Remembering longtime ARL Fellow – Dr. Dattatraya Dandekar

October 16, 2015

By Joyce M. Conant, ARL Public Affairs

Story Highlights

  • Dr. Dattatraya Dandekar, a research physicist, began working at the U.S. Army Materials and Mechanics Research Center in Watertown, Massachusetts, a predecessor of the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, researching "shock waves in condensed matter."
  • Throughout his life, he remained devoted to music and science. His colleagues at ARL attest to the ways he remained enthusiastic about research even after retirement.
  • In recognition of his many contributions to the Army, national defense and to science, his colleagues will remember him through an ARL Fellows memorial service. Details of the service are currently being planned.

Forty two years ago, Dr. Dattatraya Dandekar, a research physicist, began working at the U.S. Army Materials and Mechanics Research Center in Watertown, Massachusetts, a predecessor of the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, researching "shock waves in condensed matter." Although Dandekar officially retired from ARL in 2013, his longtime career continued until his passing on September 12. Dandekar was two days shy of his 82nd birthday. Dandekar is survived by his wife Natalie, daughter Sarala and two grandchildren. Natalie said she was by his side throughout his last day and watched as he passed away in peace and without pain.

Dandekar, who was originally from India, accomplished many things during his tenure. In 1982, as a visiting professor in civil engineering at North Carolina State University, he helped set up a shock wave facility and taught a graduate course. He also worked for several months at the Ernst Mach Institute in Freiburg, Germany. In 2001, he engaged in research projects at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge and at the Royal Military College of Science, Shrivenham.

Dandekar became an ARL Fellow in 1994, and eight years later (as an ARL visiting scientist) he taught probability and statistics at the United States Military Academy. He published more than 120 research papers in journals, books and conference proceedings. Most recently, he received the Paul A. Siple Memorial Award as co-author of the best paper at the 25th Army Science Conference. On July 1, 2015 he received his last award presented to him by Professor Yogi Gupta of Washington State University. The award was given to Dandekar by Gupta during a talk given to WMRD researchers about "understanding solids at high dynamic stresses and the scientific challenges and multiscale measurements."

Not only did Dandekar love research and science, he also had a deep passion for music. This led him to found a music circle in the Boston area. Blessed with a singing voice that spanned four octaves, he mentored young musicians, became close friends with more established singers and musicians and also composed twenty original works. In 2010, Learnquest Academy of Music presented Dandekar its Distinguished Service Award in Music for "being a nucleus and inspiration in bringing the practitioners of Hindustani and Carnatic music together and sowing seeds of continuous growth of Indian Classical music in the New England area."

Throughout his life, he remained devoted to music and science. His colleagues at ARL attest to the ways he remained enthusiastic about research even after retirement.

"Datta had planned to work on some of his unfinished work using the Dynamic Compression Sector at the Argonne National Laboratory. We recently finished a joint paper with Carnegie Institute on Brillion Scattering measurement of ALON (ALuminum OxyNitride) and were planning to work on some other crystalline solids," said ARL's Dr. Sikhanda Satapathy. "When I visited Datta at his home three days before he passed away, we spent over an hour discussing research and potential experiments to pursue. He gave me an article on surface science, which he had read recently and thought might be useful in my research. Datta's enthusiasm for anything scientific was contagious and exemplary."

In recognition of his many contributions to the Army, national defense and to science, his colleagues will remember him through an ARL Fellows memorial service. Details of the service are currently being planned.

ARL Fellow Dr. Shashi Karna shares some final words about his friend and colleague.

"If you did not know him, you would hardly ever guess how accomplished he was. And, despite his great accomplishments, he was the simplest, gentlest and most humble human being I ever met. Dr. Dandekar, as I called him, was also a very caring and encouraging person. Personally, for me, he was a source of inspiration," expressed Karna.

 

Last Update / Reviewed: October 16, 2015