Thursday, May 16, 2002

Obituary: Dr. Mikio Suo, GE Engines engineer

By Rebecca Billman,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MONTGOMERY — Dr. Mikio “Mike” Suo went from making gliders out of balsa wood as a boy to a career designing engines used in the Boeing 747 and the Joint Strike Fighter warplane.

        Dr. Suo, a retired manager of heat-transfer and fluid-systems design for GE Aircraft Engines, died May 5 of cancer. The Montgomery resident was 67.

        His research led to improvements in the systems that cool turbine blades in jet engines — essential to preventing the blades from melting, according to his son, Steve Suo of Portland, Ore. Dr. Suo's work resulted in more powerful and durable engines, and prompted interest in the use of gas turbines in ship propulsion and ground power generation.

        Dr. Suo also created computer models that predict gas flows and the temperature that engine parts would reach.

        A former colleague, Dr. Bill Heiser of Colorado Springs, said Dr. Suo “was individually responsible for keeping GE Aircraft Engines at the cutting edge of heat transfer technology.”

        Dr. Suo was named a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 2001 for his lifetime of contributions to the profession.

        But work was not his life. Family always came first.

        He “never missed a Little League game or evening math session,” recalled his son.

        He was born on a farm near Fresno, Calif., to Japanese immigrants in 1935. During World War II, his family was interned at the Jerome, Ark., and Gila River, Ariz., relocation centers. They returned to California after the war.

        After serving in Europe as a U.S. Army officer, he pursued a doctorate in mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

        Following a stint teaching at MIT, he was hired by Pratt and Whitney Aircraft in East Hartford, Conn. He moved to GE in 1981, where he managed more than 100 engineers in Evendale and Lynn, Mass.

        After his retirement in 1996, Dr. Suo spent time fly-fishing in Alaska, Montana, Oregon and Michigan.

        In addition to his son, survivors include Harriet Nicholson Suo. his wife of 39 years; a brother, Seiji Suo of Sacramento; and two sisters, Michiko Fukushima and Jane Suo, both of Fresno.

        Services are private. Interment will be in Amherst, Mass.

        Memorials: Hospice of Cincinnati, 4310 Cooper Road, Cincinnati, OH 45242 or the American Cancer Society, (800) 227-2345.


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