Elected in 1974
“For leadership in the development of theoretical and experimental techniques in the field of fluid mechanics.”
BY RAFAEL L. BRAS, FRÉDÉRIC CHAGNON, ERIC E. ADAMS, PETER S. EAGLESON, OLE MADSEN, SUSAN MURCOTT, LEW THATCHER, AND PETER SHANAHAN
DONALD R.F. HARLEMAN, Ford Professor Emeritus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), died of cancer on September 28, 2005, on Nantucket, Massachusetts. He was 82 years old.
Born on December 5, 1922, in Palmerton, Pennsylvania, Don received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Pennsylvania State University in 1943 and then worked as a design engineer for the Curtis-Wright Corporation in Ohio during the last years of World War II. In October 1945, he arrived at MIT, a 22-year-old beginning graduate student in the Department of Civil and Sanitary Engineering with an interest in fluid flow. On that same October day, Dr. Arthur T. Ippen, a Caltech Ph.D. student of the renowned fluid dynamicist Theodore von Karman, also arrived in Cambridge to take up a new appointment as professor in charge of the department’s hydrodynamics and hydraulic engineering program. Thus began a collaboration and friendship that continued until Ippen’s death in 1973.
In 1947, Don Harleman completed his master’s thesis, “The Characteristics of Density Currents,” based on a problem Ippen encountered on one of his consulting jobs. A conclusion of that thesis paper reflects the principle of Don’s subsequent research: “Any theory, in order that it may be accepted, must stand the