Herbert Kottler, 62, associate director of MIT Lincoln Laboratory, died at home in Concord, Mass., on July 23 after a prolonged illness. A funeral service was held on July 25 at Congregation Kerem Shalom in Concord.
"Herb Kottler's passing is a tremendous loss personally to me, to the laboratory and to the nation. His technical depth, leadership ability and unassuming manner will be missed by all," said David L. Briggs, director of Lincoln Lab.
Kottler specialized in sensor system design, testing and development, and he excelled at program administration in aerospace research and space exploration.
Before joining Lincoln Lab in 1969, Kottler worked at Vitro Laboratories in Silver Spring, Md., and the University of Pittsburgh. During his early years at Lincoln Lab, he served as leader of the Countermeasures Technology Group and manager of the Reentry Systems Program.
In the 1980s, Kottler was appointed a member of the Lincoln Laboratory Steering Committee and associate head of the Aerospace Division. In September 1984, he was appointed head of the Aerospace Division.
When he became assistant director responsible for Lincoln Lab space activities for the Air Force, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 1996, Kottler had already served on several NOAA advisory and review panels. In 1991, he chaired a national study assessing the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite NEXT Development Program. Kottler led the Independent Readiness Review for the first Hubble Space Telescope service mission and the Cassini mission for NASA. He received the NASA Public Service Medal in recognition of exceptional contributions in 1995.
Kottler became associate director of Lincoln Lab in 1998, with broad technical management responsibilities for space activities and ballistic missile defense activities. He worked to ensure the lab's discretionary research efforts were recognized and addressed critical advanced technology for national security. He also oversaw Lincoln Lab relations with the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Congress.
Kottler was born in Philadelphia and received the B.S. in electrical engineering from the Drexel Institute and the M.S. and Ph.D. in physics from the Case Institute of Technology. He served on the California Institute of Technology Jet Propulsion Laboratory Visiting Committee. He was a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the Sigma Xi, Tau Beta Pi, Eta Kappa Nu, and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies.
Kottler is survived by his wife, Janet; a daughter, Nina Kottler of San Diego; a son, Barry of Durham, N.C.; and a sister, Elaine Lipton of Washington state. Donations in Kottler's memory may be made to the Herb Kottler Memorial Scholarship Fund (2732123), Recording Secretary, MIT Office of the Treasurer, 238 Main St., Suite 200, Cambridge, MA 02142-9722.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on August 14, 2002.