NMSU engineering alum establishes endowment to support faculty chair

LAS CRUCES – New Mexico State University engineering alum Michael Gittings credits a former professor for changing the trajectory of his life. The experience inspired him to establish the Michael and June Gittings Endowed Chair in the College of Engineering.

The professor was Milan Cobble, who taught mechanical engineering at NMSU for 22 years. Gittings, who was not a graduate student or an engineering student, took a graduate course in numerical analysis in 1965. This course inspired Gittings, the self-described “terrible student,” to change his major from math to mechanical engineering.

In 1968 he had a summer job at the Nuclear Rocket Development Station at the Nevada Test Site. Using numerical methods learned in Cobble’s class, Gittings developed a superior method to solve a problem of interest. His boss was so impressed that he offered Gittings a job when he graduated the following year. This resulted in a job at Systems, Science and Software (S-Cubed) from 1969-1974 where he began working on and then developing computational fluid dynamics (CFD) computer codes. In 1974 he left S-Cubed with two senior scientists to form Pacifica Technology (PacTech). In 1987, PacTech was acquired by Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) where he started developing the RAGE (Radiation Adaptive Grid Eulerian) family of Adaptive Mesh Refinement CFD codes, and in 1994 he was awarded a contract to bring his work to the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

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