Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
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AEM Mourns the Passing of Distinguished McKnight Professor Gary J. Balas

Gary Balas passed away on November 12, 2014. Gary was a faculty member at the University of Minnesota in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics from 1990-2014. He was an international leader in the field of experimental and theoretical control systems. Gary was a Distinguished McKnight University Professor and served as the Department Head for eight years. He also served as Director of Graduate Studies and Co-Director of the Control Science and Dynamical Systems Program.

Gary's research focused on the application of software-enabled control to uninhabited aerospace vehicles and on the development of robust, state-of-the-art algorithms and tools for control engineering. He was a visiting scholar and lecturer at institutions around the world and was a consultant to government and industry. Gary authored or co-authored over 70 journal publications, over 160 refereed conference papers and invited papers, and 10 book chapters. Gary taught numerous undergraduate and graduate courses, and was the thesis adviser for 36 Masters students and 21 Ph.D. students.

Gary was a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), an IEEE Control System Society Fellow, and a Fellow of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation Academic Leadership Program. He was the Chair of the Aerospace Department Chairs Association (ADCA) and an Honorary Member of the Hungarian Academy of Engineering. He was associate editor of the International Federation of Automatic Control's Control Engineering Practice Journal, associate editor of the AIAA Journal of Guidance, Dynamics, and Control, and served as a reviewer for many other international journals. Gary's honors included the Outstanding Young Investigator Award, the Institute of Technology George Taylor Distinguished Research Award, the IEEE Control Systems Society Technology Award, the O. Hugo Schuck Best Paper Award, and the Prize for Development of the Hungarian Aeronautical Science, among others.

Gary was a truly outstanding teacher, mentor, researcher, and leader. His leadership of the department was instrumental in bringing talented people to Minnesota and renovating our home in Akerman Hall. He will be sorely missed by the AEM Department and the University Community.

A memorial gathering in his honor was held on December 3rd from 3:30-6:00 p.m. at the Campus Club in the West Wing. A memory book was also made for the memorial service. If you want to share a memory, favorite story, or a note of condolence, please send an email to

In addition, colleagues and friends have established a Gary Balas Memorial Fund to support deserving AEM students. See for online giving. Checks may also be made out to the University of Minnesota and mailed to the Gary Balas Memorial Fund c/o Kathy Peters-Martell, University of Minnesota, College of Science and Engineering, 105 Walter Library, 117 Pleasant St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455. Form here.

Last Modified: 2014-12-04 at 12:05:14 -- this is in International Standard Date and Time Notation