Warren Max Rohsenow received his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering at Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) in 1941. He earned his M.Eng. and D.Eng. Degrees at Yale University in 1943 and 1944, respectively. He was an active member of the MIT faculty from 1946 to 1985.
As a researcher, educator and leader, Professor Rohsenow made outstanding and lasting contributions to the engineering profession in general and thermal power systems in particular. His fundamental and applied research in nearly all modes of heat transfer is highly respected throughout the world and underpins many modern developments in the thermal power industry. His seminal work on gas turbines, heat exchangers, heat transfer in nuclear reactors and condensation in cooling towers are landmarks in the development of this field. He made pioneering contributions to the understanding of dispersed flow film boiling, condensation, metal-to-metal contact resistance and two-phase flows.
His contributions to the thermal power industry began early in his career. After writing one of the first gas turbine theses, Rohsenow was assigned to the U.S. Navy Engineering Experimental Station (Annapolis, MD) to develop temperature instrumentation for the first gas turbine tested in the United States. His thesis investigated the effect of water injection on gas turbine performance, an idea that was incorporated in an operational plant about 40 years later by designers unaware of Rohsenow's early work. In addition to serving in the U.S. Navy (1944-46), he was a consultant to the National Defense Research Council/Columbia University group on aircraft component design from 1943-44.
Professor Rohsenow's teaching experience began in the early 1940's at Yale University (New Haven, CT) where he taught laboratory courses in steam power and automotive engineering classes in thermodynamics and heat power. In July 1946, he joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, as assistant professor of mechanical engineering, which marked the beginning of a new era for that department in the field of heat transfer. Named professor and director of the Heat Transfer Laboratory in 1956, he published papers on improving gas turbine regenerators and began an extensive research effort in heat transfer for nuclear reactors. This boiling and condensation research was used in future reactor designs and in replacing the entire cooling system of gaseous diffusion plants.
Professor Rohsenow always emphasized the contributions of both students and colleagues to the strength and reputation of the MIT Heat Transfer Lab. Among his former students are Professor Peter Griffith, J.A. Clark, R. Nickerson, V.S. Arpaci, J.C. Chato, P.J. Berenson, M.M. Chen, A.E. Bergles, R.S. Dougall, M. Fiori, Professor Leon R. Glicksman, S.P. Sukhatme, W.F. Laverty, P.J. Marto, Professor Neil E. Todreas, M.M. Yovanovich, Professor Borivoje B. Mikic, D.G. Kröger, R. Forslund, I. Shai, S. Bae, J.S. Maulbetsch, S.J. Hynek, C.W. Deane, S.J. Wilcox, R.K. Sakhuja, J.J. Lorenz, D.P. Traviss, O.C. Iloije, D.N. Plummer, W. Mack, A Singh, E.N. Ganic, Professor Mujid S. Kazimi, G.E. Kendall and G. Yoder.
The classroom teaching of Professor Rohsenow and his colleagues has been noted for its strong emphasis on fundamentals and practice-oriented problems. The classroom material which Prof. Rohsenow compiled on heat and mass transfer was ultimately published in the book Heat, Mass and Momentum Transfer (with H.Y. Choi), published in 1961. He authored/co-authored over 100 journal papers, as well as hundreds of conference papers and technical reports. He was a founding member of the editorial advisory board of the International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer and served on advisory boards of several other journals. He edited Developments in Heat Transfer (MIT Press, 1964); and was senior editor of the Handbook of Heat Transfer (1973) and its second and recently released third edition (1998). Rohsenow served on numerous U.S. government committees and has lectured worldwide.
A member of American Society of Mechanical Engineers since 1943, Rohsenow was chair of the Heat Transfer Division (HTD) Thermo Physical Properties Committee (1950-53), the Boston Section Executive Committee (1952-56) and the HTD Executive Committee (1958-63). He was one of the early advocates of the Assembly for International Heat Transfer Conferences, founded in 1966, which organizes conferences every four years. He was also one of the founders of the International Center for Heat and Mass Transfer (originally in Yugoslavia, now in Turkey), and served as vice president and later president. His ASME honors include the Pi Tau Sigma Gold Medal (1951), Fellow (1969), the Max Jakob Memorial Award of ASME (1971), Life Fellow (1986), Honorary Member (1988), and the ASME Medal (2001). In 1999 ASME's HTD and Gas Turbine Division announced a joint award in Warren Rohsenow's name for an outstanding conference presentation in gas turbine heat transfer.
Professor Rohsenow is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Science (1956) and a member of the National Academy of Engineering (1975), and he received the Yale Engineering Association Award for Advancement of Basic and Applied Science (1952) and a Fellowship Award from the International Center for Heat and Mass Transfer (1989).
Warren was an accomplished pianist who played jazz with various ensembles at MIT. He kept a piano in his MIT office, which he would occasionally roll out into the corridor for departmental parties.
In 1985 after 39 years of service, Professor Rohsenow retired from MIT. In 1994 he retired as chairman of the board of Dynatech Corporation, a company he co-founded in 1959 which provides consulting services to companies in diversified fields including modem development and lightning strike location measurement. Professor Rohsenow now lives in Falmouth, Maine.
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