Coming from a family where no one had ever been to college, David Hoeppner’s father who himself had little formal education could not understand why his son wanted to read every chance he had. Professor Hoeppner’s fascinating story takes us through the evolution of a dream to gain knowledge, to the reality of a man who literally and genuinely made a difference in the world we live. Emeritus professor, David Hoeppner joined the University of Utah as chair of the department of mechanical engineering in May 1985. He has an impressive legacy of 130 graduate students (84 MS, 46 PhD).
To fund his education, right out of high school Hoeppner worked as a laborer, then subsequently as a sand technician and later as a metal pourer. Plant engineers from those early jobs at Waukesha Foundry Co. (WI), shared their passion about materials of all types. He soon discovered engineering was for him. Early on, his thirst for knowledge and to share that knowledge with younger people became a great passion and part of his very core or his dream. Hoeppner chose to major in mechanical engineering at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI. In his words, “I will always be eternally grateful to my professors who took an interest in me with their nurturing and empowering attitudes. Learning the human side of engineering inspired me to go to graduate school and ultimately to become a university professor.”
As an undergrad, Hoeppner became extremely interested in studying the relationship between materials behavior, engineering mechanics and mechanical design with emphasis on aspects of reliability and quality. Professor Franz Vitovec accepted him into his very dynamic and aggressive program at the University of Wisconsin (UW)-Madison, to work on fatigue, creep, hydrogen embrittlement, and internal friction and damping, fracture behavior and fracture mechanics. Fatigue behavior was the topic of his thesis work. Along with his research assistantship Hoeppner received an instructorship, which continued to reinforce his dream of becoming an engineering professor.
Believing one cannot have much understanding of the design of mechanical devices for reliability and quality without developing a better understanding of statistics and probabilities and the concept of variability of material behavior and design integrity, Hoeppner took a second minor in applied math and statistics and probabilities. He says, “This turned out to be one of the wisest decisions I ever made in my studies as it held me in great stead and in all my employment and consulting and teaching it made the knowledge I was trying to communicate even more valuable.” Additionally he was a Ford Foundation fellow and a Wisconsin alumnae research fellow during his graduate study.
Upon successfully defending his dissertation, Hoeppner stayed on at UW-Madison as an assistant professor while furthering his research interests in fatigue, fracture mechanics, corrosion fatigue and fretting fatigue. That all changed that first year when a summer position with Battelle Memorial Institute (BMI) in Columbus, OH, turned into a permanent position.
Things moved pretty fast that summer and over the next several years (1964-69). Immediately Hoeppner started travelling to various facilities of NASA, USN as they were very involved in the Thresher submarine failure issues and fatigue evaluations connected with it, various jet engine issues for aircraft, numerous airframe issues, and of course the MOHOLE program. The MOHOLE project was a plan to drill through the earth’s crust from an offshore oil platform to get to the mantle to sample it. It was to drill through the Mohorovičić discontinuity in the crust – (example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Mohole, project lost funding and never completed). He spent time in TX, OK, LO and other areas including PA and OHIO learning about oil and gas drilling and transmission as well as off shore drilling. At this time Dr. Hoeppner started getting involved in design reviews for companies and the government.
“My first major failure assessment was a pipeline fracture that ‘initiated’ at a girth weld of a gas transmission line outside of New Orleans. One of my mentors, Mr. Tom Atterbury and I went to look at the failure in a swamp outside NO and naturally the company people there wanted me to get in the water with waders and photograph what I could and decide with Tom what we wanted back at the lab to look at. What happened there was then my first major human integrity issue related to structural integrity assessment!
I stood in the water stating, “I can already tell you the cause of this fracture.” They said, “What was it?” I said, “it was a lack of fusion area in the weld and the weld was obviously defective.” The company folks almost came out of their stable boat and said, “Don’t ever state that anywhere and don’t write it in your report.” I was astounded. It was such an obvious situation. Fortunately Mr. Atterbury came to my aid and said, “We will present the facts and you can decide what to make of it all.” As design reviewers we were not allowed to get into legal issues, which was often our main role at BMI (and still is today).”
