In Memoriam: Donald K. Edwards

May 29, 2009

By UCLA Samueli Newsroom

Donald K. Edwards, a UCLA Engineering professor from 1959 to 1981, died on May 6 of complications from cancer. He was 76.

Edwards was an internationally recognized expert in radiation heat transfer and in the development of heat pipes. He received his B.S., M.S., and PhD all from UC Berkeley. After a short time at Lockheed, he joined UCLA as an assistant professor in 1959. He was promoted to associate professor in 1963 and to full professor in 1968. He served as Chair of the Chemical, Nuclear and Thermal Engineering Department from 1975 to 1978.

Edwards was as fellow of AIAA and ASME. He received the ASME Heat Transfer Division Memorial Award in 1973 for his “contributions to the science of heat transfer in surface and gaseous radiation.” He received AIAA’s Thermophysics Award in 1976 for his “outstanding contributions to the fields of gaseous radiation, surface reflectance characterization, radiant heat transfer analysis, and radiation property instrumentation,” as well for his teaching and public service. In 1998, he and co-author A. Balakrishnan were awarded an ASME classic paper award for their influential 1973 paper on thermal radiation by combustion gases, published in the International Journal of Heat Mass Transfer.

Edwards was also an outstanding educator. In 1977, he received the Favorite Professor Award from the Engineering Student Society. And he graduated dozens of graduate students, including his former student, professor Ivan Catton. He also was the co-author of a classic textbook “Transfer Processes,” along with professors Anthony Mills and V.E. Denny.

In 1981, Edwards left for UC Irvine to help grow the mechanical engineering department there. He served as its chair from 1984 to 1986. He then served as associate dean for graduate affairs from 1986 to 1989. He retired from UC Irvine in 1991, 40 years after first entering the UC system as a freshman.

Edwards is survived by his wife Louise, and his children Victoria and Richard. A memorial service was held on May 9. He will be greatly missed.

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