William J. Rae, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, was inducted into the Niagara Frontier Aviation & Space Hall of Fame on May 13, 2016 in recognition of his long career in aviation. The annual ceremony has been a highlight for aviation and space enthusiasts in Western New York since its beginning in 1985.
While teaching the fundamental properties of aerodynamic ﬂight to students in his ﬂight dynamics class, Rae began developing a theory that explains why a football doesn’t ﬂy like a missile or a bullet. His theory demonstrated that “the ﬂight of a football is almost as complicated as the ﬂight of an airplane.”
Prior to joining UB in 1983, Rae worked for 30 years as a research scientist and engineer at the Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory, now known as the Arvin/Calspan Advanced Technology Center. In addition to teaching, he served as associate dean for graduate education of SEAS and chair of the mechanical engineering undergraduate committee. He retired in 2002.