File B1986-0042 - Etkin, Bernard (oral history)

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Reference code

UTA 5001-B1986-0042


Etkin, Bernard (oral history)


  • Aug-Sept 1982 (Creation)

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4 reel-to-reel tapes and 4 cassettes (122 mins.)

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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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Oral history interview with Professor Bernard Etkin conducted by Paul A. Bator. Covers high school education though his term as Dean of the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering, ca. 1936-1979. Topics discussed include student orientation and initiation into the Faculty, curricula in the Faculty with particular references to the Engineering and Physics courses, his work in Canadian aeronautic industries, the effects of World War II, Ajax Division, the Association of Teaching Staff, Haist rules, Senate and Board of Governors, the Commission on University Government, student activities, the development of unicameralism and administration of the Governing Council.

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Tape summary available in Reading Room.

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Oral history has been digitized. Contact Archives to download mp3 files.

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