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Aerospace engineering professor Ephrahim Garcia dies

Ephrahim Garcia

Ephrahim Garcia, Cornell professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, died Sept. 10 at the age of 51.

Garcia had research interests in dynamics and controls, particularly in sensors and actuators involving smart materials. As head of the Laboratory for Intelligent Machine Systems at Cornell, Garcia worked on projects ranging from modeling and analyses of flapping wings to energy harvesting for biological systems.

Before joining the Cornell faculty, Garcia was a program manager in the Defense Sciences Office of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency from 1998-2002. Before that, he was an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Vanderbilt University, where he was director of the Center for Intelligent Mechatronics.

Memorial service
A celebration of Garcia’s life will be held Nov. 7 at 3 p.m. in Anabel Taylor Chapel, with a reception to follow. 

From 1991-97, Garcia owned and operated a corporation now called Dynamic Structures and Materials, which designs and fabricates smart materials based on actuators.

He was the recipient of the AIAA (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics) Abe M. Zarem Advisor Award in Aeronautics in 2010 and received Merrill Presidential Scholar Advisor Recognitions in 2008 and 2010. In 2006, he received the Dennis G. Sheppard Teaching Award from Cornell’s Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

Garcia received his Ph.D. (1990), M.S. (1988) and B.S. (1985), all from the State University of New York at Buffalo, all in aerospace engineering.

Beyond his accomplishments in research and industry, Garcia was a gregarious colleague with a “huge heart” and a self-proclaimed desire to “mix it up a bit,” said colleague Mark Campbell, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. “His passion and impact on the students at all levels was tremendous.”

Just last year, Garcia advised three student project teams; ran a lab with many undergraduates, M.Eng. and Ph.D. students; and taught a large mechatronics class.

He was also a steadfast supporter of aerospace research within the department, and was involved in diversity causes, Campbell said.

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