Lockheed Aircraft Corporation California Co. (CALAC) faced many challenges related to fatigue and structural integrity so he made a change to go to work for Lockheed in 1969. Lockheed was building and supporting the L-1011 commercial wide body aircraft. Working with Lockheed from 1969-1974, Dr. Hoeppner noted, “One activity that changed my life significantly and led toward the attainment of the dreams I had when young was assisting large engineering efforts in assuring structural integrity of many of the critical components of that aircraft including the engines, which were made by Rolls Royce Aeroengine Co. (RR) in Derby, England.”
“My research team at Lockheed was doing extensive work on fatigue, fracture and related behavior of Ti alloys for aircraft, space vehicles and propulsion systems. In December 1972 Eastern Air Lines (EA) encountered an in-flight engine failure on one of the RR engines. The flight was going from NY to Miami but was able to make an emergency landing at Dulles Airport with no injuries. But Lockheed and the L 1011 operators and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and others were very concerned. Some of us were briefed and at the time no one understood why the first stage fan disc had exploded in-flight way short of its approved fatigue life for ‘crack initiation’ according to RR.”
On December 26, EA 901 crashed in the swamp on approach to Miami where unfortunately numerous people lost their lives. Initially some thought the accident was due to an engine failure but that was not the case. A couple weeks later flight TWA 28 from Chicago to LA had an in-flight failure over either CO or NV and made an emergency landing at Las Vegas. No injuries or fatalities occurred but the FAA and CAA were ready to ground all L1011 aircraft around the world. RR already had a team of people working to try to sort out what was causing the failure.
Hoeppner notes, “So off to Vegas we went and I could not believe my eyes when I saw the aircraft. I took many pictures and made many replicas of the remaining part of the disc at Vegas. This was one of the most intense work periods of my life as we were attempting to identify the cause of the two in-flight engine failures and also get substitute discs to the operating engines in the fleets and the engines in production.” As it turned out the British MOD (Ministry of Defense) and RR (Rolls Royce) personnel were following Hoeppner’s research at both Battelle and Lockheed prior to the failures, and started funding much of his research. Mr. Bob Jeal, was in charge of fracture mechanics and materials behavior at Rolls Royce at the time. “He and I were on the same wavelength during the first failures. We communicated extensively and became to this day lifelong colleagues and friends.”
While at Lockheed he taught the Lockheed engineering extension program (LEEP) as well as a workshop on applied fracture mechanics to the C5 independent review team. There were many occasions where Hoeppner was sent out on “design reviews and failure reviews” for Lockheed, various other companies, and US government agencies. He reflects, “Design and failure reviews turned out to be informative and active experiences. They were some of my numerous treasures to draw upon while in the classroom.” As if they were reading his mind, rather unexpectedly he was offered a position at the University of Missouri-Columbia College of Engineering.
Dr. Hoeppner joined the University of Missouri-Columbia (UM-C) January 1974 as a visiting professor of mechanical and aerospace, nuclear, and bioengineering. At a rapid rate both the Office of Naval Research and Lockheed provided research funds to get scholarly activity going. Before long he had numerous M.S. and Ph.D. students and was actively pursuing research grants and contracts from U.S. government agencies and industry as well as RR in England. At that time along with support of the University of Missouri, Professor Hoeppner started the first structural integrity and materials science center in the world.
Having no intention of leaving UM-C, some folks at the University of Toronto (U of T) and others had something else in the works. Dr. Hoeppner was approached about applying for an endowed chair in the mechanical engineering department and faculty of applied science and engineering at U of T. Additionally, along with U of T support towards NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada) funding, two major Canadian research labs committed funds (NAE-now IAR at NRC, and EM (energy and mines) Ottawa). In August 1978 he joined the University of Toronto where he held the endowed Cockburn professorship of engineering design and directed the Cockburn center of engineering design. He established the structural integrity, fatigue, and fracture research center with funding from the Connaught Foundation at $1.7 Million. Promptly activities were under way with many graduate students, undergraduate projects and colleagues.
During the transition period the USA FAA asked him to put together a workshop on aircraft structural fatigue. Hoeppner says, “We were awarded a contract from the FAA in early 1979 to put together a set of notes for the two-week workshop at U of T and conducted the workshop eight times prior to my return to the USA in 1985. The FAA moved the contract to the University of Utah where we conducted the workshop six times before taking it public in 1992.”
