College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Aerospace Engineering faculty member R. Ganesh Rajagopalan passes away

Photo of R. Ganesh Rajagopalan
R. Ganesh Rajagopalan

The Department of Aerospace Engineering (AerE) and Iowa State University College of Engineering are mourning the death of Professor R. Ganesh Rajagopalan, who passed away March 19.

A highly regarded researcher, he was responsible for unique contributions to rotorcraft, wind energy systems, and computational fluid dynamics (CFD). He and his students have made significant and wide-ranging contributions to the field of CFD.

He was an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and a lifetime member of the Vertical Flight Society (formerly American Helicopter Society) as a Gold Circle member (which recognizes pioneers and leaders in the helicopter industry) since 1985. He also received the Alfred Gessow Forum Best Paper Award at the organization’s Forum 61 in 2005.

He was a technical consultant for numerous corporate interests and a reviewer of archival journals for many publications.

Rajagopalan joined the Iowa State AerE faculty in 1985 as an assistant professor and was promoted to associate professor in 1991 and professor in 2001. He was recently recognized by Iowa State’s 25-Year Club for his 35 years of service to the university.

Prior to joining the AerE department faculty he was a lecturer, teaching fellow and research assistant at West Virginia University, where he received his Ph.D. in aerospace engineering in 1984. He received an M.S. in aerospace engineering from the Indian Institute of Science in 1978, a B.S. in aeronautical engineering from the Madras Institute of Technology in 1976 and a B.S. in mathematics from Madras University in 1973.

Rajagopalan was a dedicated teacher of aerospace engineering and shared his knowledge in a wide range of subject matter that included aerodynamics, gas dynamics, computational fluid dynamics, aircraft performance and flight dynamics, and wind energy, and he made major technical contributions the field of wind energy.

He has been credited with numerous research citations, more than 70 research publications, 18 journal articles, and more than 50 conference papers from events around the world. He was principal investigator, co-principal investigator or investigator on more than 30 grant-supported research projects.

Rajagopalan graduated 37 Ph.D. and M.S. students and taught numerous undergraduate and graduate-level courses during his time in Iowa State AerE.

Due to COVID-19 precautions, there will be no public visitation and a private memorial ceremony will be held. Further information will be published on the Department of Aerospace Engineering Facebook and Twitter (@ISU_AERE) pages as it becomes available.