Mark Darlow


By Kevin Craig


Dr. Mark Darlow died on 27 December 1995 after a long illness.  The news first reaches us from his wife, Myra.  Mark, Myra and their sons Adam and Eric lived in Israel were Mark was a professor at the Technion- Israel Institute of Technology, since he left Rensselaer in 1991.


Mark Darlow started mechatronics research at Rensselaer almost as soon as he joined the faculty in 1981.  At that time, personal computers were only recently enjoying their newfound status as the de facto laboratory experimentation workhorse.  Professor Darlow’s main research focus sought to exemplify the potential use of composite power-train shafts in helicopters to reduce their overall weight and increase their reliability, culminating in publication of his text “Balancing of High-Speed Machinery”, in 1989 (Springer-Verlag).  His work in the area of composites fabrication and his signal processing quickly led him to explore use of the computer for instrumentation and measurement, subjects he first introduced to undergraduate mechanical engineers at Rensselaer in the course “Computer-Aided Experimentation.”  This was arguably Rensselaer’s first course teaching the fundamentals of what we now call mechatronics.


When Professor Darlow left Rensselaer in 1991, he asked me to take over his course, which I renamed Mechatronics and added design and control concepts to its content.  At the Technion, Professor Darlow helped to teach their first mechatronics courses and found their newly-outfitted Mechatronics Laboratory.


Professor Darlow’s High-Speed Rotor-Balancing Laboratory was converted into Rensselaer’s Active Materials and Smart Structures Laboratory.  His extensive library of notes was a valuable jumpstart for the Smart Lab’s application of embedded active materials within the matrix of composite structures for vibration control.  His extensive research efforts using personal computers for specialized process controls also left the refurbished lab with much useful equipment for mechatronics.


In early April of 1996, in tribute to Mark Darlow’s outstanding contributions to the genesis of mechatronics at Rensselaer, his wife and sons created the special Mark Darlow Memorial Award in Mechatronics.  This year, two students who made outstanding contributions to the success of the mechatronics curriculum at Rensselaer, Jeffrey Pfiffer and Andy Lutz, were each awarded $250 in recognition of their achievements.


I miss Mark very much as we kept in touch after he left Rensselaer.  He was a superb engineer, a gifted educator and a most generous and kind man.  May Mark find eternal happiness with the one God of us all and my God give strength and comfort to his wife and sons in the months and years ahead.