Hoeppner’s yearning to return to the United States was amid other factors, the belief he “should be more involved in ‘helping’ the USA educate students in the structural integrity area.” This led him to the University of Utah where he was appointed as professor and chair of the department of mechanical engineering. He held his chairmanship until 1992 to return to full-time professorship. Funding and several graduate students following him from Canada and soon they had set up the UofU structural integrity laboratory and material behavior laboratory. Additionally, Hoeppner became involved in the artificial heart program. In fact as early as June 1985 he conducted his first ‘design review’ of the EHTAH (electro-hydraulic total artificial heart) with emphasis on various reliability and quality issues. Equally impressive was the establishment of the quality and integrity engineering center (QIDEC) with a strong research program involving a number of PhD, MS and BS project activities.
As mentioned earlier, Professor Hoeppner, who officially took on the well-deserved emeritus status summer 2012, has an impressive legacy of 130 graduate students (84 MS, 46 PhD). Several who along with a few distinguished colleagues have below shared Hoeppner’s influence on their lives.
The Dream Lives On: Colleague and Student Remarks
My first encounter with Dr. Hoeppner was from a UCLA Extension short course – Fracture Mechanics and Material Fatigue. At that time, I wondered, “Who is this man, and why is he so passionate/intense about verbiage for how a fatigue crack forms?” Subsequently, I ended up taking some graduate courses from him at the University of Utah and having him chair my committee for a Masters degree. I learned, through sitting through his courses, why he is so intent on correct verbiage, ‘as it can save lives when people know what they are talking about,’ to paraphrase Dr. Hoeppner from one of his classes. As a professor, committee chairperson, and advisors, Dr. Hoeppner helped guide me through the technicalities of fretting, fretting fatigue, corrosion (many kinds), fatigue, fracture mechanics, quality, inspection issues, events (current and past) dealing with these topics, as well as many other things. More importantly, Dr. Hoeppner helped me understand the importance of education in engineering and in life, and calling things what they are – “It is what it is.” I am a better engineer and person because of that, and I am grateful to have studied under the guidance of Dr. Hoeppner.
Dr. Hoeppner is the most influential person I have met. His personality challenges me to be better, to think harder and broaden my horizon and to accept responsibility for my life and actions. He has had more impact on me than any teacher or mentor I have known.
Dr. Hoeppner completely changed my life focus from a possible path in management to a technical path during my first class with him in ME EN 7070 Corrosion and Tribology. His vision and vast knowledge inspired me in the impact engineers can make on the world. He personally championed my acceptance into the Mechanical Engineering Department as a graduate student, of which I am eternally grateful.
He championed, coached and mentored our Hill engineering team to develop a Hill AFB/U of U Education Partnership Agreement at times when it seemed hopeless. I can truly say without his influence, we would not have persevered to make it come to fruition. I admire that about him most is the encouragement, sometimes in the form of a kick in the pants, he provides to students and colleagues. He advocated for University of Utah classes to be taught at Hill Air Force Base, which builds on the cooperative effort.
Nicholas C. Bellinger
Structures Group Leader/Principal Research Officer
National Research Council Canada
Ottawa, Ontario Canada
I have known Dr. Hoeppner for over 16 years. At the beginning we worked together on several major projects dealing with aging aircraft structural integrity issues. From the talks that I heard him give during this time I became aware of the extent of his knowledge into aircraft structural integrity issues, particularly as it relates to age and environmental degradation. As Dr. Hoeppner so fondly says “Nature always wins out”. This simple but very truthful statement had a very profound effect on me. Over the course of my career, it has inspired me to concentrate my efforts into understanding aging aircraft issues; from the effect corrosion has on aircraft structures to how the aircraft operational environment will affect, over time, the new materials being used in the next generation of aircraft. However, the one thing that I will never forget and to which I am forever grateful are the long walks that we took together whenever we found ourselves in the same place. In fact, as time went on, we made sure that these walks took place whenever possible because they were very enjoyable and relaxing. It was during these times that we talked about his extensive career, lessons learnt and the history of fracture mechanics and fatigue. We would talk for hours during and after these walks. Well actually he talked and I mostly listened, very intently, absorbing all the valuable information. The enthusiasm he expressed in his profession was very contagious. It has been my friendship with Dr. Hoeppner that has inspired me to emphasize to the aerospace community the need to determine the effect that age and environmental degradation has on the structural integrity of existing and new aircraft. It also allowed me to participate in the development of a new physics-based life prediction methodology with various organizations around the world.
