Emeritus Professor Prof.Dr. Jaap Schijve passed away

News - 17 January 2023

Read the In memoriam

On Friday 13 January 2023, Emeritus Professor Jaap Schijve passed away at the age of 95. Professor Schijve graduated from TH Delft in 1953. After graduating, he worked at the Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR), where he rose to the position of Head of the Department of Structures and Materials. He obtained his PhD in 1964 and became Professor of Aircraft Materials at TU Delft in 1973. Schijve was a true pioneer in the field of fatigue and damage tolerance of aircraft materials and structures. Together with Roel Marissen and his later successor Boud Vogelesang (died in 2019), he co-invented the innovative material Arall and was active with colleagues in its further development into the highly fatigue-resistant Glare.

He officially retired in 1992, but remained associated with the department for conducting research and supervising PhD students and students. In 2001, he published his comprehensive book on the wide diversity of fatigue problems that can occur in structures, titled: Fatigue of Structures and Materials. A Chinese translation of this globally highly successful book was published in 2014 and a Japanese translation was recently published. Schijve received several awards and honours, including a knighthood (1992). On the occasion of his 80th birthday, the Jaap Schijve Award was created for young academic talent.

What characterised him according to colleagues was also, above all, the respectful and friendly way he treated colleagues and students.

In 2018, Schijve said farewell to the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering for real and moved to Zeeland with his wife Janine. There, he passed away on 13 January 2023.

We wish his wife, children and relatives much strength with the loss.

On behalf of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering,

Henri Werij, Dean
Rinze Benedictus, Department Chair Structures and Materials
René Alderliesten, section leader Structural Integrity & Composites

In memoriam Prof.Dr. Jaap Schijve 1927-2023

Jaap Schijve was born in Zeeuws Vlaanderen on 12 May 1927. Since the early days as a child , he was driven by his never ending curiosity. After high school he started his study Vliegtuigbouw at the Technische Hogeschool Delft, at which he obtained his degree in 1953. Before he graduated, he already had his office in the structures and materials department of the Dutch Aerospace Laboratory NLR. After several years, he became head of this department, where he studied and interpreted fatigue problems that could lead to disastrous failures in aircraft. In 1964 Jaap obtained his PhD degree.

After 20 years at the NLR, Jaap accepted the position of Full Professor Aerospace Materials, a position he already had as Distinguished Professor. In this position, Jaap made significant contribution to reshaping the education of students, particularly stimulating them to address the questions: Why do I perform this research, and what do I learn? and Who can use the results?

His passion for educating students is illustrated by the fact that he declined to become Dean - meetings would keep him away from students -, but instead accepted to chair the education committee. At the time, Jaap had to deal with the government’s decision to shorten  the curriculum from 5 to 4 years, while maintaining the same quality standard. Not an easy task!

In materials research, Jaap was closely involved in the development of the fibre metal laminate Arall, co-invented together with Boud Vogelesang (his successor) and master student Roel Marissen. Here, his work on fatigue performance of laminated aluminium material with his first master student Harry van Lipzig paved the way to this development. With Boud, Jaap remained involved in the development of the fibre metal laminate Glare, succeeding Arall, which later was applied by Airbus on the A380.

During his career, Jaap built a great name and reputation in the field of fatigue . He is not only praised and remembered for the significant contribution of his research and his knowledge, but people particularly remember him for his personality, his kindness, openness, respectfulness, and trustworthiness. In 1969, Jaap Schijve was the first recipient of the Plantema Medal, a career award named after Dr. Ir. Frederik Johan Plantema, the founder and first general secretary of the International Committee on Aeronautical Fatigue. Between the years 1979 and 1992, Jaap fulfilled the position as general secretary of ICAF, a community that was close to his heart.

After his retirement in 1992, the year when he received the Ridderorde van de Nederlanse Leeuw (knighthood of the Dutch Lion), Jaap continued his research and education activities without being troubled by meetings and other organisational formalities. Education, and particularly interaction with students, gave him joy and satisfaction. Initially paid, Jaap continued on his request as scientific volunteer. In 2001 he published his book on ‘ Fatigue of Structures and Materials’  with Kluwer, of which a second and revised edition saw the light in 2009, published by Springer, who took over Kluwer. Until this day, this book is the textbook for the masters course on Fatigue of Structures and Materials, which is also offered as an online course.

For his book he received in 2010 the prestigious Textbook Excellence Award from the Textbook & Academic Authors Association. A Chinese translation of his book was published in 2014, while in the recent years effort was put in translating his book in Japanese. Impatiently, Jaap had been waiting for that translation with the words ‘I hope I can still experience that’. Halfway November 2022, Jaap finally received the Japanese version of his book.

In 2015, Jaap published a booklet with Springer on ‘Biaxial Fatigue of Metals, The Present Understanding’. He deemed most literature on this subject a waste of energy, because authors didn’t explain the phenomena well, nor did they provide reliable prediction methods. This characterised the way Jaap learned and developed knowledge in research; whenever he felt people needed education, he stood up and taught. Always present with his modest but energetic spirit.

Jaap supervised about 130 students and 17 PhD students. On the occasion of his 80th birthday, TU Delft and the NLR established the biennial Jaap Schijve Award for young and talented academics in the field of aeronautical fatigue, presented during the ICAF symposium. In the first decade of the Award, he remained involved as advisor to the selection committee.

For many years, Jaap worked on lectures for the post-academic course on fatigue of structures and materials, a course to which he kept contributing with a closing lecture until 2014. In 2018, Jaap decided to stop working after noting that some of the recent tests performed by technicians in the lab and studied in the scanning electronic microscope by Frans Oostrum, did not reveal the information has was so eager to observe. This meant, that Jaap would still visit the faculty, but less frequent as before.

After years of switching between their houses in Pijnacker and in Retranchement in Zeeuws Vlaanderen every two weeks, in 2018 Jaap and his wife Janine  decided to move back permanently to the place where they were both born. While moving house, Jaap realized he couldn’t move everything, which made him start decluttering (‘ontspullen’ as he called it). This was  the very first sign that Jaap had started to retire emotionally from the subject of aeronautical fatigue.

We remember Jaap Schijve as an inspirational teacher and scientist, who always approached colleagues  with respect, even in case of disagreements. We had academic debates and intense discussions, after which Jaap always expressed his appreciation for our friendship, and for that RenĂ© was his successor developing the subject of aeronautical fatigue further.

When it comes to our core values, inclusivity and safety in research and education, Jaap Schijve will remain an example and a role model for many students, researchers and professors to come.

We will certainly miss him, his friendship, and the pleasant conversations beyond the subject of fatigue.

René Alderliesten and Rinze Benedictus

Delft, 17 January 2023


Photo © Sam Rentmeester