Elizabeth Lurie, SM ’93, ScD ’96

Alumna applies her engineering savvy to racing-yacht design

Beth Lurie went sailing at every opportunity while she was growing up on Long Island Sound. Her 10-year career in yacht racing and design has nicely integrated her academic and personal passions.

Elizabeth Lurie

After graduating from MIT with degrees in ocean engineering and aeronautics and astronautics—she raced occasionally in the Institute’s evening racing series—Lurie joined United Technologies Research Center (UTRC), where she developed fans for Carrier, the company’s air-­conditioning and commercial refrigeration division. Shortly after her arrival, UTRC’s parent company, United Technologies Corporation (UTC), became a corporate sponsor for AmericaOne, a U.S. yacht-racing syndicate seeking entry in the America’s Cup.

Through UTRC, Lurie joined the AmericaOne team as a performance analyst, developing underwater instrumentation to improve the performance of the boat’s rudder and keels for the 2000 Louis Vuitton Cup, where a first-place finish qualified for the America’s Cup. AmericaOne finished second in the Vuitton Cup and UTC left the syndicate, but Lurie was hooked on America’s Cup racing.

“For each America’s Cup cycle, we had three sailing seasons—three chances—to have the fastest boat possible,” she says. “Yacht design changes so fast—so many aspects of a previous race boat are obsolete in the next event.”

In 2001, Lurie left UTRC and joined OneWorld Challenge, another U.S. syndicate, in preparation for the 2003 America’s Cup. Her responsibilities included overseeing both wind tunnel testing and on-the-water testing. After OneWorld did not qualify for the America’s Cup, she joined the Luna Rossa Challenge for the 2007 Vuitton Cup. In that event, Luna Rossa’s boat finished second, one spot short.

Despite never qualifying for the America’s Cup, Lurie has fond memories of the yacht-racing competitions.

“Each sailing season was more fun than the last,” she says. “The tools and systems are better than the previous generation, and the pace of technology growth was breathtaking.”

After the 2007 race Lurie rejoined UTRC as a research engineer, helping develop high-compression units for aerospace and HVAC applications. In 2011, she moved to Pratt & Whitney as manager of the aerothermal methods group, where she oversees development of computational fluid dynamics software used to design jet engines.

“Pratt & Whitney has so much technical talent and knowledge, but unlike sailboat racing, the engine development and FAA certification process is much more deliberate and lengthy,” she says. “The similarity between the two products is that it takes a technological advantage to win, and strong teamwork to achieve success.”

For Lurie, who has a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College, sailing still remains a passion. Living near the Connecticut shoreline, she and her husband have a date night on the sea every summer Thursday, and their three children are all avid sailors.

“Sailing is our primary family activity,” she says. “We all enjoy being out on the water together—it will always be an important part of our lives.”

Tech Obsessive?
Become an Insider to get the story behind the story — and before anyone else.
Subscribe today

Uh oh–you've read all five of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium

$179.95/yr US PRICE

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.

  • Insider Premium {! insider.prices.premium !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Our award winning magazine, unlimited access to our story archive, special discounts to MIT Technology Review Events, and exclusive content.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

    First Look. Exclusive early access to stories.

    Insider Conversations. Join in and ask questions as our editors talk to innovators from around the world.

  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus ad-free web experience, select discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning magazine and daily delivery of The Download, our newsletter of what’s important in technology and innovation.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

You've read of free articles this month.