A Tribute to David W. Hoeppner, Ph.D., P.E. and Friend
By David W. Cameron, P.E. (inactive), Ph.D. (UofT, 1985)
Meeting David Hoeppner proved to be a life-changing experience for me. My first encounter with David was at the SAE Fatigue Course at Union College in Schenectady, NY (1976, I believe). The attraction was immediate: the direct approach, encyclopedic knowledge, insistence on the rigorous use of language, and contagious enthusiasm for the subjects at hand.
As things evolved, his interest, encouragement, and support in moving my family and me to Toronto to enable and affect my Ph.D. studies was exceptional. A very profound, personal thank you!
I had been struggling with several technical issues that David’s methods appeared to offer some remedy for. I was correct, but there were frequently no off-the-rack answers as much as there was the encouragement to investigate alternate perspectives. As always, if your interpretation does not support the facts, you had better examine your premises. Scrutinize everything clearly and openly, but not uncritically.
Technically David was always a wellspring of information that he was willing to share: contacts, suggestions, ideas, papers, samples, examples, amongst many other things. I particularly appreciated his grasp of the history on many topics (you gotta know the territory). David’s desire to integrate across a breadth disciplines was also a hallmark of his efforts.
Personally David was also forthcoming and friendly. His loving involvement with his family was always clear and we are delighted to consider them friends as well. They welcomed us to the Toronto area and this most desirable association survived the initial pandemonium engendered by my two rambunctious girls (right Sue?).
I always found David to be supportive, encouraging, leading by example and with integrity, consistent advocate of principled examination and evaluation, forthright and honest. What else would one ask for in a mentor and friend.
We do not always agree, but we do agree that our mutual respect can tolerate those discrepancies.
And so, from me (mostly), but also my family, THANK YOU DAVID
I had the privilege of doing my Master’s thesis, along with Robert Pilarczyk under the tutelage of two of Dr. Hoeppner’s Ph.D. students, Dr. Mark Thomsen and Dr. Paul Clark. From them we began our quest for knowledge on how material behave under the loading of service and within that context we began to feel the influence of Dr. Hoeppner through his students. Robert and I first met with Dr. Hoeppner in his little office down in the “basement” of the MEB. From that first experience with Dr. Hoeppner he defined for me what a real “Professor” is and does. To me he was Professor Dumbledore. The wise professor who’s whole objective was to build, lift and protect students. From that first meeting with Dr. Hoeppner I was hooked on trying to learn all that I can to try and become everyday just a bit more like him. I took all of his classes and have done two independent study classes through him and each one of those classes I have learned more and progressed more as a person and engineer than in any other program of study. Dr. Hoeppner has taught me more than just how materials behave, he has taught me how people behave in the world of engineering and science. This knowledge has been one of the most power tools in my life. It has opened my mind to see how to provide engineering solutions to problems that can be implemented in the real world, not just on paper or in some design review.
Dr. Hoeppner, thank you for being the person and professor that you are. Thank you for loving and helping students to become more than they thought they could. You have truly shown me what it means to be a professor and a professional. I hope that I can try and help to carry on your legacy to the next generation to show them and teach them what you have been so kind to teach me.
In 1991, I walked into Engineering Design with my fellow mechanical engineering students. We were greeted by an enthusiastic Professor Hoeppner and subsequently exposed to “Engineering Shock and Awe!” We walked out of the first class with mixed emotions like: “Wow, this is going to be interesting.”, “I like him!”, and “Who is this guy!?” By the end of the quarter all of us were nominating Dr. Hoeppner for “Professor of the Year.”
During winter semester 1997, after I returned to the University of Utah to attend graduate school, I was reintroduced to Dr. Hoeppner in “Fatigue and Creep Considerations for Design.” His passion for engineering was (and remains) addicting. It was during this course that my understanding of engineering and my role as an engineer became clear and a fire was started inside me to excel and to help others excel as well. The “…existential pleasures of engineering…” became apparent and so did my goals. After this reintroduction, I went to work for Dr. Hoeppner in the Structural Integrity Lab, where I remained until 2003, through graduate school and a two-year post doctorate opportunity.
