Professor Ogilvie was born and reared in Atlantic City, where he developed an aversion to boats, water, and sand. At age sixteen he attended Cornell University, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in physics. He subsequently discovered that he could study boats and water without getting wet, and so he accepted a position as a physicist at the David Taylor Model Basin (DTMB) of the U S Navy.
For five years he studied the dynamic response of ship structures to explosive loading. During this period he participated in two major experiments at sea. After climbing the side of an aircraft carrier on a Jacob’s ladder in a State 5 sea (and almost getting wet), he undertook a new line of research on the wave dynamics of hydrofoil craft, ships, submarines, and other marine structures. During this period, he also earned an MS degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Maryland and a PhD in engineering science from the University of California at Berkeley. He served for 18 months as a liaison scientist in the London office of the Office of Naval Research.
In 1967, he accepted an associate professorship in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering at The University of Michigan. Three years later he became professor of Fluid Mechanics, and three years after that was named Chairman of the Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. During his eight years in that position, the department completely restructured its undergraduate curriculum, developed a world-class graduate program, modernized its major experimental facility, and moved to new quarters that were built largely with funds from industry and alumni.
In 1981, he resigned the Chairmanship at Michigan and in 1982 came to MIT with appointments as Professor of Ocean Engineering and Head of the Department of Ocean Engineering. He held the latter position for over 12 years. During that period, the department completely redirected its undergraduate program, developed several new laboratories, and effectively integrated its unique Naval Construction and Engineering Course into the MIT engineering mainstream.
Professor Ogilvie has held positions as Visiting Professor of Naval Architecture in Osaka University (Japan) and Honorary Professor of Mathematics in Manchester University (UK). He was the first recipient of the William H Webb Medal, awarded by the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers for outstanding contributions to education. He has received the Meritorious Public Service Award, US Department of the Navy (1955), and the Meritorious Public Service Award, US Department of Transportation (1982). In 1996, he received an honorary doctorate from the National Technical University of Athens (Greece) in recognition of his research accomplishments in ship hydrodynamics. He and his wife Joan now reside in Tucson, Arizona, where they are founding members of the Arizona Senior Academy.