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J.H. Keenan's Contribution to Thermodynamics

10/04/2007 8:00 AM Broad Institute
Ahmed Ghoniem, Ronald C. Crane (1972) Professor,; Mechanical Engineering, MIT; ; Dr. Susan Hockfield, President, MIT; George Hatsopoulos, '49, SM '50, ME '54, SCD '56, Chairman, American DG Energy

Description: Joseph Henry Keenan, whom this symposium honors, died in 1977, but his groundbreaking work continues to influence the field of thermodynamics, as his colleagues, prot_g_s and scientific descendants attest. Keenan's efforts had practical outcomes, such as determining the properties of steam, which boosted the electric power industry. But as Ahmed Ghoniem says, Keenan's exploration and reformulation of the laws of thermodynamics helped place this field in the center of such diverse, contemporary disciplines as the life sciences, energy, information, computation and the nanosciences. "The field has grown from a model of the heat engine to a set of fundamental principles that govern energy conversion in all forms." Keenan played a powerful role in MIT's history as well, notes Susan Hockfield. In Keenan's 40 years at the Institute, he served as a model teacher. He founded a school of thought and shaped the teaching and application of thermodynamics worldwide. His research "combined developing practical engineering tools with providing explanations of deep subtlety," and he set a standard for academic leadership, heading the Department of Mechanical Engineering in the difficult post"Sputnik era. To George Hatsopoulos, Keenan was "my mentor, my friendHis intuition was so unbelievably right; he always led me the right way." Hatsopoulos shares personal anecdotes about Keenan's rigorous thinking and precision with language, and offers two short video clips taken by Keenan's daughter shortly before his death that reveal his method of inquiry. Hatsopoulos suggests that were Keenan alive, he would ask the symposium presenters and audience the following question: "Is entropy an intrinsic property of any system, whether microscopic or macroscopic, whether in a state of equilibrium or nonequilibrium? "

About the Speaker(s): Ahmed Ghoniem's research interests include high performance computing in turbulent reactive flow, computational mathematics, combustion dynamics and active control, modeling and simulation of transport"chemistry interactions in thermochemical and electrochemical systems including high temperature fuel cells, gasification processes and fuel production. He also explores high"performance, zero"emission integrated energy systems with CO2 capture.

Ghoniem has a B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Cairo University, Egypt, and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. George N. Hatsopoulos is also the founder and CEO of Pharos, LLC, an organization devoted to the creation of leading edge business ventures. He is also the founder and chairman emeritus of Thermo Electron Corporation, and served as Chairman and CEO since its founding in 1956 until his retirement from those positions in 1999.

Hatsopoulos has served on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, including a term as chairman. He was a member of the SEC Advisory Committee on Capital Formation and Regulatory Process, the Advisory Committee of the US Export"Import Bank, and the boards of various corporations and institutions.

Hatsopoulos is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and other scientific and technical organizations. He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards in engineering, science, industry and academics, has authored over 60 articles in professional journals, and is the principal author of textbooks in Thermodynamics and Thermionic Energy Conversion.

Hatsopoulos has been a faculty member and senior lecturer at MIT and continues his association with the Institute as a Life Member of the Corporation and chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Committee. Hatsopoulos holds a bachelors degree from the National Technical University of Athens, and masters and doctorate degrees from MIT.

Host(s): School of Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering

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MIT World — special events and lectures

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