In this issue we publish posthumously an article coauthored by Liviu
Librescu (1930–2007). This unassuming man stood out not only as a
research pioneer in many fields, but as an accomplished, warm, and
generous teacher and human being. Since 1986 he had been a Professor
of Engineering Science and Mechanics at the Virginia Polytechnic
Institute and State University in Blacksburg, VA, where he lost his
life on April 16 while saving those of his students. He left behind
his wife Marlena (photo) and his sons Aryeh and Joe.
Born in Ploieşti, Romania, a mere seven years after the
Jewish residents of that country achieved equality of rights, he soon
saw those rights taken away as the Nazi-aligned Legionnaire regime
took over. His father spent years in labor camps and the family
survived great hardship. After the War, Librescu continued his
studies and graduated in 1953 from the Faculty of Aeronautical
Engineering of the Bucharest Polytechnic Institute.
He then started his fecund research career at the Institute of Applied
Mechanics of the Romanian Academy of Science in Bucharest, at first
working on elastic shells but soon branching out into fluid mechanics
and aeroelasticity. In 1969 he obtained a Ph.D. from the
Institute of Fluid Mechanics of the same Academy. In the 1970s he was
again the target of government persecution, for refusing to pledge
allegiance to the communist regime and for trying to move to Israel.
He was finally allowed to emigrate in 1978, after the intervention of
Israel's Prime Minister, and joined the faculty of Tel-Aviv University.
In 1985–86 he spent a sabbatical at Virginia Tech and was
offered a professorship, so he moved to the United States and there
continued his research in aeroelasticity, thermal stresses and
composite materials. With 250 refereed journal articles in French,
German, English and Russian, an equal number of contributed book
chapters and proceedings articles, and a handful of research
monographs, Librescu is surely one of the most published authors in
Librescu's heroism during the Virginia Tech murders has been amply
chronicled. He was buried in Israel with honors, and was equally
recognized in Romania, whose president conferred on him on April 18
the highest civil order of that country, the Star of Romania (Grand
Cross rank), for his scientific accomplishments and his selflessness.
We asked his coauthor Karam Y. Maalawi, as well as his colleagues from
Virginia Tech, to write a few words in his memory, and we reproduce
IN MEMORY OF A VERY DEAR FRIEND
With great sorrow and deeply saddened heart, we mourn the
passing away of our teacher, mentor and friend Professor Liviu
Professor Librescu, a pioneer in the field of aerospace engineering,
helped me a great deal during my stay in Virginia. His scientific
guidance was invaluable to our research work.
Librescu's generosity extended to several of my colleagues at Virginia
Tech in addition to myself.
Such was his kindness and love.
His memory will remain with me the rest of my life, and I promise to
continue the work we planned to complete.
God rest his soul.
Karam Y. Maalawi
FROM HIS COLLEAGUES AT VIRGINIA TECH
Liviu Librescu died as he lived, devoted to his students and
his profession. He loved his position as professor, and gave himself
to research and teaching, solely for the love of it. His son, Joe,
says it best: “He was a scientist who did not work for money, but for
the pleasure he got from his occupation.” Always available to
students, a caring teacher and inspiring graduate advisor, his
last act was to sacrifice himself to save the students in his solid
mechanics class. On that gruesome morning, he blocked the door of 204
Norris Hall with his body and ordered his students out the window. He
saved all but one, and fell at last, pierced by several bullets.
We are thankful for all the years we had with him at Virginia Tech.
It was fortunate for us that he chose to spend his 1985 sabbatical in
our Engineering Science and Mechanics Department, and accepted the
department's invitation to join us permanently. He was a helpful
colleague, always ready to talk about research with anyone. His
attitude towards the profession was based on a deep devotion to
We miss him greatly. We will fulfill our mission with increased resolve
in order to honor his memory. He will not be forgotten.