Dr. E. C. Fitch started his engineering career as a journeyman machinist before entering the military in W.W.II. After leaving the service, he pursued engineering studies that led to three degrees. With an M.S. degree in mechanical engineering in hand, he set out to gain a broad background in fluid power by working for various companies that were involved--Jersey Product Research Corp., Boeing Aircraft, Deere & Company, Cincinnati Milacron, and Cessna Fluid Power. With this diverse background, Dr. Fitch was encouraged by his Dean to establish both an academic and research program in fluid power at Oklahoma State University.
Dr. Fitch personally initiated nine graduate level courses in fluid power which enabled him to offer an advanced degree program which soon became one of the largest such graduate centers in the world. Over 100 companies donated money and equipment that allowed him to establish research laboratories. During his 35 years of tenure, his program produced several hundred fluid power engineers. He personally advised over 30 doctoral, at least 70 master degree students and countless undergraduate students.
In order to provide a hands-on research opportunity for his students, he started a contract research center in 1956 that became the Fluid Power Research Center (FPRC). At least 150 industrial company and 15 governmental agencies sponsored research that provided financial support for students at all levels plus subjects for their graduate thesis and dissertations. Of the three successful multi-year research programs he initiated, it was the Basic Fluid Power Research (BFPR) Program that continued for 21 consecutive years and became known worldwide and sponsored by companies from more than 10 countries (25 companies from Japan alone).
For 18 years, Dr. Fitch headed teams of research engineers in formulating and developing 376 component/system performance/service life test procedures. Many of these procedures have become national and international standards. He served as member and chairman of half a dozen standards committees at the national and international level. For his 13 years as SAE Chairman of their Fluids and Contamination Control committee and 16 years as a member and chairman of several ANSI and ISO committees, he was elected a U.S. Delegate to ISO 13 times and honored by his peers by being name an SAE Fellow.
Dr. Fitch helped found, organize, and promote four currently active corporations specializing in hydraulic components, systems, and services. He continues to serve on the board of directors of three of these companies. One of these companies is Tribolics, Inc., an engineering company in which he conducts consulting work, does technical writing, and serves as an expert witness for companies in the hydraulic machinery field. He has had more than 250 consulting engineering assignments, 162 court cases (both liability and patent infringement cases), and has written in excess of 210 technical article sand 18 books in the fluid power area.
Dr. Fitch has been award 16 U.S. and 15 foreign patents and has 5 patent applications in process. He has been the director of 45 Educational and Research Conferences and has served as Editor-in-Chief of three international technical journals in fluid power.
Dr. Fitch is currently Emeritus Director and Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Oklahoma State University. He has received 15 major honors and awards from state, national, and international peer review groups for engineering accomplishments during his long professional career. Some of the most notable honors are as follows:
Wonders of Engineering Award by Society of Professional Engineers
Distinguished Educational Leader by Fluid Power Society
Named SAE Fellow for his leadership in standards work
National Achievement Award by the National Fluid Power Association
Awarded Honorary Professorship, Huanghong University of Science & Technology, Wuhan, China
Besides being recognized as an "Engineer of Distinction" by the Engineers Joint Council, he was named by the Board of Regents and faculty of his University as a Distinguished Professor in mechanical engineering for 11 years until he retired. Dr. Fitch is a registered professional engineer and holds a B.S. in Mech.-Petrol. Engrg, and M.S. in Mech.-Hydraulic Engrg, all from Oklahoma State University, and a Ph.D. in Engineering Science from the University of Oklahoma.
Is Dr. Fitch still active? Anyone who is aware of the 8 mammoth size books he is writing with Dr. I. T. Hong knows he has an ambitious professional goal of documenting the knowledge he has been instrumental in developing for his beloved fluid power field. He has already completed half of his goal and expects to finish the remaining books in the next three years.
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