Edward Furber Miller (1866-1933)

Photo of Miller (c.1927) Professor Edward Furber Miller was born in Somerville [Massachusetts] on January 18, 1866, the son of William Gibbs and Sarah Furber Miller. His early education was in public schools in Cambridge and he entered Technology in September 1882, receiving the degree of Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering in June 1886. In 1900 he was married to Mary Willard Reed of Lexington.

Following his graduation, he was appointed a member of the instructing staff of the Institute. In 1892 he became a member of the Faculty and Professor of Steam Engineering, and on the retirement of Professor Lanza in 1911, he was appointed in charge of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, which positions he held until his death. During his career, he was largely instrumental in the development of the laboratories of the Mechanical Engineering Department from the modest beginnings in the basement of the Rogers Building to the present extensive equipment in ten or more laboratory divisions now under the Department. Notwithstanding his continually increasing administrative duties, he continued his teaching, in which he was always actively interested.

During the war, besides carrying on his work at the Institute, he was appointed by the Shipping Board of the United States to take charge of the establishment and direction of schools located in different parts of the country preparing men to serve as engineer officers for the United States Merchant Marine. Thirteen such schools were established and over 2,000 men were in training. Following the war, he was instrumental in making arrangements with the Army and Navy Departments of the United States Government for the establishment of special courses at the Institute for Army and Naval Officers. He was commissioned a Colonel in the Ordnance Reserves, and in 1921 he was appointed, by the Institute Corporation, as Dean of Army Officers at the Institute.

In 1921, he was also awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Science by the Rhode Island State College.

In 1920, following the death of President Maclaurin, he was appointed as one of the Faculty members of the Administration Committee which took charge of the administration of Institute affairs until the appointment of President Stratton in 1923.

He was active in many professional societies, and was a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Boston Society of Civil Engineers, the American Society of Refrigeration Engineering, the National Association of Stationary Engineers, a life member of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics Association, and a member of other engineering organizations. He was an expert on the design and operation of Steam boilers and power plants, and as such, served for many years as a member of the Boiler Code Committee and the Power Test Code Committee of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. His advice as an expert along these lines was widely sought by industrial concerns. For many years, he served the State of Massachusetts and the cities of Boston and Cambridge on various Boards and Committees.

An expert in his chosen field, he brought into the classroom a vast fund of knowledge gained from his practical experience and was able to impart to his students a far more thorough and vivid appreciation of what the Mechanical Engineer might be called upon to do in the practice of his profession than could be accomplished from the study of books alone.

Outside of the classroom, he took a fatherly interest in his students. He was a friend to them in many of their activities and always ready and willing to give freely of his time to talk over their problems and advise them, not alone in connection with their studies, but often in relation to their personal affairs outside the Institute. It may be said that no man in his profession was regarded with a greater degree of respect and gratitude and affection by his former students than he.

Outstanding in his life was his devotion to the Institute. For fifty-one years, his connection with it as student and teacher was unbroken; service to it was always first in his thoughts. In this loyalty, which commanded the admiration of both colleagues and students, is to be found the secret of his influence.

Source: MIT Museum. Anonymous author, written in 1933.
Photograph: Courtesy of the MIT Museum

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