Engineering professor Kenneth Torrance dies at 69

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Blaine Friedlander

Kenneth Torrance, the Joseph C. Ford Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, died suddenly Feb. 15 as the result of a heart attack. He was 69 years old.

A member of the Cornell faculty for more than four decades, Torrance ran a lab in thermal systems engineering, with specialization in heat transfer, fluid mechanics and computer graphics. He also studied heat transfer by radiation and its application to the construction of realistic images in computer graphics.

His lab was the first to demonstrate the thermodynamic structure of boiling and natural convection in porous materials. He also led pioneering studies in the development of numerical methods for the computer simulation of heat transfer and fluid-flow problems.

Torrance served as associate dean of the College of Engineering (1984-85) as well as associate dean for research and graduate affairs (1983-86).

Before joining the Cornell faculty in 1968, Torrance held a joint appointment with the Fire Research Section of the National Bureau of Standards, and the Factory Mutual Engineering Corp. in Massachusetts. He held a bachelor's degree (1961), master's degree (1964) and Ph.D. (1966), all from the University of Minnesota.

Torrance was a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the American Physical Society and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). In 1994 he received the ACM SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Achievement Award.

He is survived by his wife, Marcia; three children, grandchildren and siblings. A celebration of Torrance's life will be held Feb. 27 at 11 a.m. at the Statler Hotel ballroom. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to a charity of one's choice.


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