Dirk Martin Luchtenburg Named 2023 C.V. Starr Professor

POSTED ON: September 11, 2023

Professor Dirk M. Luchtenburg
Professor Dirk M. Luchtenburg.

Dirk Martin Luchtenburg, associate professor of mechanical engineering, has been named the 2023 C.V. Starr Distinguished Professor of Engineering. Awarded by the deans of the Albert Nerken School of Engineering, the named professorship goes to mid-career, tenured, associate, or full professor faculty members with documented research accomplishments including peer-reviewed journal, conference papers, and presentations as well as evidence of scholarly collaboration with other institutions and/or corporations. The distinction lasts for two years and comes with a $20,000 annual stipend for research activities such as travel, research assistants, equipment, and supplies.

The Starr Foundation, founded in 1955 by Cornelius Vander Starr, the visionary behind C.V. Starr & Co., Starr International Co., and various other enterprises, continues its philanthropic legacy under the leadership of Maurice R. Greenberg. The Foundation provides grants in a wide range of areas, including education, healthcare, public policy, human welfare, cultural endeavors, and environmental initiatives.

Luchtenburg earned his Master of Science degree in aerospace engineering from Delft University of Technology. Following that, he completed his doctorate in fluid mechanics at the Berlin Institute of Technology. After spending three years as a post-doctoral researcher and lecturer at Princeton University, he became part of The Cooper Union community in 2013 as a research fellow, eventually taking on a visiting assistant professor role. In 2015, he assumed a full-time faculty position in mechanical engineering. His interests span the fields of fluid mechanics, dynamics, and control.

Luchtenburg established the Dynamics and Control Lab at Cooper Union, a space where students engage in both playful experimentation and serious research. Here, they develop model-based controllers for advanced vehicles like quadcopters and ground robots. Luchtenburg actively involves undergraduates in various research projects, including enhancing the energy efficiency of boat propulsion and stabilization, demonstrating physical concepts using drones, programming multiple robot arms, and exploring smart vehicle technologies.

Collaborating with Thomas Impelluso, professor at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, and Mili Shah, professor and chair of Cooper's Department of Mathematics, Luchtenburg has pioneered innovative approaches to teach three-dimensional dynamics to undergraduate students. These methods have empowered Cooper students to contribute to published research projects. Luchtenburg has observed that Cooper students are remarkably inventive and talented, often generating their own research ideas. 

Luchtenburg strongly believes that undergraduate research opportunities are vital for realizing the vision of the Albert Nerken School of Engineering, which aims to produce graduates who are inventive, creative, and influential individuals making meaningful contributions to society and humanity.

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.