Prior to working for and with Dr. Hoeppner, I enjoyed engineering, however I lacked the passion that is necessary to make a sound engineer, educator and leader. Dr. Hoeppner provided me with challenges and opportunities to prove myself. He does not “spoon feed” or “hand hold.” There is no time for it nor can one become self-sufficient until one has learned to fly solo. Receiving the occasional “K.I.T.A” and learning key phrases for tackling life like: “K.I.S.S.”, “Sin bastardum non carborundum.” “That’s research!” and “Cowabunga!” has been nothing short of extraordinary.
Coming to know Dr. Hoeppner has changed my life dramatically for the better. When I think of words to describe him, many come to mind; mentor (not strong enough), educator (yes, but not broad enough), idol (too false god like), and many others, however, the best word to describe him is “Teacher.” Yes, “Teacher” says it all.
Dr. Hoeppner’s presence will be missed at The University of Utah, but his influence will endure.
Charles (Torch) Elliott
Associate Professor – Lecturer, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Research Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering
University of Utah
I met David during the summer of 1986 when I arrived at the University of Utah after retiring from the Army. From day one, his honesty and high standards made me respect him even more than I would have based only on his accomplishments and position as Department Chair. Through the years, Sally and I have cherished our friendships with him, Sue and their family.
Dr. Hoeppner has an amazing ability to grasp and articulate physical concepts. As a result, his contributions rapidly gained him recognition as a world-class scientist in multiple fields long before I met him. However, to me his greatest contribution is his unceasing demand for honesty in the profession. Many times I have heard him describe situations where someone was making unsubstantiated claims, and he simply asks them to show him the data. In this search for truth, he shows great balance by respecting the works of his colleagues, but also by prodding them to increase the physical basis of their work. In areas such as the metal-fatigue community’s use of the non-physically-based procedures of “crack initiation” he has been frustrated by politics. In such cases, his contribution has been to continue to fight for what he knows is right, and to send a cadre of his students into the profession to continue the fight.
He supports his students as a good father supports his children. He sets high standards and is demanding, and yet is patient while allowing the students to grow mentally as they mature and progress through their learning processes. He is proud that he teaches using the Socratic method, and deserves to be. He guides his students as they teach themselves. He also takes care of his students in other ways to include financially. He certainly provided significant lab financial support. Also, my guess is that he periodically reached into his own pocket to pay his students, in which case they probably didn’t even know it.
There is a tendency to think of David as the great educator that he is, and forget that he also has huge impact on the aviation and other industries and government agencies throughout the world. He once told me that he signed his name as David W. Hoeppner, P.E., Ph.D. because he was a P.E. first. Yes he was, and is.
Thank you David for all that you have done and will continue to do.
When I was in the final stages of completing my master’s degree at the University of Utah and in one of Dr. Hoeppner’s classes, I had attended class one afternoon wearing interview attire. He inquired if I was looking for a job. He encouraged me to talk to him about continuing on for a doctorate; I had never really considered this seriously before. I set up a meeting time with him and was immediately interested in the possibilities. The research being performed at the time was corrosion fatigue related, in which I had personal interest, used the latest in lab testing and control equipment and explored fundamental areas of science. It was a great opportunity for me, and I took full advantage of it.
While in Dr. Hoeppner’s lab, I learned valuable research skills and put into practice the knowledge gained in my graduate courses. I had opportunities to travel internationally with his sponsorship to the 2003 International Committee on Aeronautical Fatigue Conference and Symposium and various Holistic Structural Integrity Process workshops which helped build connections within the aircraft structures community that were a tremendous building block to begin my career. Under Dr. Hoeppner’s tutelage, I learned firsthand how much he valued strong ethics, which he lived personally:
- Search for and promote truth no matter the cost.
- Always do what is right.
- Stand up for what you believe in.
- Don’t be afraid to admit what you don’t know.
These values inspire me regularly to continue on and fight for the things that are important in my current position, as well as provide motivation to continue on in a technical career field that is not always easy.
