Joseph H. Engel

May 15, 1922 – May 29, 2011

Brief Biography

Engel Presidential Gallery Portrait

Joseph H. Engel was the seventeenth President of the Operations Research Society of America (ORSA). Born in the Bronx, Engel was a lieutenant in the United States Army Air Corps. At the start of World War II, he was stationed in the Pacific and served as a navigator on B-29 heavy bombers, flying thirty nine missions over the Pacific islands and Japan. Engel crash landed on Tinian of the Northern Mariana Islands and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with Three Oak Leaf Clusters. After the war, he went on to earn his PhD in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin. Engel became an analyst with the Operations Evaluation Group of the US Navy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Engel served as Director of the Center for Naval Analysis and the Communications Satellite Corporation prior to becoming head of the Systems Engineering Department at the University of Illinois, Chicago Circle Campus. Over an eight year period he built up the university’s operations research program. Engel returned to the Washington area to lead the National Bureau of Standards Mathematical Analysis Division.

In addition to being President of ORSA, Engel oversaw the growth of the professional operations research community through a variety of other positions. He helped create Omega Rho, the national honor society for operations research, serving as that organization’s second president in the late 1970s. Engel chaired a number of committees and was an associate editor of Operations Research.

For his contributions to military operations research, Engel was awarded the 1986 Jacinto Steinhardt Prize of ORSA’s Military Applications Society. He was recognized for his dedicated service to the professional OR community with the George E. Kimball Medal and was named an inaugural Fellow of ORSA’s successor, the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences. Engel was enamored with Japanese culture and pursued a large number of hobbies. He suffered from a stroke in 2007 that slowed down his active lifestyle and passed away in Silver Spring, Maryland in 2011.   

Other Biographies

INFORMS. Miser-Harris Presidential Gallery: Joseph H. Engel. Accessed May 15, 2015. (link)


City College of New York, BS

University of Wisconsin, PhD 1949 (Mathematics Genealogy)


Academic Affiliations
Non-Academic Affiliations

Key Interests in OR/MS

Application Areas

Oral Histories

Sheldon R (2015) Military Operations Research Society (MORS) Oral History Project Interview of Dr. Joseph H. Engel, Military Operations Research 9(2): 59-96 (link)


Washington Post (2011) Obituaries: Joseph Engel. June 3. (link)

Awards and Honors

Jacinto Steinhardt Prize 1986

George E. Kimball Medal 1992

Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences Fellow 2002

Professional Service

Omega Rho, President 1978-1980

Operations Research Society of America (ORSA), President 1968

Selected Publications

Engel J. H. (1954) A verification of Lanchester's law. Journal of the Operations Research Society of America, 2(2): 163-171.

Engel J. H. (1960) Operations research for the U.S. Navy since World War II. Operations Research, 8(6): 798-809.

Engel J. H. (1969) Brains and personality. Operations Research, 17(5): 761-769.

Engel J. H. (1974) The philosophical underpinnings of computers and operations research. Computers & Operations Research,1(1): 3-7.

Engel J. H. (2001) Lanchester's Equations. Gass S. I. & Harris C. M., eds. in Encyclopedia of Operations Research and Management Science, 437-440. Kluwer Academic Publishers: Boston.