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Professor Emeritus Jerome Milgram, a leader in ship design and hydrodynamics, dies at 83

A pioneer of technologies associated with oceans, Milgram shaped oceanography and fluid mechanics education at MIT.
Black-and-white headshot of Jerome Milgram
Jerome "Jerry" Milgram received his undergraduate degree from MIT in 1961. As a student, he served as captain of the MIT sailing team.
Photo of Jerome Milgram standing with his arm around the Americas Cup trophy
In 1992, Jerry Milgram was the design director and chief computer modeler for America3, which won the America’s Cup.

Jerome Milgram ’61, PhD ’65, professor emeritus of ocean engineering at MIT, passed away at the age of 83 on Dec. 21 with family by his side. Milgram pioneered ship design, hydrodynamics, and applied physical oceanography.

Jerome, also known as Jerry, was born in Melrose Park, Pennsylvania, on Sept. 23, 1938. His love of sailing began at the very early stages of his life. Milgram received his undergraduate degree from MIT in 1961, where he also served as captain of the sailing team. In 1965, he earned his PhD with a thesis that provided a theoretical and experimental foundation for absorbing plane water waves by means of a moving boundary at one end of a channel.

In 1967, Milgram joined the faculty at MIT, where he would spend the remainder of his career. As the W.I. Koch Professor of Marine Technology, Milgram taught courses such as 2.20 (Marine Hydrodynamics) and 2.25 (Fluid Mechanics) in mechanical engineering in addition to 6.003 (Signals and Systems) in electrical engineering for over 50 years.

Milgram also worked closely with the United States Navy and the Coast Guard. His research focused heavily on ship development, the behavior of oil spills in the marine involvement and cleanup technology (for which he holds 12 patents), the behavior of sea waves, the dynamics of underwater vehicles, and other topics. In 1992, he was the design director and chief computer modeler for America3, which won the America’s Cup. Milgram was instrumental to the team’s victory.

Over the course of his career, Milgram had more than 100 publications. A recent project detecting small plant and animal life forms in the ocean by computer-enhanced holography exemplifies the breadth of his interests.

Milgram is a life fellow of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers and a life member of the National Academy of Engineering. In 2017 the National Academy of Science awarded Milgram the Gibbs Brothers Medal for outstanding naval architecture and marine engineering contributions.

Milgram is survived by his wife, Robin; his stepson and daughter-in-law, Eben and Uromi Manage Goodale; his grandson, David Parakrama Goodale; his sister Linda (Milgram) Becker; his nephew Eric Ring and his wife Melissa Wallen; his late nephew Steven Ring and his wife Mary Ring; and their children, Andrew and Melissa.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Milgram’s name to Oceana, the largest international ocean conservation organization, or to MIT. There will be an online memorial service on Saturday, Jan. 8, at 10 a.m.; see postings on for details.

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