I will always be grateful for the knowledge, both technical and personal, that I gained from studying with Dr. Hoeppner. He was never afraid to share insights with his students, listen to our ideas and celebrate our accomplishments. Many hours were spent in his office discussing various topics or in the lab as we showed him our latest research breakthrough. We always knew what he expected from us, which motivated me to do my best. Dr. Hoeppner prepares his students to finish their university studies and progress to be contributing members and leaders in the engineering community. I am proud to have been one of his graduate students and look forward to our continued interaction. Without Dr. Hoeppner’s influence and mentoring, I would not be as well prepared for my chosen career and likely would be on a very different path. I cannot thank him enough for the learning experiences and amazing opportunities he helped me to envision.
(below notes taken from Thomas Marquis presentation DWH 70th.ppt)
Started dating Lynne at Michigan State in Fall of 1984 – She told me all about her Dad. Her descriptions created quite a reputation. I met him at MSU work office while he was visiting his daughters at school. Little hard for me to tell with limited contact, but I saw him more and more at family events while dating Lynne. During dating years, we had good conversations about the future. Found things in common (engineering, scouts, Midwest working class, etc.) He was always very nice, but I sense he was a little protective. He kept an open mind and tolerated me, as Lynne and I found our way. After undergrad, I worked at Goodyear CAD/CAM. Lynne worked in Chicago. We stayed together visited Utah for ski trips. Eventually, Dr. H introduced me to other professors at the U. Rather than school at night, I moved out to the U and studied control systems. Did research on MEMS sensors. Dr. H gave lots of encouragement most of the time, and a kick in the pants once in a while when I needed it. Lynne also moved out for school. Not Dr. H’s student, but I learned a lot from him in and out of school. I went off to Boeing in Seattle, but continued dating Lynne. Since similar industry as Dr. H’s Lockheed and research work, he continued to teach me career things outside school. His experience helped me see the bigger picture. Also helped me notice things that others might not see. I further saw how he taught others IN life, and ABOUT life. We had good dinner discussions. He was always willing to listen to ideas & opinions, even if he knew they were young and foolish ideas or opinions.
After many years, they were still willing to welcome me in. I still vividly remember his slap on the back as he gave away Lynne. Not just “good man.” More like, you WILL be a good man. Lynne and I started new life in Seattle. I worked on Boeing flight control electronics; Lynne worked at an adult day center; and we visited SLC for fun. My work in flight controls lead to flight testing for first 777s. They were flying labs. I designed instrumentation and data acquisition networks. Wrote and performed certification flight tests for flight controls. I had great test flights. Wind up turns at 2.5 Gs. Lightning strike tests. Cabin control tests. Favorites: Single engine takeoffs at max weight. Will we fly or crash? Smoke control in cargo. Childhood dream job. Aircraft knowledge lead to customer engineering liaison and aircraft configuration sales. Avionics, Interiors, wheel systems, etc. Handled Cathay Pacific, China Eastern, Korean Air, Myanmar Airways.
While working, I went to law school. Liked business of engineering – contracts, IP, etc. Commercial aircraft business not so good in late ’90s. Became attorney for FAA. Wrote CFRs, advisories, etc. Worked on international harmonization and plain language laws. Got start-up fever with Web company. Got out well before the crash and into the IP field full time. Now I do full IP work. I’ve worked on variety of things for MS, Yahoo, Nokia, National Semiconductor, University of Washington, Light Sciences, and start-ups. Current events: NPI v. RIM Re-exams. You might be interested to know that patent laws may soon change significantly. Good for big business. Dilute meritocracy?
Part of my work is also with expert witnesses. This has created another common interest with Dr. H. Although a busy professional, he makes time for family over the years. With each visit, it’s another chance to learn about other aspects of life. Especially with our 2 boys (7 and 3), I’m slowly learning to recognize other lessons of life from this holistic teacher that he disguises in simple joys. It’s amazing what I learn just observing fishing, dunking cookies, working together, telling stories, and testing our senses. You all know his sayings: Carpe diem. PMA-positive mental attitude. Don’t let the bastards get you down. Are they really clichés if someone truly believes in them? I hope I can reach such enlightenment someday. I’ve only had 20 years so far to evaluate the reputation that Lynne built up. So far, I’ d say she was pretty accurate. But not just wonder Dad. (and not just Daddy-O) Mr. Incredible. Thanks for your patience and inspiring example as a Professional, as a Husband, and as a Father.
