Robert Naka was known as “the father of stealth technology”
September 16th, 2016
COLUMBIA, Mo. – Officials at the University of Missouri today announced that Engineering Building West, located on Sixth Street on the MU campus, has been renamed F. Robert and Patricia Naka Hall after MU alumnus and donor F. Robert Naka and his wife, Patricia. Robert Naka, who passed away in late 2013, was known as the father of stealth technology. His research during the Cold War resulted in the ability of United States military aircraft to avoid radar detection. Naka’s impressive contributions to science led to him serving as chief scientist of the U.S. Air Force and deputy director of the National Reconnaissance Office.
“We are elated to memorialize a man of Dr. Naka’s character and stature on our campus,” said MU interim Chancellor Hank Foley. “Dr. Naka has made incredible contributions to science, his country and our university. I can think of no better person to honor in this way by renaming one of our primary engineering education and research buildings after him. I would like to thank Dr. Naka and his family for their support of this great institution.”
Naka was a long-time supporter of MU, serving as a founding member of the Engineering Dean’s Advisory Committee and a member of the Engineering Campaign Leadership Team. He was a life member of the Mizzou Alumni Association and provided considerable financial support to the university, including gifts to support scholarships for engineering students, an endowed professorship and improvements to College of Engineering facilities.
“I cannot thank the Naka family enough for their generous support of the College of Engineering,” said Elizabeth Loboa, dean of the MU College of Engineering. “Private support is critical as we continually strive to provide the space, infrastructure and cutting-edge technology needed to educate the next generation of engineering leaders.”
“It is an honor for our parents to have their names on this building,” said David Naka, son of Robert and Patricia. “We are grateful, and proud. It also is a privilege to be associated with the University of Missouri, and its leadership in providing education and opportunity to each new generation.”
Born in California, F. Robert Naka and his parents were among more than 120,000 Japanese-Americans imprisoned in internment camps during World War II. He was released to attend the University of Missouri in 1943, when the Japanese American Student Relocation Council, supported by the Quaker organization American Friends Service Committee, arranged for 4,000 college-aged Japanese-Americans to attend universities in the Midwest.
Robert Naka earned his bachelor of science in electrical engineering from MU in 1945. He went on to earn a master’s degree from the University of Minnesota and a doctorate from Harvard University before conducting research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the U.S. Air Force. Naka earned an honorary doctor of science degree from MU in 2008. Naka also was a member of the NASA Space Program Advisory Council, the U.S. Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, the National Academy of Engineering and was a four-time recipient of the U.S. Air Force Exceptional Service medal.