Fonds 1247 - Bernard Etkin fonds

Identity area

Reference code

UTA 1247


Bernard Etkin fonds


  • 1938-2004 (Creation)

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Extent and medium

4.34 m of textual and graphic records (25 boxes)

Context area

Name of creator

(1918- 2014)

Biographical history

Professor, Dept. of Aerospace Studies; Dean, Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering, University of Toronto.

Professor Bernard Etkin was born in Toronto, May 7 1918. He graduated from the University of Toronto in Engineering Physics (B.A.Sc.) in 1941 and was appointed a lecturer in 1942. In 1947, he graduated with an M.A.Sc in Aeronautical Engineering and rose through the ranks becoming full Professor in 1957. He was one of the founding staff members of Institute of Aerospace Studies (IAS), originally called Institute of Aerophysics, and, although he retired from the teaching staff in 1983, he has continued to teach and conduct research as University Professor Emeritus. He designed many of the courses that he taught, some of which were the first of this type to be given in Canada. His lectures in Flight Dynamics resulted in the publication of three editions of a book on this subject for which he is perhaps best known. Etkin also served many administrative roles including chair of Engineering Science (1967-1972) and Dean of the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering (1973-1979).

Along side his academic career, Etkin also worked as a consultant to industry and government. During the war years and in the early 1950s, Etkin was also employed and later consulted for several Canadian aircraft firms including de Havilland, Victory Aircraft and A.V.Roe, Found Brothers, Orenda Engines and Avro Aircraft. He was involved in the design, production and/or testing of the following airplanes: DHC Tiger Moth, Hornet Moth, Mosquito, Harvard trainer; Avro Anson, Avro Lancaster, Avro CF 100 Fighter; Avro C102 jet transport, York transport, CF 105 Arrow; DHC Sparrow glider and UofT Loudon glider. For many years, he was also an active consultant to the U.S. and Canadian governments often with the Defence Research Board of Canada and the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research. Much of his consultant work was done as a member of the Aerospace Engineering Research Consultants (AERCOL) that included many of the professors at IAS.

His research interests have been broad and have reached beyond the field of Aerodynamics. Many of his publications deal with topics in aircraft structure, wing theory, shock waves, stability and control of aircraft, satellites and re-entry vehicles, aerosonics, air curtains and aerodynamics of small particles. He was responsible for the design of the subsonic wind tunnel and managed all aspects of its funding, construction and installation. His research resulted in significant contributions to the aerodynamic theory of supersonic wings, flight dynamics and flight in turbulent winds as well as to space flight in the area of spin decay of satellites and gravity-gradient stabilization. He has several patents in his name including the Tervel separator – an aerodynamic particle separator – and an air curtain fume cabinet.

Professor Etkin has been honoured with many medals and awards. In 2003, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada and most recently was given the Engineering Alumni Medal. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the Canadian Academy of Engineering, the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He continued to reside in Toronto with his wife Maya and to be a mentor to students and faculty at the Institute of Aerospace Studies, until his death on June 26, 2014.

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Scope and content

Fonds consists of 2 accessions.

Accession B1984-0008 is 1 box of speeches and writings, 1938-1979, which are described in Series 3.

The remainder of the fonds is in accession B2004-0017. These records document much of the research, consultant and teaching activities performed by Professor Etkin over his lengthy career from the mid 1940s to the present with the greatest emphasize being on the 1950s to 1980s time period. Series 1, (Correspondence and Committees) gives a good overview of his professional activities and relationships. It also documents his teaching and mentoring of graduate students who often went on to other University or agencies. Series 8 (Teaching) also documents Etkin’s role as a teacher but is limited to lecture notes on his various courses.

Series 2 through 6 document the breadth of Etkin's research and publishing activities. Often there is a cross over among these series where files for a specific topic can be found in several places. This reflects the tangential nature of his research. A research topic, for example, may have begun as a consultant project but ultimately led to further study resulting in a professional paper being presented at a symposium or published in a journal. Etkin often continued to research into areas of interest even after the grant funded research was complete. So while Series 2 (Lectures, Talks and Seminars) and Series 4 (Research Files) represent the bulk of the research he did on his own, most often there are related topics found in either Series 6 (Grants) or Series 7 (Consulting Files). As a general rule, research conducted for a government agency was usually done as part of a granting structure and is documented in Series 6, while research undertaken for industry was done on a consultancy basis and is documented in Series 7. Series 4 (Book Files) only contains documents related to his books on Flight Dynamics. Records relating to research that Etkin undertook toward the improvement and development of a new particle separator have been placed at the end of the fonds in Series 10 (Infrasizer Ltd.).

While Professor Etkin held several minor and two significant administrative posts at the University of Toronto, only a small amount of records exist in this fonds that document these roles. They can be found in Series 8 (University of Toronto).

This fonds will be of great interest to researchers interested in the early development of the Canadian aerospace industry, especially in the early years of the Cold War. The University of Toronto Institute of Aerospace Studies received much of its outside funding from U.S and Canadian government agencies during this period. Work being done by Etkin and other IAS colleagues documents the link between industry and government in the field of aerospace research. Naturally, this fonds would also be of interest to anyone wishing to study the history of IAS and the early teaching and research of aerodynamic engineering in Canada.

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