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Felix Pawlowski

Felix Pawlawski

1876-1951

Felix Pawlawski was born in Warsaw, Poland on July 23, 1876. Tutoring from his mother laid the foundation for his life and education, which started with prep school in Poland, and then the Technical College of Mittiveide, Saxony, where he received a degree in mechanical and electrical engineering in 1897.

He worked as a designer and engineer in Poland until 1908 when he enrolled in the University of Paris to study aeronautics under Professor Louis Marchis. In 1910, Felix received the Certificate d'Etude from the University of Paris, France.

During the period of 1910 to 1912, Felix moved to the United States, built his first monoplane powered by a 3 cylinder, 27hp Angamii engine, and was employed as an automotive designer. Although he wanted to teach aeronautical engineering full time, Felix accepted a position as an instructor in mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan in 1912. In 1914, he received his Master's of Science in Engineering degree.

The courses taught by Professor Pawlawski proved to be extremely popular. By the 1916-1917 school year, the first complete four year program leading to a Bachelor Degree in Aeronautical Engineering was offered at the University of Michigan. During World War I, Professor Pawlawski was drafted to assist the military in aircraft design. Returning to the University of Michigan in 1917, he established a program for students drafted for military service to be qualified for preference into the Air Service. He was promoted to Associate Professor Aeronautics.

In 1929, with the completion of the wind tunnel in the East Engineering Building, Felix was appointed to the Guggenheim Professorship. Professor Pawlawski began emphasizing research such as the use of magnesium in aircraft structures and the use of the wind tunnel to test models for many aircraft manufacturers.

Felix became Professor Emeritus and a consultant at Douglas Aircraft Company in 1946. He died in 1951 in Pau, France.

Professor Felix Pawlawski was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation hall of Fame on October 18, 1997 for his long and dedicated career as an aviation education pioneer and a founder for the first U.S. aerospace education school-the Aerospace Engineering Department at the University of Michigan.

Smithsonian Institution Affiliations Program