Paying it forward with the influential work of alumnus H.S. Ribner

Chris Yip, David Ribner, Tom Siddon, and Christopher Damaren standing with the Ribner Award plaque
Chris Yip (Dean of Engineering), David Ribner (H.S. Ribner’s son), Tom Siddon, and Christopher Damaren (UTIAS Director) celebrate the unveiling of the H.S. Ribner Memorial Scholarship.

Students wishing to attend the U of T Institute for Aerospace Studies will see their graduate careers off to a flying start with the creation of a newly endowed award to support research in the field of aero-acoustics and aerospace.

The H.S. Ribner Memorial Scholarship honours Professor Emeritus Herbert Spencer Ribner, a man who inspired a whole generation of students and faculty around the world with his research in aeroacoustics and jet-noise.

“Herb was a giant in his field, a spirited and diligent researcher,” said the Honourable Tom Siddon, a former student and friend of Ribner who led the campaign for the award. “But he was also personally committed to helping students along with their development in their careers.”

The campaign for the award raised $70,000 and will later receive a 50 per cent match from the University, bringing the endowment to over $100,000 for student scholarships.

“This scholarship is a celebration of the ingenuity of Professor Emeritus Ribner, whose research helped launch many innovations in aerospace engineering,” said Chris Yip, Dean of U of T Engineering. “His mentorship helped many students through their formative years, and it is fitting that this scholarship will continue to support the next generation of global engineering leaders.”

Ribner’s own career, which spanned six decades, included leadership positions at NASA’s Langley Laboratory stability section and Lewis Laboratory boundary layer sections, and a long tenure at UTIAS.

Among his acclaimed work, he is recognized for the report he coauthored in 1951 with Dorothy McFadden Hoover — one of the first Black women to co-author in NASA research publications. The report, brought to life in the 2016 biographical drama Hidden Figures, details swept-back wings, which are now a standard feature in the production of aircraft.

Today across UTIAS, there are other countless reminders of Ribner’s illustrious career, including the underground anechoic chamber – a direct product of his ingenuity.

Ribner’s passion for his work lasted up until the last decade of his life. After retiring from UTIAS, he published eight additional important research papers.

“As students, Herb helped us forge our own way of life,” reflected Siddon. “This award is a fitting way to pay it forward.”

This award is made possible thanks to the leadership efforts and generosity of Tom Siddon, Les Filotas, Werner Richarz, Len Schubert, Wing Chu, H.K. Lee, and Philip Morris and our community of alumni and friends.

If you would like to support the H.S. Ribner Memorial Scholarship donate online here or contact to learn more.