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Elected in 1976

“For contributions to the basic knowledge of combustion, particularly the design basis for gas turbines, rockets, and ramjets.”


JACK LONGWELL died on October 6, 2004, at the age of 86 after a distinguished career at Exxon and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He was born April 27, 1918, in a medical facility in Denver, Colorado, the nearest to his parents’ home in Wyoming. His father was a civil engineer who helped build dams for the U.S. Reclamation Service. Jack spent his first 11 years in Wyoming, where he developed his lifelong interests in the outdoors—fishing, hunting, skiing, and hiking. Then in 1929 he moved with his family to Oakland, California. He attended the University of California, Berkeley, where he obtained an S.B. in mechanical engineering before continuing his studies at MIT as a doctoral student with Professor H. C. Hottel (deceased, NAE, 1974) as his advisor. His doctoral thesis research on pressure-atomized nozzles provided the detailed size distribution of droplets in the resulting sprays. He developed the first size characterization of the drop size distribution by capturing the sprays in a dry ice/acetone bath and then sieving the frozen droplets. His method for characterizing sprays had a major impact on the development of both commercial burners and gas turbines. Will Hawthorne (NAE, 1976), while working with Whittle to develop the combustor for the first British jet aircraft, told Hottel that his team had copied Jack’s atomization method and classified their report on the work!

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