. He was promoted to Professor of Aeronautical Engineering in 1958. It was at Purdue that he developed the general variational theory of flight paths of rocket-powered aircraft, missiles, and satellite carriers. Those were the hay days of the aeronautical industry and seeing the research potential available in the private sector, Angelo joined the staff of Boeing Scientific Research Laboratories as Director of Astrodynamics and Flight Mechanics in 1959. During these years he continued his work on flight mechanics and discovered, in the context of the restricted 3-body problem, the theorem of image trajectories in the Earth-Moon space: if a trajectory is feasible, three other specular image trajectories are also feasible. The “Miele body”—the slender body shape of minimum pressure drag for a given length and volume—discovered by Angelo during his tenure at Boeing has been tested by NASA both alone, and as part of wing-body combinations. His book entitled, “Flight Mechanics”, which has influenced a generation of aerospace engineers, was also written during these years.

Angelo joined Rice University as Professor of Aeronautics in 1964, and soon became the A. J. Foyt Professor of Engineering, Aerospace Sciences, and Mathematical Sciences. There he began by concentrating on the development of analytical and computational methods for problems of optimal control. It is at Rice that he met his wife, Gymme Elizabeth Odom—a most gracious and lovely lady, well befitting a charming and thorough gentleman. Soon, he expanded his research efforts to a more diverse set of areas: particular solution techniques, sequential gradient restoration methods, parallel particular solution methods, wave and wind identification, aero-assisted orbital transfers and flight experiments, and flight in windshear.

In 1967, noting the lack of an archival journal emphasizing optimization and the interaction between mathematics and the applied sciences, Angelo started the Journal of Optimization Theory and Applications (JOTA). His dedication to the journal and his unrelenting effort to improve its quality have made it one of the premiere publications in the field.

Italy has always been close to Angelo’s heart, and there is one thing that few may know. In the mid-seventies, Angelo participated in a public competition for three Chairs in Italian Universities: in mathematics, Analisi Numerica; in electrical engineering, Controlli Automatica; and in aerospace engineering, Aeronautica Generale. Even though the three fields are completely different, he won simultaneously the three competitions—a unique feat in the history of Italian Universities, and a testament to the breath and depth of his extraordinary scientific and engineering prowess. Sober reflection, and perhaps better counsel from his better half, made him decide to continue to remain at Rice.

Upon his retirement in 1993, Angelo was promptly reappointed as Professor Emeritus, and he has forged full steam ahead with both his research and teaching at Rice University, without missing a beat. With his insatiable curiosity, he has continued to expand his research activities and scientific excellence into new areas like, Earth-Mars flights, conceptual design of next generation spacecraft, optimization of ship maneuvers, and super-maneuvering jet aircraft.

Luckily for the engineering and science community, the Miele’s come from a lineage which has longevity and good health in its genes. The community therefore looks forward to many more years of Angelo’s active participation, his leadership, and his continued contributions to science and engineering. But more importantly, we, his friends, look forward to many, many years of much more—his congenial and helpful personality, his ever-smiling and energetic face, his cautious wisdom, his tremendous and contagious sense of humor, and the sheer enjoyment of being with, and learning from, a most charming and amazing gentleman!