Dr. Frank Kreith, Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder, has died. He was 95.
Frank was born in 1922 in Vienna, Austria. Facing the threat of Hitler he left Austria as a member of the Kindertransport. Leaving his family behind, not knowing if he would see them again, he went to England, where he first worked on a farm and later in a machine shop making war implements.
The experience allowed him to gain employment when he was reunited with his family who had immigrated to the U.S. Working nights to support his family, Frank went to school during the day, eventually obtaining B.S. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California.
With expertise in Heat Transfer, Kreith joined the Jet Propulsion Laboratory working on rocket engineering that would later become part of NASA's space program. He was a Guggenheim Fellow at Princeton before starting to teach at Berkeley. Between Princeton and Berkeley, Frank stopped to see his parents in Los Angeles where he met his future wife, Marion. They were married for 66 years.
Teaching became Frank's passion. He taught at Berkeley, Lehigh University and C.U.
In 1965, he received a Doctorate from the University of Paris.
During the course of his career, Frank authored many books and received many awards. His seminal textbook, Principles of Heat Transfer, written in 1956, is now in its eighth edition. Frank became increasingly interested in solar and sustainable energy and his subsequent books dealt with exploring alternatives to fossil-based fuels.
Of the many awards he received, two are particularly noteworthy: The Max Jakob Award, the highest award given by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and just this past year the prestigious John Fritz Medal. This medal is awarded by the American Association of Engineering Societies to individuals, like Thomas Edison, who have made significant contributions resulting in the betterment of mankind.
When the Solar Energy Research Institute was established in Golden, Kreith was asked to head the Solar Thermal Conversion Research branch, a position he held until 1987. After leaving SERI, he joined the National Council of State Legislators, where he advised lawmakers on energy and environmental issues. A one-year "probationary appointment" turned into a 13-year tenure.
In his later years, Kreith returned to C.U. where he taught the Senior Design Class which gave students the opportunity to work on real-life industrial projects. He also developed a cross-departmental Honors Course that brought together engineering and humanities students to address problems in sustainable energy.
Frank's mental endeavors were matched by his love for the outdoors. He enjoyed skiing, tennis, and hiking in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. He was an avid student of Pilates and yoga and attended classes until the final days of his life. He loved playing bridge and was always up for a friendly game of Scrabble. Far-reaching conversations around the dinner table were shared by friends and family alike.
Frank Kreith is survived by his wife, Marion; son, Michael; daughters, Marcia (George Horsham) and Judy (Chris Jenkins); and three grand-children, Sarah and Arielle Klein, and Daniel Kreith; as well as brother, Kurt; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his beloved sister, Susi Culler. Franks final days were greatly eased by the loving care of the Halcyon Hospice staff.
A Memorial Celebration of life will be held on Sunday, February 4 at the East Boulder Senior Center from 2 to 5 p.m. In lieu of flowers, contributions honoring Frank's memory can be made to The Boulder Shelter for the Homeless, Meals on Wheels, or the Boulder section of the American Solar Energy Society.