Distinguished Stevens alumnus Aaron Cohen dies

Former director of Johnson Space Center was 79

9/20/2010

HOBOKEN, N.J. - The Stevens Institute of Technology mourns the loss of one of its most distinguished alumni, Aaron Cohen, who died on February 25.

A native Texan, Cohen attended Texas A&M University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. He served the United States Military during a tour in Korea and upon returning home began work at the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) in 1954. There he contributed to the development of a magnetron tube, that would be the heart of a revolutionary new kitchen appliance, the microwave oven. Cohen, along with two colleagues at RCA was awarded a U.S patent for work on a cathode ray tube for color television.

In 1958, Cohen completed a Master of Science in Applied Mathematics from Stevens. An event one year earlier, the Russians launch of Sputnik, that ushered in the space age, firmed Cohen’s desire to help the United States government send men into outer space.

During a career that spanned decades at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, Cohen held a variety of jobs including manager of the Command Module for the Apollo program and the Shuttle Orbiter Project and leading the Research and Engineering Directorate.

“When you met him, you knew you were in the presence of someone very special,” said Dr. Wiley J. Larson, Distinguished Service Professor, Assistant Dean and Director, Space Systems Engineering at Stevens. “Aaron Cohen's life provides an excellent example for all of us to follow.  He was a small-town boy that grew into a gentleman that had significant positive impacts on the space program both nationally and internationally. Through his leadership, coaching, teaching and exemplary ways, he improved the lives of thousands of people – family, friends, colleagues and students.”

Services will take place at Congregation Agudas Achim, located at 16550 Huebner in San Antonio. Graveside services will follow at the Agudas Achim Memorial Gardens, located at 1727 Austin Highway in San Antonio.

In 1986 Cohen was appointed director of the Johnson Space Center, a post he held until his retirement in 1993. In his last year with NASA, Aaron also served as Acting Deputy Administrator at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

In 1982, Stevens conferred upon him an Honorary Doctor of Engineering degree. That was one of many honors and awards that would be bestowed upon Cohen during his professional life.

Following his retirement from NASA Cohen began working as a Professor of Engineering in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Texas A&M University.

Survivors include his wife, Ruth; three children and spouses, Nancy and Sam Santana, David and Miriam Cohen and Daniel and Joan Cohen; his adored and adoring nine grandchildren, Cara and Sammy Santana, Ariela, Rachel, Gabi, and Brooke Cohen and Carolyn, Brian, and Natalie Cohen.

For those wishing to make a donation in memory of Aaron, the family requests that memorial gifts be made to the Aaron Cohen Engineering Scholarship Fund at Texas A&M, which his wife and children established in honor of his 60th birthday. Checks should be made payable to the Texas A&M Foundation and mailed to 401 George Bush Dr., College Station, TX 77840-2811, with the scholarship's name noted on the check. Others may prefer to donate to Hospice Brazos Valley, which provided great comfort and kindness to Aaron in his final days. The address is 502 W. 26th St., Bryan, TX 77803.

About Stevens Institute of Technology

Founded in 1870 and celebrating 140 Years of Innovation, Stevens Institute of Technology, The Innovation University TM , lives at the intersection of industry, academics and research.  The University's students, faculty and partners leverage their collective real-world experience and culture of innovation, research and entrepreneurship to confront global challenges in engineering, science, systems and technology management.

Based in Hoboken, N.J. and with a location in Washington, D.C., Stevens offers baccalaureate, master’s, certificates and doctoral degrees in engineering, the sciences and management, in addition to baccalaureate degrees in business and liberal arts.  Stevens has been recognized by both the US Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security as a National Center of Excellence in the areas of systems engineering and port security research. The University has a total enrollment of more than 2,200 undergraduate and 3,700 graduate students with almost 450 faculty. Stevens’ graduate programs have attracted international participation from China, India, Southeast Asia, Europe and Latin America as well as strategic partnerships with industry leaders, governments and other universities around the world.  Additional information may be obtained at www.stevens.edu and www.stevens.edu/press.