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Memorial Tributes, Volume 11
W. KENNETH DAVIS
Elected in 1970
“For contributions to the development ofnuclear power technology and its industrial application.”
BY HAROLD K. FORSEN AND WILLIAM L. FRIEND
W. KENNETH (Ken) DAVIS, a leader of the World Energy Council, former vice president of the National Academy of Engineering, former Deputy Secretary of Energy, and Bechtel Corporation executive, and one of the nation’s most distinguished chemical engineers, died on July 29, 2005, at the age of 87 at his home in San Rafael, California.
Ken was born in Seattle, Washington, but moved when he was young to the San Francisco Bay Area. He began his education at the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied chemistry before transferring to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to become a chemical engineer. He received his B.S. and M.S. from MIT in chemical engineering in 1940 and 1942, respectively.
In 1947, after working for several years in the research department of what is now the Chevron Oil Company doing process design and the development of synthetic rubber, he joined Ford, Bacon & Davis (FB&D) in Chicago, a company that had won the contract to build the nation’s first nuclear engineering laboratory at Argonne, Illinois. Thus began Ken’s career in the newly emerging field of nuclear energy.
Ken left FB&D in 1949 to begin an academic career at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Encouraged by Llewellyn Boelter, now dean at UCLA, who was a close professional friend whom he met at Berkeley, Ken took a position at