In Memoriam: Professor Emeritus Phil Myers
rofessor Emeritus Phillip S. Myers passed away Oct. 18 at the age of 90. Myers, a pioneer in combustion engine research, co-founded the UW Engine Research Center (ERC) with Otto Uyehara in 1946. Back then, Myers and colleagues developed methods and instruments to measure temperatures in combustion cylinders while working in a metal shack in the basement of the Mechanical Engineering Building. The center was established with three objectives: to train graduates who can meet transportation industry needs, to help meet national emissions and fuel consumption goals through cutting-edge research, and to develop faculty to serve as a national resource for combustion engine technology.
Sixty years later, the internationally renowned center’s projects involve diagnostics, modeling and experiments regarding fluid mechanics, heat transfer, combustion, sprays, emissions, lubrication and powertrain systems. Myers remained active in the ERC even after relinquishing his duties as director, facilitating a strategic partnership between General Motors and the ERC in 2002.
He joined the College of Engineering as an instructor in 1942, after earning his BS degrees from McPherson College and Kansas State University. He earned his MS and PhDs degrees in mechanical engineering from UW-Madison in 1944 and 1947, respectively. Although he retired in 1986, Myers maintained a presence on campus and was active as a professor emeritus until his death. He enjoyed teaching and, alongside long-time collaborator Uyehara, advised hundreds of graduate students, many of whom went on to successful careers in industry and academia around the world.
Memorials may be sent to:
UW Foundation, Phil Myers Memorial
US Bank Lockbox, PO Box 78807
Milwaukee, WI 53278-0807
Among Myers’ numerous awards for teaching and research is his election to the National Academy of Engineering in 1973 for his research on ignition and heat transfer in combustion engines. He also received the Internal Combustion Engine Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 1981. He was the first president of the Society of Automotive Engineers from academia rather than industry and was involved in developing and evaluating the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards for gas mileage. Because of his prominence and expertise, automobile manufacturers in the United States, Europe and Japan consulted Myers extensively. He also participated in UW-Madison international outreach, including efforts in China, Indonesia and India.
On the UW-Madison campus, Myers chaired faculty committees overseeing construction of the Engineering Research Building, Union South, and the Kurt F. Wendt Engineering Library. Enthusiastic university supporters, he and his wife, Jean, gave $1 million in 2000 to endow a professorship and two graduate fellowships within the Department of Mechanical Engineering and to support the Myers Automotive Laboratory.
Aside from his academic activities, Myers enjoyed camping, waterskiing, photography, travel and time with his family. He is survived by his wife, five children, eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild.