Elected in 1975
“For contributions to advances in mechanics and their application to rocket engine and nuclear power plant design.”
BY FREDERICK F. LING
ERASTUS LEE, Rosalind and John Redfem Jr. Chair Emeritus of Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), died on May 17, 2006, at the age of 90. He was with Rensselaer for 10 very productive years, from 1981 to 1991; prior to that, Ras, as he was known to friends and colleagues, was professor emeritus, Division of Applied Mechanics and Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Stanford University, where he had been active for 20 years.
Ras was born on February 2, 1916, in Southport, England, to Herbert J. and Emma Cook Lee. A recipient of several scholarships, Ras graduated in 1937 with 1st Class Honors from the University of Cambridge, where he majored in mechanical sciences and mathematics. He came to the United States for the first time on a two-year fellowship from the Commonwealth Fund of New York to study with Professor S.P. Timoshenko, a renowned professor at Stanford University. Ras earned his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and mathematics from Stanford in 1940.
Ras remained in the United States during World War II, first as a progress officer in the British Purchasing Commission in New York City and later in the British Air Commission in Washington, D.C. Officer Lee was involved in planning deliveries of aircraft from U.S. companies and keeping records of modifications required to meet British needs.