In Memoriam: Aaron Cohen, Longtime UCLA Engineering Benefactor, 77
By Bill Kisliuk | March 25, 2014
Aaron S. Cohen ’58, a Southern California engineering entrepreneur and an influential and generous supporter of the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, passed away on March 21. He was 77.
The founder of National Technical Systems, Inc., Cohen supported his alma mater with generous contributions and years of service on various boards and committees. He and his wife, Nancy D. Cohen, made gifts to the school in excess of $2.1 million.
The Cohens created the Nancy D. and Aaron S. Cohen Engineering Scholarship, providing much-needed financial assistance to talented UCLA Engineering undergraduate students of limited means.
Aaron Cohen was a UCLA Chancellor’s Associate, a UCLA Foundation Governor and a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council of the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science. He also served on the boards of the UCLA Engineering Institute for Technology Advancement and the Engineering Alumni Association. In 2012 he was named the UCLA Engineering Alumnus of the Year.
“Aaron Cohen was a credit to the engineering profession and a great friend to the school,” said Vijay K. Dhir, dean of UCLA Engineering. “He never forgot his roots at UCLA, and he worked hard to ensure that the school continued to provide an excellent engineering education long after he graduated and launched his successful career. Our thoughts are with his wife, Nancy, his family, and all whose lives he touched.”
Cohen founded NTS in 1961, three years after he earned his bachelor’s degree in engineering. The Calabasas-based company provides testing, engineering and management services to more than 4,000 clients in the aerospace, automotive, defense and telecommunications industries. He served as president and chairman of the board of NTS for many years, and most recently was vice chairman of the board and senior vice president.
Cohen was a member of the National Association of Professional Engineers and the American Society for Quality Control.
“In addition to being a great friend of mine and of the school, Aaron was a warm and thoughtful person who was committed to improving the lives of others,” Dhir said. “At UCLA Engineering, he leaves a legacy of service and excellence. His life will serve as an inspiration as we continue to educate future generations of engineers and leaders.”