Robert B. Bird

National Medal of Science

Engineering

For his profoundly influential books and research on kinetic theory, transport phenomena, the behavior of polymeric fluids, and foreign language study for engineers and scientists.

For his profoundly influential books and research on kinetic theory, transport phenomena, the behavior of polymeric fluids, and foreign language study for engineers and scientists.

VIEW STATISTICS +

Birth
February 5, 1924
Age Awarded
63
Country of Birth
USA
Key Contributions
Transport Phenomena
Awarded by
Ronald Wilson Reagan
Education
University of Wisconsin
University of Illinois
Areas of Impact
Theory & Foundations
Affiliations
University of Wisconsin
W

When Robert Byron Bird was preparing a curriculum for his chemical engineering students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the 1950s, he realized there wasn’t an available textbook on transport phenomena. So he set about writing one himself.

Transport Phenomena, written along with Ed Lightfoot and Warren Stewart, was published in 1960 and became the seminal textbook in the field, which studies the exchange of mass, energy and momentum.

Born in Texas, Bird’s father was an engineer. The younger Bird had a passion for science and languages in high school, but his father steered him to engineering. Bird went on to earn a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1950.  

In addition to his research and teaching at the University of Wisconsin, Bird, who had studied in the Netherlands on a Fulbright grant, collaborated on books about Dutch literature. On another Fulbright grant, Bird spent time in Japan, where he realized the need to understand technical Japanese and thus wrote a guide to it.

Bird is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences among other groups.

By Robert Warren

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