Oliver Franke, a senior lecturer of aerospace and mechanical engineering at the Viterbi School of Engineering, died Thursday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center of a heart attack.
“Oliver contributed greatly to our teaching mission,” wrote Viterbi Dean Yannis C. Yortsos in a memorandum sent to Viterbi faculty and staff on Thursday. “He was an outstanding instructor.”
Franke had received an engineering diploma and a doctorate from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in 2005 and 2009 respectively. Franke was with the Department of Materials Sciences and Engineering at MIT until he joined the USC faculty in 2010 as a visiting assistant professor.
Franke, who was named a senior lecturer in the fall of 2012, was married to Viterbi aerospace and materials science professor, Andrea Hodge.
“This has hit all of us very hard because [Oliver and Andrea] are very likeable people, and so it’s a significant loss for not only us but for [Andrea] as well,” Yortsos said.
Students in Franke’s classes remember him for his enthusiasm and eagerness to teach. Kevin Chan, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, was in two of Franke’s classes.
“He encouraged our participation and even went as far as to give us chocolate for our efforts,” Chan said. “He reminded me that teaching and learning is more so a dialogue than a speech.”
Vincy Chan, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, said that Franke was known for his ability to engage students in the classroom and inspire his students to become better engineers.
“I think my words fail to describe the impact Dr. Franke had on my academic and professional life,” Vincy Chan said. “He was truly one of the most inspirational and influential mentors I’ve had.”
Viterbi will hold a memorial service for Franke at the Caruso Catholic Center next week. The time and date are to be announced. Franke is survived by Hodge.
“It’s very sad to have one of your colleagues pass away, particularly at a young age,” Yortsos said. “His family and wife are in our thoughts and prayers.”