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Zucrow, Maurice J. (Maurice Joseph) (1899-1975) | Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections

Name: Zucrow, Maurice J. (Maurice Joseph) (1899-1975)
Fuller Form: Maurice Joseph Zucrow

Historical Note:

Maurice J. Zucrow was born in Kiev, Russia in 1899. His family came to the United States in 1912. He enrolled at Harvard University and received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1922 and his master’s in 1923. Zucrow received Purdue University’s first Mechanical Engineering Ph.D. in 1928 with a thesis titled, Discharge Characteristics of Submerged Jets.

After receiving his doctorate, Zucrow left Purdue in 1929 and acquired an outstanding reputation in industry, particularly in the areas of gas turbines and rocket propulsion. He played an important part in the research and development of the nation’s first gas turbine, built by the Elliott Company in 1942. During World War II, he also helped develop Aerojet Engineering Company’s JATO rocket, used by seaplanes to assist takeoff under adverse conditions.  While working at Aerojet, Zucrow was asked to teach a course in jet propulsion theory to engineers in the aircraft industry. The course, part of the Engineering, Science, and Management War Training Program (ESMWT) was taught at the University of California, Los Angeles, 1943-1944.

In April 1946, Zucrow accepted Purdue’s offer to return to West Lafayette, and he immediately began forming a course in jet propulsion. Since power plants had always played an important role in the Mechanical Engineering curriculum, the School of Mechanical Engineering proposed to hire Zucrow to take the lead in developing the jet propulsion field at Purdue. Since the knowledge of jet-propelled engines was essential for Aeronautical Engineering graduates at the time, Professor Bruhn proposed that Professor Zucrow be a member of both the Mechanical Engineering and Aero facilities, and that jet propulsion education and research be a cooperative program between the two schools. The proposal was accepted by the administration.

In 1947 Professor Zucrow’s main efforts were devoted to developing the undergraduate and graduate courses in gas turbines and jet propulsion, and he prepared the initial sets of notes for these courses, with the exception of the laboratory course.  By 1948, his groundbreaking text, Principles of Jet Propulsion and Gas Turbines, was published. The first textbook in the field, it extended Zucrow’s influence to engineering students throughout the world. By 1950 Zucrow and his associates from both the Aero and M.E. Schools had completed the first and second units of the rocket engine laboratory which was located near the west boundary of the Purdue Airport, and graduate study and research were well underway. Professor Zucrow’s efforts led to one of the most complete university laboratory’s in the United States. Professor Zucrow continued to make many valuable contributions to the School of Aeronautics, until he decided to join the Purdue Mechanical Engineering faculty full time in 1953.

At the time of his retirement from Purdue University in 1966, Professor Zucrow was responsible for the education of many students who have contributed much to rocket propulsion technology.

Zucrow passed away in 1975.


Grandt, A.F.; Gustafson, W.A.; Cargnino, L.T. (1995). One small step: The history of aerospace engineering at Purdue University. Purdue University: West Lafayette, IN.

Norberg, John, ed. (2013). Full Steam Ahead: Purdue Mechanical Engineering Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press.

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