In memoriam: Dr Thurai Rahulan

This tribute to Thurai Rahulan, a much-loved and admired member of the EPC Board for many years, has been kindly written by Dr. Andreea Koreanschi, his long-standing colleague in Aeronautical Engineering at the University of Salford.


Dr Thurai Rahulan, esteemed scholar and engineer, passed away suddenly on the 22nd of February 2024, at his home in Summerseat. Thurai was born in Sri Lanka and moved to United Kingdom to pursue his academic studies, then proceeded to work across a host of institutions and created a legacy for linking people across countries and disciplines. He is survived by his wife, Eileen.

Thurai’s journey in UK started with a BSc(Hons) in Mechanical Engineering, in July 1979, from Salford University. He continued with his postgraduate studies, which earned him his PhD, and a place on a project to implement his research on the extension of feedback control technologies in multi-mode systems, funded by the British Ministry of Defence. Subsequently, he worked with Jaguar Cars Limited in Coventry and finally, he returned to Salford University, in 1990, as lecturer, where he contributed to the development of young engineers in aeronautics for the next 31 years, until his retirement as senior lecturer in November 2021.

Thurai had an active mind and his retirement did not mean, as he often desired, ‘just completely relax and do absolutely nothing after retirement except go on holidays and watch TV all the time’. He threw himself in organizing Multiphysics Conferences across the world, traveling to the USA to offer consultancy and joined the University of Staffordshire as a visiting fellow and external examiner.

Throughout his life, Thurai was involved and contributed to numerous institutions and committees: Honorary Chair for the Association of Aerospace Universities, Executive Board member for the Engineering Professors’ Council, Chair of the EPC’s Aerospace Sectoral Group for more than 8 years, Council member of the Royal Aeronautical Society and Chair of the RAeS Manchester Branch, TAS auditor for 20 years, member of IMechE ANW committee representing the views of the aerospace academics in the North West for 18 years, external examiner at Al Ghurair University in Dubai, and more.

He involved himself in many competitions for students and has left many memories in the minds of young people with his unique way of teaching and presenting difficult topics in an accessible manner. He loved talking about a wide range of aerospace related topics, and his talks were enjoyed everywhere where he was invited to give them.

By turns blunt, funny or serious about mathematics and engineering, Thurai touched many lives as a mentor, as a teacher and as a friend, and his passing leaves an indelible mark on all who had the privilege of knowing him. His legacy of service, scholarship, and compassion will continue to inspire and uplift all of us who have known him, and, though he may no longer walk among us, his spirit lives on in the hearts of those whose lives he touched.

A memorial service to celebrate Dr. Rahulan’s life and legacy will be held on 15th of March at 10:00 am, Rowlands Methodist Church, Rowlands Road, Summerseat BL9 5NF, followed by Radcliffe Crematorium, 11.30 (AKA East Lancashire Crematorium), Cemetery Road, Radcliffe M26 4EU. After that, a buffet at Park Farm Tea Room, Ramsbottom, Bury BL9 5NP. (Please contact Eileen if you wish to attend.)

The family kindly requests that donations be made in his honour to Northwest Air Ambulance and a school in Jaffna that Thurai has been supporting.

May his soul rest in peace, and may his memory be a blessing to us all.

We invite colleagues and friends to share their memories and tributes to Thurai in the comments below. Tributes can also be left here

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