Remembering Professor Doug Hittle

A colleague to some, a mentor to others, but a pioneer to all. This is how Dr. Doug Hittle, mechanical engineering professor emeritus, will be remembered by the department. His professional contributions, as well as his integrity and sense of humor, made an everlasting impression on those with whom he worked.

Doug Hittle, Professor, Mechanical Engineering Faculty, February 21, 2008

It is with a heavy heart we announce the passing of mechanical engineering professor emeritus, Dr. Douglas Carl Hittle, who was a faculty member in the department from 1989 to 2010. Dr. Hittle died earlier this year, on May 4, at the age of 70. He was raised in Champaign, Ill., but, was born in Fort Collins, Colo., in 1947.

In 1989, he returned to Fort Collins to teach at CSU and complete the last leg of his already-accomplished career. He retired in 2010, boasting numerous achievements in the field of environmental conservation.

Dr. Hittle attended the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign for his B.S. and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and M.S. in environmental engineering. He began his career in 1969 at Chanute Air Force Base in Illinois as an engineer. Other career highlights included research in the environmental protection and energy conservation fields at the U.S. Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratory for more than 13 years. At USA CERL, Dr. Hittle received the Achievement Award for developing a computer program that estimated the performance of buildings and their energy systems; the BLAST program is widely recognized and used internationally. Also while at the USA CERL, he built and operated a large HVAC test facility as a research team leader, among a variety of other research initiatives.

In 1986, Dr. Hittle joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University in Indiana as an associate professor. There, he conducted research in building energy systems and taught thermodynamics. He participated in the development of new course material and initiated and supervised the design and construction of classroom demonstrations.

Dr. Hittle is survived by his daughters Jessica Marshall and Jocelyn Hittle; former wife, Anita Hittle; grandchildren; brothers; and many nieces and nephews. “Dad was both no-nonsense and a big fan of nonsense – he had high standards when it came to his work, but loved to crack jokes,” said Jocelyn Hittle. “We will miss him.” In his personal time, he enjoyed woodworking, travel adventures, good food, and exploring Colorado’s mountains. His family remembers his happy-go-lucky personality and his passion toward his professional endeavors. “He always put us to work helping him build and fix things. He was a mechanical engineer at home too,” remembered Marshall.

In 1989, Dr. Hittle joined the faculty of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at CSU. Along with teaching thermal science and control systems in the mechanical engineering department, he was the director of the Solar Energy Applications Laboratory where he focused on solar energy systems, energy conservation, air conditioning system control, desiccant cooling, and energy system simulation. “He expanded the research areas at the lab to include building systems as well as solar energy,” ME Professor Allan Kirkpatrick remembered. “We worked together on problems involving cold-air distribution and glove boxes. In addition to being technically very rigorous, Doug was insistent on high-quality presentations.”

Right before retiring, he took an interest in artificial intelligence applied to buildings, phase change fabrics, and thermal storage floor tile. Over the years, his lab gained sponsors such as the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, Outlast Technologies Inc., and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers.

In 2005, Dr. Hittle became the director for the Industry Assessment Center at CSU and the associate director of the Colorado Wind Application Center for Colorado. During this time, he also developed a new course in wind power engineering.

Supporting other faculty was always a priority for Dr. Hittle, and that is evident when hearing his colleagues share their fond and funny memories of their times together. “The mechanical engineering faculty could always count on him to hold us to the highest standards and call out the elephant in the room, while making us laugh at the same time,” remembered ME department head, Dr. Susan James. “He was a great mentor, colleague, and friend who will be truly missed.” “I recall he would offer very good suggestions after all of my lectures. He had a sharp intellect,” recalled ME Professor Walajabad Sampath who taught the photovoltaic portion of one of Dr. Hittle’s courses.

“Dr. Hittle required that reports to sponsors be in white notebooks with an illustrative cover. I adopted this scheme, and for the last 20 years, all of my notebooks and reports are in ‘Hittle format’!” recalled Dr. Kirkpatrick.

“Doug was a great and passionate energy engineer who set very high standards for his research team and students,” remembered ME professor, Dr. Bryan Willson. “I was the first one in the department to have a cell phone in 1992. He started calling me ‘gadget boy’!”

“Continuing his influential mark in the department through a fund would have been important to Dr. Hittle,” said Dr. James. Dr. Hittle’s daughters wish to establish a fund in his honor to support study and research addressing global challenges in sustainable energy.

Please consider making an online gift in memory of Dr. Hittle, using the link below, and your gift will be directed to the Scott College of Engineering Memorial. Once the work to establish a fund in his name is completed, your gift will be moved to the new fund named for Dr. Hittle.