Elected in 2002
“For developing innovative, widely used new concepts for modeling coupled chemical and physical phenomena in engine combustion and high-temperature flows.”
BY RONALD F. PROBSTEIN
JAMES C. KECK, known for his landmark developments in the understanding of automotive engine combustion for the purpose of minimizing noxious emissions, died on August 9, 2010, at the age of 86.
Jim was born in New York City on June 11, 1924, the son of famed sculptor Charles Keck. He spent his early years in Greenwich Village, where his father’s studio was located, but financial losses resulting from the Great Depression forced the family to leave Manhattan and move to their country home in Carmel, New York.
He graduated from Carmel High School in 1942 and then went to Cornell University where he majored in physics and minored in mathematics. An outstanding student in physics, in 1944 he was drafted into the Special Engineering Detachment of the U.S. Army, given the rank of technical sergeant, and sent to Los Alamos to work on the atomic bomb project as part of the Manhattan Project. Years later Jim told me, “I can’t understand how they picked me because I was just a kid and hadn’t been at Cornell that long to know enough physics to be useful.” I never had any doubt that was a usual understatement by Jim who was an outstanding student. This was confirmed to me some years afterwards by his supervisors at Cornell,