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Virginia Tech News / Articles / 2018 / January 

In Memoriam: Henry Tieleman, professor emeritus of engineering science and mechanics

January 24, 2018

Henry W. Tieleman

Henry W. Tieleman
Henry W. Tieleman

Henry W. Tieleman, professor emeritus of engineering science and mechanics at Virginia Tech, died Jan. 12. He was 84.

Born 1933 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, Tieleman spent his childhood and the difficult years of World War II in Oegstgeest. He returned to school at the war’s conclusion and began working on a Dutch tulip farm during the summers. Deciding to become a farmer himself, he enrolled in courses at an agricultural school in Dordrecht before emigrating to Canada in the 1950s.

Tieleman earned his bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering from the University of Toronto in 1961, during which time he discovered his interests and abilities were well suited to the field. He continued his education at the University of Toronto with an additional bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1962. He would go on to earn his master’s in mechanics and hydraulics at the State University of Iowa and a Ph.D. in civil engineering from Colorado State University. He joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 1968 as an assistant professor of engineering science and mechanics.

While at Virginia Tech, Tieleman taught a variety of courses in fluid mechanics, boundary layer meteorology, wind engineering, and bluff body aerodynamics. His research on wind behavior and its effects on structural integrity was funded by NASA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Together with colleagues at Virginia Tech as well as collaborators at Clemson University, the University of Florida, and Johns Hopkins University, Tieleman belonged to the Hurricane Loss Reduction Consortium’s Wind and Structural Engineering Initiative. These researchers aimed to reduce wind damage and increase building safety by incorporating their findings into regional and national building codes.

“Dr. Tieleman’s research stressed the need to model small-scale turbulence for accurate assessment of extreme loads on structures,” said Muhammad Hajj, the J. Byron Maupin Professor of Engineering and Associate Dean of the Graduate School at Virginia Tech. “His work resulted in new approaches for wind tunnel and numerical simulation of wind flows.

“He loved working with his students and colleagues,” said Hajj. “He always wanted to make sure that students were treated well and with respect. They loved working with him.”

Tieleman retired from Virginia Tech and was designated as faculty emeritus in 1997, continuing with research and advising activities long afterward. He was a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and American Association for Wind Engineering.

A man of many talents, Tieleman was an avid woodworker and gardener as well as an enthusiastic member of the Riner, Virginia, community. He later became an active figure in regional politics, founding the political action committee Democracy Prevails in 2004.

Tieleman’s family will celebrate his life on May 26 in Riner; all are welcome to attend. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Sojourn Center hospice house at P.O. Box 295, Blacksburg, VA 24063.

Written by Emily Roediger