Kenneth J. Plotkin ’65
Dr. Kenneth J. Plotkin died on Friday, July 17, 2015, after a four-year battle with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He was 70 years old. Born and raised in New York City, Ken grew up in a loving home with his two parents, Moe and Sarah Plotkin, and his two older brothers, Henry and Charles Plotkin. Charles, Ken's twin brother, arrived ten minutes before Ken. Ken attended college at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, where he earned his bachelor's degree, and graduate school at Cornell University, where he earned a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering. In April of 1972, he began his incredible career as an acoustician at Wyle Laboratories. Ken worked at Wyle Laboratories for 43 years, rising to the position of Chief Scientist. During his time at Wyle, Ken did important work in the areas of aircraft and highway noise modeling, atmospheric sound propagation, community noise, rocket noise, high-speed fluctuating flow, truck tire noise, psychoacoustics, community noise, noise control, and sonic boom. He became a world renowned expert on sonic boom, a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America, and a Member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
In August of 1972, Ken married his wife, Barbara (Zesk) Plotkin, and the two were happily together ever since. Ken and Barbara enjoyed exciting adventures as a couple during the first several years of their marriage, including caving, skiing, and mountain climbing. In 1978, Ken and Barbara decided to embark upon a new kind of exciting adventure, and had a daughter, Sarah (Plotkin) Paul. Ken was a wonderful father to Sarah, and the two of them enjoyed many memorable times, including regularly visiting the duck pond, performing as a duo in tap dancing recitals, and working together to defeat many a computer game. In recent years, Ken had begun to impart his wisdom on his two granddaughters, Sophia and Charlotte Paul, ages 4 and 2, who he loved dearly.
Not only was Ken a brilliant acoustician and a loving husband, father, and grandfather, he was also a kind-hearted person with a wry sense of humor and a zest for life. Just two months before Ken's death, a United States Congressman arranged for Ken to ride in an SNJ-5 airplane as a thank you for the pro bono analysis that Ken provided of the expected noise levels at the National Mall from a historic aircraft flyover. Ken jubilantly described this airplane ride as the best one he'd ever had. Ken loved cars as well as planes, and was an avid fan of motor racing. Never one to underachieve, Ken went from watching car races to becoming an award-winning editor, reporter, and photographer for Motorsport.com. Ken's success in this area was no surprise to his family and friends, as they all knew that Ken couldn't help but excel in everything that he did.Ken will always be remembered as a beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, colleague, and friend. He is survived by his wife Barbara Plotkin; his daughter Sarah Paul; his granddaughters Sophia and Charlotte Paul; and his brothers Henry and Charles Plotkin.