Norman B. Hirsh

For his outstanding engineering and business accomplishments in the aviation industry, the Purdue University Schools of Engineering are proud to present the Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award to Norman B. Hirsh

Executive Vice President, General Products
McDonnell Douglas Helicopter company
BSME '56


From his Purdue years to present

After serving in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers following graduation, Mr. Hirsh worked at Ford Motor Company and Convair Aircraft Company before joining Hughes Helicopter Company in 1962. He progressed through successive engineering and management positions at Hughes, becoming deputy program manager of the Advanced Attack Helicopter Program in 1981. He joined McDonnell Douglas Helicopter in 1984 as vice president and general manager of the AH-64 Program, and was appointed to his current position in 1986. Mr. Hirsh is responsible for four product lines with annual sales of over $800 million. As director of the General Products Division, he oversees the design, development, and production of the new Model 500 helicopter, the first new civil helicopter in 15 years, as well as the MDX project to develop a new light twin helicopter for executive and utility uses. Mr. Hirsh is active in several professional associations, serving recently as chairman of the board of the American Helicopter Society.

  • "I believe I left Purdue with a good, solid engineering background--I wasn't a specialist in anything and that allowed me a good deal of flexibility," says Mr. Hirsh. "At first I was entranced with cars. I took several courses in automotive engineering and remember thinking with my friends that we were going to be 'automobile guys.'"

  • "In fact, it was on kind of a lark when I went into helicopters and aviation--but I found this is what I enjoy doing the most."

His advice to the graduating engineer:

"Try to develop and understanding about the rest of the world--because the world is now the marketplace as well as the competition."