David P. DeWitt, PhD 1934-2005
This site is dedicated to the memory of the late David P. DeWitt one of the giants of the fields of Radiation Thermometry and Radiation Heat Transfer.
It was my honor and privilege to have known and worked with Dave in ASTM Committee E20 on Temperature Measurement and in some related areas professionally.
Dr. DeWitt, or Professor DeWitt, as he was known to thousands of Purdue University Mechanical Engineering Graduates, graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Duke University and retired from Purdue as a Professor of Mechanical Engineering.
He and Professor Frank P. Incropera were co-authors of several popular engineering texts on Heat Transfer, used in many US universities.
In addition, he worked with Y.S. Touloukian and helped to produce a monumental three volume work on optical properties of materials as part of the Thermophysical Properties of Matter Series published in the 1970s.
He also found time to create and edit, with Gene Nutter from the University of Wisconsin, the first modern book on the subject of radiation thermometry (Theory and Practice of Radiation Thermometry,
He also worked closely with ASTM Subcommittee E20.02 and several industry leaders to develop and organize two short topical conferences on Radiation Thermometry held at NIST.
In 1985, the meeting, Applications of Radiation Thermometry resulted in a publication of its Proceedings asASTM Standard Technical Publication 895, of the same title. He and the retired Director of the NIST Section of Radiation Physics, J.C. Richmond were the Co-Editors.
Another NIST conference on Multiwavelength Radiation Thermometry was held in 1988, but remains unpublished.
In 1986 a special symposium was held in Houston Texas, sponsored by the American Institute of Chemical Engineering (AIChE), entitled “Measurement of High Temperatures in Furnaces and Processes”. It was chaired by Drs D.P DeWitt & L. F. Albright of Purdue University.
The proceedings were published in The AIChE Symposium Series, No 249, Volume 82, 1986.
Before joining Purdue, he had worked at the National Bureau of Standards, now called the National Institute for Science & Technology (NIST) in Maryland, The National Metrology Institute (NMI) for The USA, and spent a year as a guest researcher at the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), The National Metrology Institute (NMI) for Germany.
Some of his work at PTB was published from the 1972 International Temperature Symposium at Washington, DC and the techniques he proposed back then are now more practical due to the development of high power lasers. They recently have been reported from work at several European NMIs.
Before his Purdue retirement, he was reportedly challenged by the Semiconductor Research Institute, SEMATECH , in Austin Texas, to work once again at NIST in Gaithersburg Maryland to help them solve a long-standing and very difficult noncontact temperature measurement problem for the Industry.
The photo above is from the NIST Awards & Honors web page for 2004. Dave was awarded IEEE’s James F. Gibbons Award in 2004 for “pioneering work in the field of advanced thermal processing of materials”.
While at NIST, he worked also to help start the NIST Short Course in Radiation Thermometry, now entering its fourteenth year and acted as the Managing Editor for the ASTM Guide to Radiation Thermometry which is still incomplete partly due to his untimely death.
In 2000 he helped motivate the NIST staff to plan, organize and run a special NIST workshop to “establish a forum by which U.S. industry and NIST, working together, can address scientific and technological challenges that impede the application of non-contact temperature measuring methods to important industrial processes”.
NIST published a short article reporting his passing and summarizing some of his life as follows: (Copy courtesy Dr. B. Tsai)
“Feb 2006–Remembering a giant in the field
“Edgewater MD, USA– David P DeWitt PhD, late Professor of Mechanical Engineering of Purdue University, West Lafayette IN, NIST in Gaithersburg MD and Edgewater MD, died in mid-2005. His passing was almost unnoticed by all but his immediate family, friends and co-workers at The Optical Technologies Division at NIST in Gaithersburg MD. He is, and was, renown among countless engineering students for his popular Heat Transfer textbooks, many co-workers in the field of radiation heat transfer, band is very well known in the loosely-knit international community of workers in Radiation Thermometry
“His 1985 book, co-edited with E. A. Nutter, “Principles and Applications of Radiation Thermometery” has stood alone as the definitive work in the field for more than 20 years”.
The Purdue University Mechanical Engineering Newsletter Engineering Impact ran the following article as a notice of his passing to friends, peers and students in the Fall of 2005:
“Remembering David P. DeWitt”
“David DeWitt’s professional life was characterized by tremendous commitment, boundless energy, great creativity,and countless contributions for the benefit of others. As a member of our faculty, he was internationally recognized for his many technical achievements, thus bringing honor to our School. Always a tireless worker, he set a high standard for the rest of us in so many diverse areas of activity: teaching, research, administration, collaboration with industry, and many others…. He constantly explored new and uniquely innovative ways of doing things, and prodded the rest of us to do the same. He served as chairman of the Heat Transfer Faculty for many years, providing great vision and leadership…. We are privileged to have had David as our friend and teammate for so many years. Our lives and our achievements were greatly enriched by his presence.”
“—Former colleagues, School of Mechanical Engineering, June 2005”