First SGO Prof. of Gas Turbines
     A chair coming of age……

It was early January 1990 when Rob Praaning, director of VGT, called me and asked: “why didn’t you apply?”. I returned the question asking “for what?”. Rob explained his question, and I remembered a flight to LA in 1987, with Goof Wisse of Stork sitting behind me. Goof touched my shoulder and said: “VGT is going to form a foundation to finance a gas turbine chair at TU Delft”. I realized that this plan was now to become true, and that I was a candidate for the position.

What made it real was the VGT new-years’ reception in Zoetermeer on 25 January 1990. A memorable day, not only because of the extreme weather (I think we never touched the gale force of that day since), but because at this meeting the just established foundation SGO was presented.

Founding Fathers of SGO at the presentation on 25 January 1990.

After a tough procedure at TU Delft, I got my first letter of appointment in the summer of 1990, and could start my work in Delft on September 1st. Thanks to the fact that Cees Houtman was still maintaining the legacy of Prof. Stuart Mitchell, my start was a jump-start, building on existing experience. During the first years, focus was on lecturing and graduation work, often in connection with industry, following the wish of SGO to make young engineers available for their contributors and the gas turbine industry in general.

A large support to the chair was given by NLR, who made Ir. Wilfried Visser available to assist in lecturing and guidance of master students and PhD candidates. After Wilfried left NLR, budget for his assistance could be found in various sources. He is still active in gas turbine research and education, however now as Dr. ir. Visser, as he got his PhD in gas turbines in 2015.

Research started in 1996, when the chair was granted two PhD students from TU Delft budget. Later on, the budget for more PhD students was found by applying for government subsidies, often in cooperation with industries.

In general, large support was received from members of VGT/DGTA and contributors to SGO. It was more than pleasant to experience this from what can be called a “community”. There was always a positive response to any request for cooperation, which was mutually beneficial in many cases. This is perhaps typical for communities with such a clear focus on an interesting subject so well defined as the Gas Turbine. Moreover a subject so relevant for industry, aircraft and power, in times of the growing concern for fuel conservation and environmental issues.  

SGO now celebrates its 30st anniversary. During almost 22 years I was able to serve its goals and was part of the DGTA/SGO community. After my retirement in 2012, I still was promotor for 7 PhD students.

A lot has happened since that windy day in 1990. What started as a single person operation for 30 % of his time, grew to a real academic infrastructure of very knowledgeable scientists at both relevant faculties of TU Delft: Mechanical Engineering with prof. Sikke Klein and prof. René Peçnik and Aerospace Engineering with prof. Piero Colonna, prof. Arvind Gangoli Rao and Dr. Wilfried Visser.

This was all thanks to the positive and constructive community, consisting of industries, institutions and both faculties of TU Delft. I am proud of having been part of that community for so long. Special thanks must be given to the founders, the respective chairmen and board members of SGO over this 30 years, who always supported the chair actively.

Many Congratulations SGO

Jos van Buijtenen

Emeritus Professor of Gas Turbine Technology.