IN MEMORIAM: Phillip Muntz, Emeritus Professor of Astronautics

USC Viterbi Staff | August 4, 2017

Phillip Muntz, Emeritus Professor of Astronautics, passed away Aug. 1, 2017

At the retirement party for Professor Phillip Muntz. From left to right: Professors Joseph Wang, Mike Gruntman, Phillip Muntz, Joseph Kunc, and Dan Erwin. Photo/Mike Gruntman

Eric Phillip Muntz, emeritus professor of astronautics, passed away on Tuesday, Aug. 1, at the age of 83.

In a memo to USC Viterbi faculty and staff, Dean Yannis C. Yortsos said of Muntz, “He will be missed by his family, all his colleagues here at USC and beyond, and his students.”

Muntz received a BS in aeronautical engineering and both an MS and PhD in aerophysics, all from the University of Toronto, Canada. He joined USC’s Department of Aerospace Engineering in 1969 as an associate professor. After which, he was promoted to professor in 1971, was given an appointment in Radiology, and served as both co-chairman and chairman of Aerospace Engineering. After the Aerospace Engineering Department merged with the Mechanical Engineering Department in 1998, Muntz served as chair for the Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering Department from 2000 to 2003. In 2013, he joined the Department of Astronautical Engineering before retiring in 2014.

In addition, Muntz held appointments as the M.C. Gill Professor of Composite Materials from 1992 o 1994, and the A.B. Freeman Professor of Engineering from 1994 to 2014.

In 1993, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), and in 1994, he was elected fellow of the American Physical Society (APS). In addition, he was a fellow in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Through his research, he made ground-breaking contributions to experimental aerodynamics by developing electron beam fluorescence techniques, and to X-ray diagnostics in radiology. Additionally, he was one of the founders of USC’s gas physics research group and had over 25 patents.

Mike Gruntman, chairman of the Department of Astronautical Engineering, summarized the impact Muntz had while at USC: “An accomplished scientist and educator, Phil had a profound impact on his colleagues and particularly on students. He opened a way to the world of science and engineering to many USC graduates who successfully work today in academia, government centers, and industry.”

The Muntz family will hold a memorial service at a future date and, in lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at USC, or the National Academy of Engineering. A separate, USC memorial event will be held later this fall.