By far, Dr. Hoeppner was the most influential professor I had at the University of Utah. His broad vision of how materials behave over time, and under a multitude of environmental and loading conditions permeate my work as a structural engineer and have profoundly influenced my teaching. I was fortunate to be exposed to his practical experience and tremendous talent in material behavior.
While typical engineering education focuses on the polished, equation-based solutions and most structural design is heavily code based, Dr. Hoeppner taught me how to go far beyond making things work, to making them last. I come back to his lessons in redundancy, degradation mechanisms, and how to interpret test data on a daily basis. This gives me the ability to function when the code leaves questions unanswered and escape the academic over-simplification of real problems.
It would be fair to say there is not a structure I have designed or class I have taught that wasn’t fundamentally influenced by Dr. Hoeppner. I am very grateful for the life education I received from him.
Paul McMullin, Structural Professional Engineer. Specializes in the efficient design of retrofits and new construction for a wide range of structures. His experience includes nuclear facilities, mine and port structures, and high-end commercial projects. He has evaluated hundreds of structures and designed a myriad of new and retrofitted structures for extreme seismic and blast forces. He has experience as an expert witness, and serves on the faculty of New Mexico Tech and the University of Utah. Dr. McMullin oversees Millcreek’s structural engineering projects.
Many things to learn
I saw Prof. Hoeppner for the first time at the International Committee on Aeronautical Fatigue (ICAF) in the 90’s. And it was first time for me to join the international conference. Before the conference, my colleagues taught me that the International conference was quite aggressive and there were many questions and argument. The style was much different from that in Japan. However, much of participants had neither questions nor comments in the conference. Only one old gentleman gave many comments to speakers and animated a discussion in the conference. That kind gentleman was Prof. Hoeppner. By his questions, the conference became lively same as the image which I cherished. I have seen his unchanged active character every year since.
About a decade later, I had an opportunity to do some research in the U.S. by financial support of an Japanese organization. Prof. Hoeppner welcomed me to join his lab. He, his family and members in his lab were kindly supportive of my stay where I learned much. That time became a key strength for my current research and development work. Worth noting is his impressive speech, which he conducted in his class at the end of the semester. “I understand that all of you learn much in this class, but please keep in mind that still you have many things to learn -as I have.” It has been about ten years since that time and I remember his words like it was yesterday, “Many things to learn.”
College of Engineering and Computer Science
Department of Ocean and Mechanical Engineering
Florida Atlantic University
I was reflecting on my career now that I’m reaching 60, and was thinking about all of the years of graduate school and work in industry and at my current University. All of it has its roots in the interest that was generated in me to go into the fatigue and fracture area as a specialty back as an undergraduate and then a graduate student at the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1974. I appreciate the opportunities that were provided for me at Missouri by Dr. Hoeppner, and the climate with which he allowed the “group” of us to operate. The ability to set up labs, to work with a large group of students, to be exposed to such a variety of projects, and to experience his excitement towards the research established a pride in all of us to be a part of that “group”. His ability to attract funding and provide support for so many at Missouri, Toronto and Utah is truly amazing.
The knowledge that he provided to me and the excitement with which he provided it has continued to flow to students that I have been associated with over the years.
I am responsible for the primary senior design class (besides engineering materials, a manufacturing course, and the graduate fatigue and fracture mechanics courses). In it I bring a design to prevent failure approach and introduce fatigue and fracture, failure analysis and the importance of materials and manufacturing to all of the students in our program. I still get excited in class as I present these topics to the students and I realized that this comes from my experiences at Missouri and the interest Dr. Hoeppner generated in all of us. His ties to industry and the presentation of “real-life” information and examples showed me the importance of my experiences at Bell Helicopter and Pratt & Whitney Aircraft and bringing that to the classroom.
Dave has had a major impact on my career and the enjoyment that I have had being associated with this area of specialty all of these years. I want to thank him not only for myself, but for a long list of others (Roger, Dale, Art, John, Larry, Greg, Sharon, Kevin, Rick, Kon, …) who I know have experienced the same through his influence.
