Dewey H. Hodges

I was born and raised on a farm in Middle Tennessee. My parents taught me the old-fashioned work ethic they learned from their parents, and I honor them for that. Except for a B one semester in physical education, I made straight A’s through high school.

As deeply as I hungered for love and acceptance, my grades did not lead to my having friends or being well liked. On the contrary, I frequently felt rejected by my peers, having few friends. As a high school student I enjoyed math and science but little else.

My wise high school guidance counselor (Mrs. June Abernathy) advised me to consider going into engineering. I didn’t know what engineers do, but I took her advice and applied to several good engineering schools (including MIT, Carnegie, Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech, and the University of Tennessee).

Based on financial constraints I chose to go to the University of Tennessee at Knoxville (UTK). That was the best I could afford to do, even with scholarships and the help of my parents. The principal of my high school turned out to be of no help whatsoever with my college financial aid, telling one scholarship search committee that I was not a ‘well-rounded student.’

This reflected his bias that one not involved in athletics was a ‘nobody’ – which certainly angered me as well as my parents. (In retrospect, UTK gave me an excellent undergraduate engineering education.) I received a BS in AE from the University of Tennessee in June of 1969 — right as the bottom was falling out of the AE job market.

In my undergraduate studies I was supported by an Army ROTC scholarship, which came with a four-year commitment to the Army. My active duty could be delayed if I were to receive a fellowship of national or international significance to attend graduate school. I applied and was admitted to several programs, but the only financial assistance I was offered was a research assistantship at UTK.

The Army would most likely not have regarded it as a sufficiently eminent award to secure the delay. Moreover, no one on the UTK faculty was doing research in my areas of interest. My heart’s desire was to go to Stanford, but without a prestigious fellowship of some kind it wasn’t going to happen. I signed a commitment letter to attend UTK (just in case the Army would allow it) and decided to wait and see what would happen.

A week after the April 15 commitment deadline, I received a telegram from a Stanford professor offering me a NASA Traineeship (a prestigious fellowship of international significance). My UTK advisor, Dr. Mancil W. Milligan, ripped up my commitment letter and released me to go to Stanford.

The Army approved the delay, and I was ecstatic. I worked that summer at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and could hardly wait for fall.

At Stanford I earned an MS in June 1970. During my early quarters in graduate school, I shared an apartment with a couple of graduate students, Stan Glantz and Bob Avakian, both of whom were quite intelligent and at that time liberal anti-war activists. My roommates, the years of liberalism in the Methodist church I grew up in (despite my Christian parents’ best intentions), and the liberal guys I knew at the church I attended in Cupertino all helped to shape my thinking toward “liberation theology” so that I could not see the blatant conflict between Christianity and Marxism.

I eventually reached the point of being ready to rebel against the Army and against much of what my parents had taught me about patriotism and duty. I was angry, foul-mouthed, and devoid of peace of mind.

I met a young man whose consistent joy and talk of Jesus was something I had never seen. In December 1970 I had an encounter with the Risen Christ, which transformed my life. Filled with peace and joy, I for the first time in my life felt accepted by other Christians I knew. I received my Ph.D. in Jan. 1973.

I served four years in the Army and worked 12 years for the Army as a civilian, all 16 years of which were with an Army aeronautical research laboratory at Ames Research Center in California. I joined Georgia Tech in fall 1986 as a full professor.

My wife and I have been married 39 years, and we have five sons, four daughters-in-law, ten grandsons, and nine granddaughters ‘ including one pre-born grandson to be born soon. He is presently living a secluded life in the warmth of his mother’s womb, sucking his thumb and learning to recognize voices.

I enjoy piano, squash, table tennis, choral singing, philosophy and theology. I serve as a local church ruling elder in a congregation of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of the United States.

Some people are quite certain that a Christian cannot possibly be a knowledgeable engineer or scientist. Consider though that of the 56 universally acknowledged fathers of modern science, all but two professed faith in Jesus Christ.

In my courses we deal with Newton’s laws a good bit. Newton wrote many works in mathematics and physics. Newton also believed the Bible to be the word of God and wrote commentaries on some books of the Bible. I invite you to consider the life of the 18th century genius, Leonhard Euler, one of my favorite people in history.

Heard of e^{iq} = cos q + i sin q?

That’s Euler’s equation. You will hear of Euler’s dynamical equations in Dynamics, Euler’s equations of fluid flow (Low-speed aerodynamics), Euler-Bernoulli beam theory (“def bods”), Euler’s theory of column buckling (AE structures courses), Euler’s theorem on rigid-body motion, Euler rotation, and Euler parameters (Advanced Dynamics). He wrote 864 books and papers, more pages of scientific and mathematical text than any other human in history.

Most people do not know that he also wrote books on the Christian faith, some of which were published in several languages. He daily taught the Bible to his 13 children and many grandchildren. He did most of his work after having become blind. Euler believed, as I do, that without the presuppositions revealed in the Bible, it was impossible to make sense of life.

The most important person in my life is Jesus Christ, and the most important aspect of my identity is that I am His servant. I attempt to apply the Christian faith to every aspect of my life, including my profession.

There may be a few things about my teaching and the way I conduct myself that you find praiseworthy. If so, they are all because of Christ. There are most certainly things about me and about my courses that are imperfect and need improvement. These are there because I am a flawed human being — like everyone else. When my office door is open and if I’m not in a meeting already, you are welcome to come in to talk about my courses or anything else on your mind.

My life

  • Friends describe me
    someone who makes too many puns
  • Hobbies
    piano, singing, squash
  • Fantasy dinner guests
    The late Dr. Greg Bahnsen, Congressman Ron Paul
  • In college I drove
    1963 Ford Fairlane
  • Worst school subject
    thermodynamics
  • College for undergrad degree
    University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • Best advice I ever got
    I was told to NOT drop out of the PhD program to become a full-time evangelist
  • Favorite books
    Institutes of Biblical Law by R. J. Rushdoony
  • Favorite movies
    Cromwell, Luther, Braveheart
  • Favorite city
    Munich
  • Favorite coffee
    Torrefazione Italia,Palermo blend
  • If I were not a professor, I would
    probably seek to start a consulting business
  • Latest accomplishment
    I completed three books in just under four years.
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