At one time or another, everyone reflects on who their favorite teacher in their life has been. For me, the answer is easy – my Dad, Dr. David W. Hoeppner. My father, my professor, my advisor.
First he was my father. Dad has always been my sisters’ (Laura and Lynne) and my greatest champion. Growing up he made me feel that I could do anything. During my freshman year at the University of Utah, he and Mom encouraged me to stick with engineering, even when the going got tough. They made me feel that I could succeed. So I kept at it until I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (minor in French). At that point, I knew I was not done with my education and that I wanted to earn a Master’s Degree, as my sisters had done in their fields of study. There was no one else that I really even considered having as my advisor except my Dad. I believe that growing up with dinner conversations revolving around Rolls-Royce, Lockheed, and Boeing; fatigue, corrosion, and fretting (oh, and “initiation” and “nucleation”, inside joke for Hoeppner students) and summer jobs working for FASIDE and the University of Utah in high school ingrained in me a love of the field of material behavior. It was not easy to gain acceptance by the University of Utah for me to have my Dad as my lead advisor for my Master’s work (a little concern of theirs of nepotism – I wonder if I were male if it would have been so difficult). I had to have five professors as opposed to three on my committee. I did it though. Hey, it was just two more extraordinary professors that I was able to have the privilege of working with while doing my thesis. And I loved graduate school – receiving a 4.0. I had my dad for several classes: fatigue, corrosion, fracture mechanics, quality. I made life-long friends with my dad’s graduate students. There were times when he demanded a lot of them (and me) but he cared for each and every one of them (and still does).
Dr. Hoeppner taught me not only about material behavior, quality and reliability, holistic structural integrity but he also taught me, as a father, how to be a moral person, a contributor to the world, a parent. I could not be more proud of my dad and his career and I am happy that I have been a part of it for the past 14 years working with him. He deserves a long and happy retirement of telling the same stories over and over (and amazingly he still comes out with new ones from ages ago), after giving so much to the University of Utah and the world.
I along with many others took Mechanisms (ME 382) in the winter of 1989. I was nearing the end of my undergraduate training and was not committed to a specific area of interest. I had also not really thought too seriously about graduate school. After sitting in Dr. Hoeppner’s class, I began to connect with his passion for engineering and metal fatigue in particular. So much so that in the spring term, I enrolled in a special topics course that he set up for us, Fracture and Fatigue Mechanisms. From that point on, I was hooked and began to acquire a passion for fatigue and fracture of metals. I didn’t realize it at the time but it became a life changing period for me.
Because of the interest I was gaining in material behavior, and Dr. Hoeppner’s passion for sharing his interest, my graduate school experience was superb. We had interesting projects, tools, and support to pursue our goals in a very stimulating environment. This set a great example for what would become a rewarding career as both a practitioner and educator in behavior of materials. I, as well as many others, have endeavored to pass on his example and passion for the topic to subsequent generations of engineers as graduate advisors, colleagues, and mentors. His influence across the aerospace industry, specifically, is profound when you consider the personal contributions he has made in the development of current leaders in the field and to those who are indirect benefactors of his efforts in teaching.
I came to the United States to study engineering. I graduated with a bachelor’s in Chemical Engineering and started to work in industry since my senior year. After a few of years in industry I realized that I was not done learning, so I decided to go to grad school. I decided to try Mechanical Engineering, since many subjects are in common, and that would increase my marketability. I took a class of corrosion and tribology from Dr. Hoeppner, and I knew that I had made the right decision. His teaching style had a tremendous impact in the way I looked at engineering. I received a few books that he provided to recognize student’s efforts. Not only was he concerned with teaching engineering principles but also how to be a better engineer and a better person.
We had several conversations at a local restaurant nearby the U, where we had lunch many times, to talk about school, work and life. He suggested that I should think about completing a Ph.D., that it would be one of the best decisions in my life. I thought about it, and since I did not want to quit my job, I decided to do both. I followed his advice and now that I completed the program, I am very thankful for his guidance. My future career goals are based on his recommendations.
Dr. Hoeppner is the best professor that I had in my academic journey; he is also my mentor and my friend. I will be forever grateful for his advice, guidance and friendship.
Carlos Arriscorreta, Ph.D., CQE